Advocates for Home Education in Massachusetts, Inc.

A Homeschooling Fable

Inspired by the article Handling It Ourselves, Suzanne MacDonald was moved to write about her own experience of facing school officials:

I consider myself a somewhat seasoned homeschooler as my kids have never been to school, my oldest being 14. Yet, it took me four years after we moved to a new town to get the courage up to go to my superintendent's office to hand deliver my end- of-the-year evaluations and plans for the following year ( I just give it to them all at once and then I'm done with it for a year), for the purpose of asking for a letter of approval so that I can take advantage of the homeschooling discounts at various bookstores.

The letter they send does not actually say anything about accepting my homeschool plan. I receive the same formatted letter each year stating something like, upon receipt of standardized test scores and quarterly reports, we are prepared to approve your plan... Each year I send my reply educating them about the legal homeschooling requirements based on the Charles decision, and that's the end of it. I never hear back from them, but I still lack proof that I am a homeschooler with an approved plan, which is what our local Barnes & Noble requires to get an educator's discount card.

So last year I went into the superintendent's office, hand delivered my homeschool materials, asked for a letter of approval, and stated my reason for wanting it. I went on to inform them that I receive a letter each year, but that they consistently lack any mention of approval of my education plan. Not only did the secretary never even look at my proposal, she did not hesitate and right then and there rewrote the letter, with a little help from me standing there, that was still in her computer file and handed it to me. Out the door I went saying to myself, Whew, that wasn't nearly as bad as I thought it would be. Another year done! I intend to do the same thing this year.

I left the office, realizing that more often than not, they just don't know the legal requirements. School officials have so much on their plates, that rather than focus an inordinate amount of effort on homeschoolers, they do what they think they are supposed to do or what they've seen other towns do, believing that to be law. That's where things become misinterpreted and bogus!

Moral of the story: Face your fears! It's not as bad or intimidating as you might think. And very likely you will discover that school officials, most often out of ignorance, only do what they think they are supposed to do.