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  • AN UNSCIENTIFIC POLL

    Filed at 7:03 am under by dcobranchi

    This one will be a little different. In light of recent events, I’ve come to the conclusion that home education needs another voice on Capitol Hill. The self-appointed one certainly doesn’t speak for me. So, I’m curious if folks would be willing to support (financially) an organization whose sole purpose would be to work to protect homeschool freedoms. There’d be no lobbying for or against any bills that were not directly tied to home education. No gay marriage. No UN declarations. No partisan politics.

    Please, in the comments section, anonymously post an amount that you’d be willing to pledge each year. If that amount is zero, please post that. What I’m looking for is to see if there’s any interest at all, or if I’m completely out in left field.

    26 Responses to “AN UNSCIENTIFIC POLL”


    Comment by
    anon.
    December 19th, 2005
    at 7:21 am

    $0.


    Comment by
    COD
    December 19th, 2005
    at 8:18 am

    I don’t think another formal organization is the answer. Direct competition with a more powerful adversary usually fails.


    Comment by
    XXXXX
    December 19th, 2005
    at 8:32 am

    $100, easy. I would contribute more if I actually had kids, and more still if I were actually homeschooling!


    Comment by
    Valerie
    December 19th, 2005
    at 9:33 am

    I’d like to support this ($100 easy), but what would ‘we’ be lobbying ‘for?’ Would this be a continuing battle of “No! We don’t want to be included!”? What would our ‘positive agenda’ be?


    Comment by
    Henry Cate
    December 19th, 2005
    at 10:53 am

    Depending on who ran it, and the charter of the organization, I’d be willing to fund around $100 a year.

    One factor in your analysis is that if you can’t drum up enough funding now, homeschooling is growing so fast, that in five to seven years we’ll probably have twice as many homeschoolers, and thus around twice as much as what it appears you might get today.


    Comment by
    Anon
    December 19th, 2005
    at 10:54 am

    I would be willing to contribute $100.00 or more per year depending on the agenda that my contribution would represent.
    There are many homeschool families that I know of who adamently oppose HSLDA. The lack of organization could be overcome in a very short time I would think, given proper motivation.


    Comment by
    Henry Cate
    December 19th, 2005
    at 12:00 pm

    There is another organization which seems to at least partially fit the bill, the “Natianal Home Education Legal Defense” which has their site at:

    nheld.com/

    I’ve just done a Google on news about them and nothing came up. I don’t know how active they are right now. They do seem to be more focused on protecting legal issues rather than being involved politically.

    Has anyone been working with them?


    Comment by
    Daryl Cobranchi
    December 19th, 2005
    at 12:32 pm

    NHELD is Deborah Stevenson and Judy Aron. They’re pretty absolutist that Congress has no right writing any federal legislation concerning education. I don’t think they’d be particularly effective lobbyists (nor do I think they’d be interested.) Judy, are you still hanging out here?

    NHELD was the author of the petition I blogged here.


    Comment by
    Helen
    December 19th, 2005
    at 12:48 pm

    I missed this in my rounds earlier this morning, but as I’ve already posted on HEM-Networking, I’m in for $200/year. Maybe even more, depending on how things develop.


    Comment by
    Natalie
    December 19th, 2005
    at 2:01 pm

    My family would contribute at least $200 and I’d volunteer if you/whomever needed me.

    Last week, at a business cocktail party, I met the dean of a law school here. We chit-chatted, then discussed law, then my concerns about homeschool legislation. He said, “Have you considered law school? You should come visit the campus. You’ve got that…thing”, which I’m sure he says to all the gulls–but for a nano-second, I thought, “wouldn’t that be a kick in the ass, to go to law school and fight for homeschooling?”

    Of course, due to other commitments, this is impossible. And I’m sure the resulting fixation would be unhealthy. However, contributing to a grassroots org that would represent homeschoolers like me is a hell of a lot cheaper than law school…or therapy.

    Count me in.


    Comment by
    J Aron
    December 19th, 2005
    at 2:20 pm

    You don’t think we’d be effective lobbyists? If we had an 8 million dollar budget like HSLDA and offices in DC, and a similar sized staff, then we would be. We have been lobbying Congress regarding this bill and others, Quite frankly people do have an alternative to HSLDA with NHELD, and HSLDA has had a 20 year headstart over us. You want us to do more, then you have to support us. We cannot do it alone. But unlike HSLDA we don’t purport to do it all for you – we want you to be involved and informed. We need people to be part of our network (and if not our network then any network).

