February 19, 2013

Legalities and Legislation

The Oklahoma State Capitol building last Christmas

Life threw us another huge curveball this last month, and we are moving out-of-state.... again.  This will be the sixth state our family has lived in.  When I think about how disrupting it would have been for my children over the years to keep being suddenly uprooted during the middle of the school year I am so grateful for homeschooling.  It has provided continuity and stability for my children.

The first thing I do when my husband says "I've applied for a job in [insert random state name here]" is go to the website of the Homeschool Legal Defense Association and look at their colorful map that tells me at a glance what the homeschool laws are in that state.  Once I know we're actually moving there I go further on the website and find out all the legal specifics for the state.  This time we will be moving from a green state to a yellow state, which means I will go from having to do absolutely nothing legally to having to simply report to the government that I am homeschooling.

HSLDA is an amazing organization with a lot to offer besides just their helpful map.  We joined last year at our state homeschool convention.  (Here is a tip: joining at a convention gives a good discount and if you're planning on joining do it when you first get into the vendor hall because they will give you a coupon book after you join which has, among other things, a coupon for your purchase at the Rainbow Resource Center booth-- yay!) 

The most well-known reason to join HSLDA is so that you have a lawyer to call if anyone from Child Protective Services or the police ever shows up at your door.  Their lawyers work tirelessly to support our legal right to homeschool.  Their membership magazine is full of information about cases where their lawyers have fought for the rights of homeschooling families in every US state and many other countries as well.  It is really eye-opening.

Recently we attended Homeschool "Capitol Day" at the Oklahoma State Capitol.  It was an amazing event, put on by OCHEC, our state homeschooling organization.  One of the things they did was have a "town meeting" in the capitol rotunda where they had a lawyer from HSLDA speak and answer questions about proposed legislation in Oklahoma that would impact homeschoolers.  Their lawyers go through all the fine print and then let us know what we need to be aware of.  How awesome is that?

Over 1,000 homeschoolers attended this year's Capitol Day.  Our organization delivered a kid-decorated box of homemade cookies to every single legislator's office.  (Apparently, we are well-known and very popular for being the "cookie people!")  As well as touring the Capitol and having that educational experience for our children, we were encouraged to meet with our legislators and become the face of home educating for them, thereby making it easier for us to have their support.

It was such a good experience for my kids to see the Capitol building.  I've been meaning to take them up there for a tour for a long time... we just hadn't go around to it until this event pushed us out the door.  The building seems kind of imposing, but as an OCHEC email pointed out, it is paid for by our tax dollars and these legislators are elected by us to serve us.  We sometimes forget that we need to let them know what we want.

You don't need an official "Capitol Day" for you and your children to learn about and be involved in your local government.  I don't know if this new state I'm moving to has anything like this, but I don't need an organized event to make an appointment to have my family meet with our legislators in their offices.  And I'm definitely bringing them cookies!

Sarah (Birrd) and her husband (Badger) are apparently raising a band of gypsies.  They have six young children whom they have homeschooled in Idaho, Oregon, Kansas, Utah, and Oklahoma... so far.  They are hopeless bibliophiles and are planning on ditching most of their furniture so they can fit all their books on the moving truck.  You can follow their latest moving adventure on Sarah's personal blog.

2 comments - Add a comment below -:

Tam said...

You are not alone. We recently found out we would be moving to our 5th state (6th move). We have only officially homeschooled in the last two. While I am grateful for my husbands successful career and we have had great adventures all over the U.S., I know there will be things my kids struggle with because of not being any one place more than 2-3 years.

This move has been the biggest struggle for me and last week Heavenly Father reminded me that this wasn't just about following careers it has been going where He needs us to be. So, off we go and maybe we will cross paths one day in our journey. We are headed to Colorado:)

Deila Taylor said...

This is great advice and I wish I had started homeschooling my first two kids from the beginning, and not had to go through the stress of changing schools. But I sure am glad that the last three kids have had the comfort of homeschool, where ever we moved. Our last move, my son was 14 and I told my husband, I have to be near a junior college -- so I can start his college courses early. That was our only need and it worked great.