Utterly Meaningless » Blog Archive » BANGING THE DRUM SLOWLY

    Filed at 8:04 am under by dcobranchi

    I’m still on moderated status on the Yahoo group (CRESTNC in case anyone is interested). Moderated in this case means messages permanently disappear into the aether. AFAIK, it’s all because of some things I wrote about over-compliance. On the off chance that someone who can still post at CRESTNC will see this (and maybe pass along a link), I’m going to put down my thoughts on why the recommendations to over-comply are bad– bad politically and bad morally.

    A bit of the backstory:

    NC has only fair homeschooling laws. Shocked, right? Yeah, I’ve seen y’all claim that they’re some of the best in the country. ‘Tain’t true. I’ve been writing about home education for 4 years and have read the laws for most of the states (and summaries of all of them.) We have mandatory annual testing. We have to maintain attendance and vaccination records. And DNPE can demand to see them whenever it wants. We are far from free.

    I moved down here from Delaware a year ago. I helped write the current home education law there. Do you know what DE home educators have to do? In September they tell the state that they’re going to homeschool (by filling out a single piece of paper). And then in July they tell the state (via another piece of paper) that they did. No attendance. No testing. No vaccinations. And Delaware isn’t even the most free state in the area. New Jersey wins that coveted title. NJ homeschoolers have zero requirements. They don’t even have to tell the state that they’re homeschooling. Ahhh– sweet freedom.

    I can hear the complaints already (as I’ve heard them many times from NC home educators)– We HAVE to have all these regulations to keep them on the straight and narrow. Bull! Regulations only affect the law-abiding. Anyone who is going to use homeschooling as a dodge for some nefarious purpose isn’t going to give a crap about DNPE’s requests.

    So, we’re not particularly free. And yet some of you (including the leader of CRESTNC) want to over-comply. Why?

    When we give the state educrats more than is required, they come to expect it. Here’s what DNPE recommends we do vs. what the law requires.

    While not mandated by law, home schools are ENCOURAGED to:

    I. Offer instruction of at least similar quality, scope and duration as local conventional schools.
    A. Five clock hours of instruction with the student each school day should consist of:
    1. Formal academic instruction in the home;
    2. Directed educational activities appropriate to the age of the student.
    B. Conduct instruction each school year for 180 days.
    C. Remember that minds are usually more receptive to formal academic instruction
    in the morning hours after an adequate amount of sleep.

    The only requirement in the law is that the “school” operate during at least nine calendar months.

    II. Maintain a current daily log, journal or lesson plan book throughout the entire school year.
    A. It should contain:
    1. Time devoted to the formal study of each subject each day;
    2. Page numbers, chapters or units of the textbooks (or very brief descriptions
    of concepts) covered during various time periods each day.
    B. It should be retained at your school until the student has enrolled in a conventional
    school or has graduated.

    Not covered in the law at all.

    III. Be certain that nationally standardized testing:
    A. Is ordered by each February 1. Click here for a list of testing companies;
    B. Is administered each year during the same week of your choice between March 1 and April 15;
    C. Is not administered or scored by relatives, guardians, or anyone living in the same
    household as the student.
    1. An educational institution/organization is preferred.
    2. Machine-scoring is most ideal. (Always allow at least eight weeks to receive test results if the test is machine scored.)
    D. Includes the subject areas of social studies and science, whenever applicable.

    Yes, under the law we have to test annually, but nothing in the law says we can’t administer (or even score) it ourselves. Nor does the law state that we have to do it any particular time. All of that is an invention of the educrats at DNPE.

    So what (or who) does it hurt if you comply with DNPE “recommendations”? It hurts our freedom. All of us. Especially those who would stick to the letter of the law and would work for a better (i.e., more free) homeschooling law. Every time you voluntarily send in a card telling the State that you were a good homeschooler who taught for 180 days of 5 hours each, you make it harder for us to get rid of the bad parts of the law that exist. Would you like to see an end to mandatory annual testing? But look at all the homeschoolers who voluntarily send in their wonderful test scores. See? We don’t need to get rid of the requirement. Instead, we should just tighten it up a bit to make it compulsory that ALL homeschoolers send in their scores. And then the volunteers in the DNPE office can see all our kids’ scores. [Aside to non-NC readers– Yes, home educators really do volunteer to work in the office that regulates us. Go figure.]

    Every single time you over-comply it strengthens DNPE’s hand with the legislature.

    When I was working with the Delaware statewide group (DHEA) we actively discouraged anyone from doing anything that wasn’t required by law. Test if you want to but don’t provide it to the State. Homeschool year round? Great. Only tell the State about 180 days. [BTW– 180 days was the requirement until we worked for a better home education law and got rid of it along with mandatory subjects]. Don’t tell the State about anything you do that is not required information. Why? Because we didn’t want the educrats thinking they could expect us to roll over if they tried to tighten the screws. If 90% of homeschoolers were telling them that they homeschooled for 240 days, why not make that the legal standard? After all, it’s only a few malcontents who aren’t holding up their end.