    I think we tried our best with 522 – but as long as we remain fractured state groups and are not cohesive in our efforts nationally then we will never be able to counter what HSLDA can do in the way of their lobbying especially with their 8 million dollar budget and offices in DC. I am amazed that we have over 1100 signatures on that petition, but it could have been over 110,000. Where is everyone?

    We have got to continue emails – letters and phone contact with DC to all senators and congress people to let them know this federalization of homeschooling must stop. Every single statewide homeschool organization has got to get into lobbying their state and federal legislatures. The timidness to voice their opinions must end – we have already lost too much and are on the road to losing so much more.

    You tell me what more we can do – how we can reach people – how we can educate everyone to what is happening under our noses. How do we get state groups across this country to make a commitment to fight this? How do we get them to see the importance of this? My own statewide group hides behind their non-profit designation saying they can’t be political.. and if all of these groups don’t do a better job of rallying lobbying support against federal legislation and the other nonsense going on then we might as well hang it up.

    Daryl – I know you have had your disagreements with Deborah Stevenson and NHELD – at first you thought we were just in it for money (laughing) or wanted to be another HSLDA (we don’t, or had some other nefarious motive (we don’t). Your rallying cry comes a day late and dollar short. You couldn’t even muster doing your own version of a petition to lobby congress since you objected to ours. Did you speak to your statewide groups to get them involved in this? There is power in numbers, despite COD’s staement that we don’t need another formal organization. Perhaps we don’t – but
    we all have to work together in some way.

    NHELD doesn’t have any other objective other than stopping the federalization of homeschooling, educating people about how to understand their laws and how to change them if they need to, and trying to build a network of legal people and resources that can help every state be more free. That is what we are and we need your support to do that.


    Comment by
    Ron
    December 19th, 2005
    at 4:08 pm

    We’ll email you sometime in the next couple days. Andrea & I need to discuss the whole thing a bit more. While it would have its challenges, we think it would be worth trying.

    Since we’re not American, we would be better off to attempt something similar here. That is something we’ve discussed before. The last few months suggest that something like that may be necessary.


    Comment by
    Ulrike
    December 19th, 2005
    at 6:12 pm

    Call me gunshy, but in light of what HSLDA has tried to do in the name of HS “protection” I think I’d only be willing to donate “in times of need.” That is, I wouldn’t want to pay an annual membership fee, but when issues like HONDA come up, I’d certainly be willing to donate to the cause of keeping it from going very far, in addition to writing my own letters and making my own phone calls.


    Comment by
    COD
    December 19th, 2005
    at 6:31 pm

    Here is the expansion of my comment above.

    I was active in a state Libertarian party for several years. Organizing and motivating people who fundamentally want nothing from government is very hard. It’s almost impossible. Particularly at the Federal level, everybody in Congress (except Ron Paul) is there to do something – mostly enrich themselves while directing as much federal loot as possible into their home states or districts. How do we help them do that? Because at the end of the day, that is all most of them care about. Sec 522 does not exist because Senator Warner has thought long and hard about the military and homeschool recruiting. It is there because HSLDA has delivered something – maybe campaign workers in the past, or they brokered a deal on some other legislation that Warner had an interest in. Somebody’s back got scratched.

    Trying to out-lobby HSLDA at the Federal level is a game we can’t win IMHO. You can’t take on an adversary with superior strength and more firepower head on. This calls for guerrilla
    warfare. Unfortunately, I don’t have the answer. I have some very poorly thought out ideas that might be worth further discussion, but I think that discussion is best done somewhere other than a public forum, for now anyway.

    Maybe we should set up an small email list to discuss further? No use handing our plans to the enemy 😉


    Comment by
    Daryl Cobranchi
    December 19th, 2005
    at 6:47 pm

    Judy,

    Yes, I think y’all would not be particularly effective. NHELD seems to have an utter disdain for Congress, particularly their role (constitutional or not) in education issues. Accusing the folks you’re trying to lobby of basically usurping states’ rights for the last 50 years would not tend to make someone particularly welcome on the Hill.

    I didn’t try to write a petition as I think online petitions are valued just slightly higher than astroturf bulk emails by the folks who actually get to vote on bills. The statewide group I’m most involved in (HA-NC) was well aware of the situation. The largest statewide in NC is the HSLDA affiliate, not exactly an ally.

