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Debunking the Myths of Home Education in “Class Dismissed”

Class Dismissed

Tickets will not be available at the door. You must purchase them in advance here.

Advocates for Home Education in Massachusetts (AHEM) will sponsor the Boston screening of the world's 1st feature-length documentary exploring the rapidly growing homeschool movement! “Class Dismissed,” a revealing new documentary which explores the challenges and triumphs of home education, will be screened Monday, December 1, 7:30 pm at the Regent Theatre, 7 Medford St., Arlington, MA, with the filmmaker in attendance.

This is your chance to watch it in a big theater with hundreds of other homeschoolers. Be part of it!

“Class Dismissed” follows one family’s quest to better their children’s lives by pulling them out of one of the highest-rated schools in L.A. Parents Rachel and Todd are frustrated by the rigid state-imposed standards of the modern educational system and hope 21st century technology and new research will provide a means for their two daughters to earn a quality education outside the modern school system. They quickly discover that they must overcome long-standing assumptions about education and face the social ramifications of their bold experiment.

Jeremy Stuart makes his directorial debut with “Class Dismissed.” His career spans over 20 years in TV and film. He’s worked on hundreds of music videos, commercials, and award-winning documentaries and shorts for Lucasfilm, National Geographic Channel, Discovery Channel, the Smithsonian Channel, and others. Himself a product of a traditional educational system, Stuart became disenchanted with his high school curriculum as a teenager and trained his energies on music and, ultimately, film editing.

“Everything I’ve learned as an adult I learned because I wanted to, but more importantly because I was passionate about it,” says Stuart. “But I’ve always felt that it should have been this way from the beginning.”

Though he was disappointed in his own educational experience, when he became a father 10 years ago, Stuart assumed he’d enroll his daughter in a traditional school. Like most people, he wasn’t aware there were other choices, but then he and his wife attended a home education conference in Sacramento -- it was a game-changer for Stuart.

“What completely sold me were the kids,” says Stuart. “I had never met kids who were so full of life and curiosity and so comfortable with themselves and those around them. If these kids, teens, and young adults were the result of homeschooling then I was ready to sign up.”

Ten years later, Stuart is even more confident about the advantages of home education. We learn in “Class Dismissed” that home education is not a one-size-fits-all program – rather, there are many different approaches to alternative learning that can work.

Choosing to educate your kids outside of a conventional school is a process of trial and error and constant evolution,” explains Stuart. “It’s a process that requires extraordinary trust and a willingness to undo much of our own conditioning about how children learn, and an understanding of how as parents we support or hinder that process.”

Inaccurate perceptions of social consequences are rampant, and Stuart admits they are deeply entrenched in our culture. In one segment, he interviews people on the street to gather their opinions of home education, which almost always default to the socialization myth. This mindset is what Stuart is particularly interested in confronting with “Class Dismissed”.

“Ironically, school is the only time in life where you’ll be forced to socialize with people more or less the same age,” says Stuart. “This doesn’t happen elsewhere in life, where we interact and socialize with people of all ages. Kids who are educated outside a traditional classroom get to experience this on a daily basis, which is a much richer and accurate experience of what it means to socialize.”

Perhaps the greatest strength of “Class Dismissed” is its ability to take us along for the ride, through the tough questions and concerns Rachel and Todd have about home education and the insecurities they feel about choosing such an unconventional path. The audience experiences their fears and convictions, their failures and their victories. It’s a journey the director feels is worth taking, if for no other reason than to broaden one’s perception of what’s possible in the world of education.

“I want the film to speak to ordinary people who may not be aware that they have options when it comes to educating their children, and to show that those options are within reach for most people,” says Stuart. “I want the audience to feel moved to do something and to walk away with their hearts and minds opened to the prospect of new possibilities for themselves and their families.”

Get your tickets here: http://cdboston.brownpapertickets.com/. Admission $10. Don’t delay – all West Coast screenings sold out! Q&A with the filmmakers follows the screening. AHEM (www.ahem.info) will be on hand with info about homeschooling in Massachusetts. We encourage you to invite friends or family whom you think will benefit from the alternative education insights this film provides.

Student Government Day

AHEM is thrilled to announce that homeschoolers will again be able to participate in Student Government Day on April 10, 2015 at the State House in Boston! The annual Student Government Day will begin with check-in at 8:30 a.m. and will conclude at 1:00 p.m. The program is sponsored by the Massachusetts Department of Elementary and Secondary Education.

Students must be nominated to participate, and a lottery will be held to determine a participant and an alternate. Nominations must be postmarked by December 12, 2014 at the latest. Details below.

In 1947, the Massachusetts Legislature enacted this program which is traditionally held on a Friday in April. This is an informative program about state government that includes students participating in the role of elected or appointed officials to “observe the processes of government.” The program provides educators and students with many opportunities to learn firsthand about state government. It enables government officials to have contact with students. It allows students to voice their positions on important current issues through prepared debates. It enables students to participate in the legislative process through simulated committee hearings and House and Senate formal sessions. It provides the opportunity for students to exchange views with their peers throughout the state on statewide issues.

How does this program work?

Students will be assigned the roles of senators, representatives, constitutional officers and Justices of the Supreme Court. In March, information will be posted on the Massachusetts Department of Education website indicating the roles that each district's student(s) will play on Student Government Day. The website will also provide information about the bills that will be debated, further details about the day itself, and background information about the state government system.

On Student Government Day, students are able to experience the roles of members of the executive, legislative and judicial branches of state government. Many students will participate as legislators in House and Senate sessions. All students may take part in a simulated committee hearing. Others will visit various elected and appointed office holders and staff as they carry out their daily activities.

Who is eligible to participate?

Homeschooled high school students in their junior or senior year. (As a general guide, a senior (grade 12) may be applying to college this year; a junior may have taken the PSAT in October 2014 and was eligible to enter the competition for scholarships from NMSC (grade 11). Students must not have participated in Student Government Day in the past.

How can a homeschooled student be nominated?

Students may nominate themselves. Download a nomination form in .pdf format here. Mail the form and documentation to AHEM, PO Box 1307, Arlington, MA 02474. Nominations must be postmarked by December 12, 2014 at the latest. A lottery will be held to determine a participant and alternate from each of the eight Governor’s Council Districts.

The elected student designee and student alternate should both attend. If for some reason the student designee is unable to attend Student Government Day, the student alternate will serve as the district's homeschool student designee to Student Government Day. Please note that whether or not the student alternate takes the role of an absent student designee to Student Government Day, in most cases he or she will also have the opportunity to participate in the day's activities.

Important details that may influence your decision to participate:
  • Participants will need to provide their own transportation to the State House on April 10, planning to arrive between 8:30 and 9:00 a.m.

  • They will need to wear “appropriate attire” aka for men a sport coat/slacks or a suit, shirt with a collar, tie, and dress shoes. For women a business suit/dress or blouse/shirt and skirt or pants and dress shoes.

  • They will need to bring a government-issued ID (passport, driver’s license, or Massachusetts ID http://www.mass.gov/rmv/license/13bMAID.htm).

  • Nominees must read and sign the Consent Form for Student Government Day Activities, and submit it to AHEM with the nomination form.

  • Parents are welcome to attend Student Government Day. Details will be sent to participants and alternates.

See the answers to frequently asked questions regarding Student Government Day (SGD) here: http://www.doe.mass.edu/famcomm/student/sgd_faq.html

Again, download a nomination form in .pdf format here. Mail the nomination form, consent form, and a copy of your ID to AHEM, PO Box 1307, Arlington, MA 02474. Nominations must be postmarked by December 12, 2014 at the latest.

Questions? Email info@ahem.info.