    Our support groups (NCHE, CRESTNC, etc.) ought to be discouraging people from over-complying. It’s just dumb politics, and it erodes our freedom. And freedom is what allows homeschooling to work.

    UPDATE: Here.

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    16 Responses to “BANGING THE DRUM SLOWLY”

    Comment by
    June 25th, 2006
    at 9:23 am

    If I had to do all that paperwork, I wouldn’t have time to homeschool!

    Comment by
    June 25th, 2006
    at 11:53 am

    Another problem with NC law is the state can close your hs if they do not hear from you. If they enter your address incorrectly into their database, you are out of compliance. They have all the power to close your school if they wish. They do not have a grievance process. The law is poorly written and it provides the state with all the power.

    Comment by
    CS in NV
    June 25th, 2006
    at 1:05 pm

    holy cow. Here in NV, we send in one piece of paper, at the beginning of the year. That’s it. NOt as good as Idaho or Alaska of course.

    Questoing – who decides you homeschooled for 5 hours a day? Who pays for the testing? What kind of tests do you have to use? What if you have a developmentally delayed child?

    Comment by
    June 25th, 2006
    at 1:37 pm

    Here the law is very brief and open to quite a bit of interpretation. The local district offices have tried to clamp as many regulations as possible, but it’s been the networking of actual homeschoolers sharing information that has lessed the fear (and I beleive peopel following these recommendations have been coerced or scared into it) of retaliation.

    In the end, the vast numbers of hoemschoolers HERE (and believe me, it’s not a lot in total) who declined to toe the imaginary line totally got the forms changed and unofficial policies withdrawn. The departments are too swamped and stressed to fight back. Maybe there they would be too if they didn’t have all them volunteers…

    Comment by
    June 25th, 2006
    at 2:57 pm

    I moved from a state where – at that time – homeschooling was considered truancy. I spent an awful lot of time fighting with the district, the prosecutor and social services as well as dealing with our lawyer and changing the state law. I didn’t realize how much time I was NOT spending helping my kids learn until I moved to NJ. (Where I did notify the district because the state guidelines say that the district cannot do anything if they are aware it’s a homeschooling situation; I made them aware). Suddenly, I had – not just time – but I wasn’t running in circles trying to juggle all that bureacracy. What I found was that without all the craziness, I was able to be a much better parent and the kids did a whole lot better without all the chaos. I am a firm believer in allowing parents to homeschool without any bureacracy. I believe they do a better job when left to their own parenting and creativity.

    Darly, keep working to get rid of those regulations. I was absolutely shocked when I discovered any pervert could look up the name, address and phone number of any homeschool in NC where Mom and the kids would be home alone during the day on the Internet.

    You are 100% absolutely right to stand your ground on not overcomplying. It’s the dumbest thing homeschoolers can do. Although it does make for more business for those who want to squeeze every last penny out of frightened homeschool families. And that’s about as selfish and self-serving as it gets.


    Comment by
    CS in NV
    June 25th, 2006
    at 5:30 pm

    That’s right.

    I just taught an “Intro to Homeschooling” class, and we listed advantages and disadvantages. The one that people have a difficulty getting over is not having an outside “expert” telling them that their child is learning. I told the parents in the class that there are plenty of organizations willing to look over the work your child sends in, for a nice price. And to think about whether you wanted to pay for that fear, that somehow what your child has learned is inadequate.

    Comment by
    Daryl Cobranchi
    June 25th, 2006
    at 6:53 pm


    We pay for our own testing. Cost us $100 this year.

    Comment by
    June 26th, 2006
    at 12:21 am

    Excellent, Daryl…thanks. I joined the group and will be looking for posts. I see that all the posts go through the moderator. Fun. Sounds like Spiceline. The moderator at Spiceline posts or doesn’t post your comments at her whim, and will also edit them as she sees fit.

    I read the thread on 180 days. That lady is completely clueless! As I said before, you’d think someone would be glad to find out they were free from yet another rule but NO! Sheesh, do they really LIKE to do things the hard way???

    One thing about inspection of tests is it can only be done once a year. DNPE can’t inspect anytime they want. And they have NO authority to inspect attendance records or immunization records/religious exemption AT ALL!!! What is the worst about all this is I think DNPE is pretty clear on these facts. It’s the homeschoolers who are pushing it!!! I have NEVER had any trouble with DNPE trying to push this on me in the nearly 14 years we’ve been homeschooling.

    Parent must administer an annual standardized test (§ 115C-564) any time during the school year which must be made available on request “for inspection” by the state “at reasonable times. For one year after the testing, all records shall be made available … at the principal office of such school, at all reasonable times, for annual inspection by a duly authorized representative of the State of North Carolina.” (§ 115C-549 or § 115C-557).