    Why would NHELD need anyone’s help to build out a network of lawyers? As far as stopping the federalization of home education goes, we’re on the same side. We just disagree on the best way to prevent that.


    Comment by
    J Aron
    December 20th, 2005
    at 12:47 am

    Oh please Daryl.. we don’t have disdain for Congress.. we just expect them to do their job the way it was intended. I guess we shouldn’t remind the folks on the Hill of things they shouldn’t be doing.. it just makes them uncomfortable.. and so you wonder why there are wiretaps and other infringements of our rights.. I guess that’s the price you pay for allowing certain people in government to do whatever the hell they want. I guess we’ll have to be nicer to those who are screwing us over. Will you remember that when they legislate that ID be part of school curriculum?
    A network of lawyers (or anyone else) just seems like a decent resource to help homeschoolers who have legal issues in their own state. Unlike HSLDA, who have lawyers giving their members advice despite the fact that they aren’t licensed to practice in the state of the member having issues, NHELD feels that it is appropriate to help homeschoolers find resources in their own state who can help them understand their own laws, especially since we don’t interpret your laws for you like HSLDA does (and they do that very poorly). And this seems like a bad idea to you? If you ran into a problem in your state do you know who you can turn to for help? I hope your answer is yes.. and if not then it might be nice to look to an organization who might have resources to point you towards.
    Yes we are on the same side.. and so what exactly is your prescription for stopping the federalization of homeschooling? I really would like to know.
    I think Chris is dead on with his assessment, “Trying to out-lobby HSLDA at the Federal level is a game we can’t win IMHO. You can’t take on an adversary with superior strength and more firepower head on. This calls for guerrilla
    warfare. Unfortunately, I don’t have the answer.” So far apparently we don’t either – but we are using the tools we currently have at hand until someone else has a better suggestion. any ideas?


    Comment by
    Daryl Cobranchi
    December 20th, 2005
    at 4:42 am

    So, Judy, I should put you down for $0?

    My final comment on NHELD as lobbyists– Flies and honey.

    The lawyer network (and NHELD’s creation thereof) is irrelevant to the discussion here. We’re not talking about individual home educators getting in trouble with the law.

    As for better ideas, Helen and others over at HEM-Networking are trying to flesh them out. I happen to believe that part of the solution is a presence on Capitol Hill.


    Comment by
    don
    December 20th, 2005
    at 9:14 am

    While this idea appeals to me, I think it would be nearly impossible to pull off. Chris makes an excellent point about trying to organize a group of people that basically want to be left alone, and the futility of trying to meet HSLDA head on. This comment thread also demonstrates that among the non-HSLDA crowd, there are a wide variety of attitudes and opinions. I don’t think that getting a large group of homeschoolers to come together as a cohesive group, all supporting the same agenda, is terribly realistic when the only common thread is a disdain for HSLDA.

    I have been tempted to join HSLDA in the past, only because near-misses with school district folks got me thinking about the need for legal representation. I think that many of HSLDA’s members join simply for that reason (to provide some “insurance” that they will have someone to represent them if the need arises) without necessarily being supportive of HSLDA’s lobbying efforts. An unfortunate side effect of this is that HSLDA uses their money and sheer number of members to push their own agenda. I think that if you could provide similar assurances of legal defense (and at a lower cost), it may be possible to win over some of HSLDA’s current members.


    Comment by
    COD
    December 20th, 2005
    at 9:32 am

    //to provide some “insurance” that they will have someone to represent them if the need arises//

    Of course, HSLDA makes no such assurance.


    Comment by
    Daryl Cobranchi
    December 20th, 2005
    at 9:50 am

    I think that if you could provide similar assurances of legal defense (and at a lower cost), it may be possible to win over some of HSLDA’s current members.

    This is exactly what I’m NOT proposing. I don’t think we need another HSLDA. Hell, I don’t think we need the one we already have. What I think there may be is a need for a group of FODers (to use Tim’s term) to unite to fight against bad federal legislation (by defintion, pretty much all of it). I do not foresee a need to propose legislation. Nor do I see a group providing legal insurance.

