Homeschooling in New York – regulations….and requests

New York is one of the states that some people think is difficult for homeschooling. Not necessarily, unless you have someone in your district who has decided to target homeschoolers for harassment – which does occasionally happen.

HOMESCHOOL REGULATIONS

The regs are not as bad as you might think. Homeschooling in New York doesn’t have to be difficult as long as you read and understand them, politely stick to them, and not back down or allow yourself to be confused or intimidated.

I have seen the official form of the regs, and they are OK, but here is a link to download a copy of the regulations that is VERY easy to read because it has been formatted to be so, with helpful bolding, underlining, font colors, highlighting and tables defining instructional hours more clearly than the way the regulations make it sound.

https://dl.dropboxusercontent.com/u/77917021/Educational/NYS%20Regs_Reformatted.pdf

INAPPROPRIATE REQUESTS FROM DISTRICTS

Occasionally, school districts overstep their authority, sometimes innocently (as a result of misapplying to us regulations written for PUBLIC SCHOOL students), sometimes…not so much.

In recent years, districts across the state have been trying to create student databases which, if you are in public school is unavoidable, but they have no authority to do that with homeschoolers. Some districts have even been insisting we register for ‘homeschool programs;’ requesting, nay, sometimes demanding, birth certificates (!); and even asking for proof of residence. Seriously?

  1. First, only ‘Section 100.10 of Regulations of the Commissioner of Education’ pertains to us, and nothing more.
  2. Districts have NO AUTHORITY to establish any policies or procedures which add to or contradict them. So…
  3. NOTHING in the regulations requires us to “register” for any “homeschool program.”In fact, according the NYSED.gov Q&As on home instruction (http://www.p12.nysed.gov/nonpub/homeinstruction/homeschoolingqanda.html), the A to the very first Q clearly states “Parents are not required to register their child…if they plan to provide home instruction.”
  4. Trust me, we wouldn’t be sending a Letter of Intent if our children weren’t of compulsory age, and we have no reason to lie about their date of birth which, by the way, is only obliged to be put on the IHIP (Individualized Home Instruction Program), but birth certificates are not mandated.
  5. As for demonstrating residence, if the home address on the Letter of Intent and IHIP is not enough, they have bigger problems, because 6-year-olds generally don’t get much mail outside of, maybe, birthday cards. Come on! We have no reason to report to a district in which we don’t reside – we gain nothing by doing so, only paperwork.
  6. On the other hand, “The district is obligated to reply within 10 business days of receiving the notice of intent by sending to the parents a copy of C.R. 100.10 and a form on which to submit an IHIP.” Believe it or not, there is at least one district that is refusing to do this as of this writing.

Aside from the above points, there is nothing in the Regulations that requires us to provide anything beyond what is specified within them, so DON’T. (As with kids, give them an inch, and they’ll take a mile.)

So take a breath, get a spine, and write nice polite letters to the poor burdened souls working at the district office. Letters help make sure that no one forgets what has been said, minimizes misunderstandings and helps you keep track of your interactions and any requests and when they occurred. If they ask for something you do not see in the regulations, ask them to please tell you what part of the regulations they are referring to, and often this clears things up.

 

Happy homeschooling!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

You know you are among homeschoolers when…

…you see an interesting sweater and tell the mom

“I really like your sweater; it reminds me of a cross between Roman aqueducts, and the colors and texture of Moorish architecture,”

and the other mom answers (quite seriously)

“I never thought about it that way,”

and yet another mom looks thoughtful and says,

“You know, I hadn’t noticed that before.”

Bullying: Some reflections

No Man Is an Island

No man is an island,
Entire of itself.
Each is a piece of the continent,
A part of the main.
If a clod be washed away by the sea,
Europe is the less.
As well as if a promontory were.
As well as if a manor of thine own
Or of thine friend’s were.
Each man’s death diminishes me,
For I am involved in mankind.
Therefore, send not to know
For whom the bell tolls,
It tolls for thee.