    I’ll try to post some on that loop as well but I have a feeling I will be squelched before I even get started. 🙁

    Comment by
    June 26th, 2006
    at 1:09 am

    Oh, BTW…I have yet to get a response to the email I sent to the pres. of NCHE. It was very genuinely courteous, sincere, and respectful. I hope he has read this entry.

    Comment by
    Daryl Cobranchi
    June 26th, 2006
    at 1:11 am

    You’re right, Bonnie. I was less than clear in my phrasing in that the inspection refers only to the testing records. But they can demand to see the records anytime during the next 12 months (subject to the “reasonable times” restriction.)

    Comment by
    Daryl Cobranchi
    June 26th, 2006
    at 1:21 am


    Hal’s no longer president. I can’t recall who the new one is.

    Comment by
    June 26th, 2006
    at 7:18 am

    Ahh, ok. The last I knew he was. I don’t remember how often they have elections and all. I sent my email to the NCHE addy. Hopefully it will be forwarded to him.

    Yep, they are authorized to inspect the tests. I don’t know how that ever became misinterpretted to be “home visits”. DNPE is not authorized to enter your home (I know you know this, but for anyone else reading who won’t read it on the loops…)and they are not authorized to make any judgment or ruling on whether or not your homeschool is “good” enough. That’s another thing I hear a lot–parents thinking DNPE has the power to deem their program not “up to par” and disappprove it. I tell ya, there seems to be no end to the notion that DNPE has ultimate ‘say so’ in our schools and homes.

    Comment by
    June 26th, 2006
    at 8:25 am

    OK, I just read all the thread at CRESTNC. Whadyou say that would prompt you being put on moderated status? The truth? Yikes, it’s like I said (and have said and I know I am sounding like a broken record here) there are some who can’t function unless things are done the hard way. They say they want to maintain freedoms? How the heck does feeling compelled to do something that isn’t law so it doesn’t become law make any sense whatsoever? Exercising freedoms is the only way to preserve them. Why does NCHE promote that notion at all other times but not in dealing with the homeschool law. I mean, they will be the first to tell you not to allow a social worker into your home, citing the Stumbo case where a parent stuck to their guns and got a favorable ruling at the state supreme court level. Yet they encourage you to over comply with homeschool law. Excuse me, but isn’t protecting homeschooling freedoms what the org. is supposed to be about??? And even though I personally don’t rely on organizations instead of staying actively involved myself, there are thousands who do and it affects ALL of us.

    OK…I know you guys are tired of the broken record. I’m taking a breather now 🙂

    Comment by
    June 27th, 2006
    at 7:40 pm

    Daryl is this CRESTNC a support group? Is this the only support group in your area? If it is, how about starting your own?

    In CT we don’t have to tell anyone we are HSing. It is a ‘suggested procedure’ in the C-14 guidelines (along with some other things), which I choose not to do.

    One HS support org in CT suggests or maybe even requires that their members follow the suggested guidelines, they also recommend highly HSLDA membership. I am a member of the OTHER group who maintains that we need only do what the LAW is not what the ‘suggested procedure’ is.

    I feel very free. I don’t have to take attendance or do testing or tell them our vaccine history or any of the other stuff.

    Sorry that you are on moderated status. Sounds like that group does not like free thinkers. From Star Trek: WE ARE BORG YOU MUST ASSIMILATE!

    I had one issue with two HS chat lists where if you don’t do what they say for using book X and curriculum Z then you are bad and wrong and not welcome there, so I quit. I was the free thinker who (gasp) wanted to pick the books that were right for my child and not force them to read X book from 1918 which was B-O-R-I-N-G. However some took offense to not ‘following the wonderful recommendations’. Sigh.

    Free thinkers are not welcome everywhere.

    I know what you are going through. It is very frustrating!

    BTW check our nheld.com for more about educational freedom and HSing.

    Comment by
    June 27th, 2006
    at 8:55 pm

    You go, Daryl! Keep on fighting the good fight!

    Comment by
    Duncan Frissell
    June 28th, 2006
    at 4:01 pm

    Are there people crazy enough to register their home schools with the government?

    You’re only letting youself in for trouble if you do.

    What are the chances of getting “caught” if you don’t? And what are the horrific punishments if you are?

    Moving across District lines will solve most problems if any occur.

    Over compliance is a common problem. People always seem to be under the impression that they have to do many more things than they actually must. Remember — regulations are malum prohibitum not malum in se. You can’t go to Hell for ignoring them.

    If you’re worried about obedience, stick to actual sins like adultery, fornication, or voting Democrat.

    Some years ago, my daughter was asked by a woman in a shop why she wasn’t in school. She gave the answer I had previously suggested, half in jest. “My daddy doesn’t believe in your schools. He says they’re controlled by the communists.” Further deponent sayeth not.