    We got lucky that we found out about 522 before it was signed into law. Mary (Nix?) found it through a keyword search of pending federal actions. But, whose to stop HSLDA from using different words in their legislation. So, instead of homeschooling, it becomes home-schooling. Or home education. Or autonomous education. Or. Or. Or. There’s no way we could guarantee that we’d find any future crap Scott and his cohorts will push. So, we’d always be living on the edge, hoping that our latest searches had found it all and never knowing for sure.

    Communication. Grass-roots activism. Networking. All of these are important. We need, though, an overarching goal. What do we want? For me, it’s for the federal government to leave me the hell alone. I don’t want special privileges for our kids. Ideally, I’d rather the feds not know they exist.

    Hmmm. Maybe this is the starting point. What do we want?


    Comment by
    J Aron
    December 20th, 2005
    at 10:05 am

    You want the federal government to leave you alone ?? So what are you doing about making that happen Daryl? Have you spoken/written/faxed anyone on a regular basis to let them know you want to be left alone? Congress doesn’t read your blog – Scotty sure does – and I will bet he’ll use anything you come up with, against you… because the fact of the matter is that he (and HSLDA) doesn’t want the government to leave you alone.. you ought to check out the list of legislation that they have coming down the pike.. you think HONDA is atrocious ? just wait..

    yes – HEM networking has been trying to come up with solutions.. they have a fantastic think tank going on over there.. and a great group of hard working citizen lobbyists looking to see among other things whether honey and flies will work.

    Ummm.. and I assume you’ll be moving to DC (?)


    Comment by
    COD
    December 20th, 2005
    at 11:09 am

    What do we have to trade Judy? If we want Congressman X to leave us out of his education reform bill, we have to have something to offer. Fear of our voters? Not likely – HS’ers against HSLDA is way too diverse of a group to ever be an effective voting block. HSLDA got their political power by selling out to the Republican party. Either that, or they were in the that pocket all along. Either theory is viable.

    I’m not willing to sell out principal just to be effective, and I’m pretty sure you aren’t either.

    Anyway, I suspect the 2008 elections will do a lot to mitigate HSLDA’s power. Then we’ll have to deal with the NEA trying to force all our kids back into school.


    Comment by
    J Aron
    December 20th, 2005
    at 2:01 pm

    ok call me naive – but when have you allowed bribary into the picture? Even though it is done.. I won’t condone it or play along with it. Congressman X should keep us out of his reform bill because it doesn’t belong there in the first place, and he ought to be reminded of that periodically… and excuse me but yes he should fear the voters.. if he doesn’t do the job he’s supposed to, then he could very well get voted out. It has happened you know. People even get impeached and or removed from office, we can even do that to judges. Sorry if I am still one of those old fashioned people that believe that people still have some power (especially when they get off their duffs and pay more attention to legislation then what J-Lo is wearing). Diversity be damned..those Folks against the HSLDA agenda could be an effective voting block if they would unite and do something about what HSLDA is slowly and methodically doing. HSLDA got their power from the 80,000 people paying $100 a pop to “protect them” .. HSLDA never sold out to Republicans.. they were Right Wing Christian Fundamentalists all along.. no surprise there.
    Anyway.. I am still gonna make my voice known to my legislators… I am not just chillin’ till 2008.


    Comment by
    Ron
    December 20th, 2005
    at 9:56 pm

    “I have some very poorly thought out ideas that might be worth further discussion, but I think that discussion is best done somewhere other than a public forum, for now anyway.”

    I can set up a private forum if needed. Just email.

    The thought I’m going to through into this is that HSLDA actually only has the financial support of a small percentage of HSers. Therefore, something like this doesn’t need to have every HS family in for it to work.

    Secondly, dissimination of information would be the best ongoing way to counter the HSLDA.


    Comment by
    speedwell
    December 21st, 2005
    at 7:51 am

    100 dollars PER CHILD (my own or my guy’s litle sisters’). Plus I’d be happy to work for the organization itself in the capacity of administrative office manager, database support, engineer, light bulb polisher, funny hat and button designer, or anything else I might happen to be qualified to do at the time that they need me to do it.


    Comment by
    don
    December 21st, 2005
    at 9:04 am

    You don’t want to provide legal assistance, and you don’t want to lobby for legislation, so what is the purpose of the organization? If it is simply a grass-roots network whose sole purpose is to fight bad federal legislation, I would support that. But I don’t think that financial support (ie. membership/dues) would be your primary need. More than anything, I think you’d need volunteers to organize and educate at the local level..