John Donne

 Making the bus monitor cry – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=l93wAqnPQwk

Yeah, that happened around here. I live in beautiful Rochester, NY and Greece is a northeastern suburb. Many tend to believe that suburban life is better than living in a city – any city. Well, no place is perfect – obviously. People in Greece have always prided themselves on their community, safety and schools. Sadly, in recent years they have learned the truth of Proverbs 16:18, “Pride goes before destruction and a haughty spirit before a fall” for they have experienced shocking and embarrassing things – scandals with school superintendents, police officers, the Chief of Police and even the Chief’s son, and now this, and they are feeling awfully bad about it. For those who have been following the story, one man’s act of kindness has allowed people to use acts of generosity to show how they feel about this outrage, and Karen Klein has become a lightning rod for expanding the discussion of bullying to the (current) tune of $665,122. http://www.indiegogo.com/loveforkarenhklein?c=activity BTW, she is not going back to work.

Ironically, for years I’ve heard parents with kids in public school say we should have our kids there, too, to “learn how to face the toughness of life,” to “learn how to handle bullies.” Seriously? Would they choose to work in a similarly hostile environment or say “Forget this, I’m getting a different job!” Adults have that option, but yet we would put children into a “Lord of the Flies” world where not only are they powerless but their own families make light of what they tell them/tell them to “deal with it,” and then wonder why they aren’t doing well in school, don’t want to go, get “ADHD,” get depressed, do drugs, get scarred for life, drop out or kill themselves. Where’s that “trusted adult” when you need them? Think back to your own school experiences, folks. Life is tough, but should we throw children into the fire? Thank you, no. We don’t support hazing, either.

We homeschool for many reasons, and this is one. Our kids knew and played happily with all the neighbor kids since they could walk, but about 6th grade their public school playmates became vicious: starting fights with each other; mocking ours for being virgins or not fighting; trying to grope our daughter; using bigoted, racial slurs against my kids so often that I had to speak words we despise in order to tell them what they meant;* gossiping and making up lies about them… (What were they being taught in the schools?) What? Did you think homeschoolers lived in a bubble? Surprise! I had previously warned them that over time their friends would change and grow away from them and not be the same, but this was not what we expected, and I had to comfort and sadly remind them. Now, those young people are going to jail or dying in street violence and people ask “Why?” Do they imagine that marches and candlelight vigils will change the roots?

So, I stand (sadly) vindicated – about bullying in schools and how public schools often change us in ways we don’t want. Learn from this. Please. Sooner than later. You only get one chance to raise your kids.

In case you want to know what I think, I believe the children should go, with their parents, and stand before Karen and apologize in person and then be required to perform acts of kindness (feelings follow actions, not the other way around), like mowing her lawn, shoveling her snow, washing her windows, giving her flowers (maybe even having a later conversation with Ray Comfort). This is much kinder than the sentiment in my neighborhood – “They should be given the belt!”

*BTW, we are “white.”


Hurt Feelings

Some may imagine that hurt feelings in a homeschool setting (like your own) will be less likely to occur because you are not in an institutional setting are among family. That expectation alone can make us susceptible to even more emotional upset because that is not the case.

We are broken humans in a broken world and ALL (including YOU, homeschool mom!) of us are going to say/do or not say/not do things that will upset someone. In families we can hurt each each other more because we are so close. Our teens also will still be cranky, scattered, forgetful, lazy, uncooperative and sometimes mean, albeit at a different (reduced) level than if they were in public school all day. We will also still be human and not respond in emotionally-controlled, rational, calm ways. When that happens, remember that we (sigh!) learn best from our mistakes. Billy Joel expresses that well in his song “Second Wind,” a favorite of mine (http://www.vevo.com/watch/billy-joel/youre-only-human-second-wind/USSM20100758) although the beginning of the video is a bit melodramatic.

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