As many of you are aware (including, by now, Judge Joe Dale Walker of District 13), the homeschooling community is very political. We know what's up. When the legislative session starts in Mississippi, I can think of several families off the top of my head who check the Bill Status web site for bills that would infringe upon our freedom to homeschool and then share that information far and wide. Many activist-moms also check for bills referencing vaccination, midwifery, animal cruelty, health care, disability, etc. So, knowing and protecting our rights is not just "a homeschool thing." It's a freedom thing.
HSLDA claims to help homeschoolers maintain their freedom to educate their children at home. I disagree. However, I didn't always. When I first began homeschooling, I almost joined HSLDA. Hey, it sounded like a great idea: protect my freedom for one low cost so that I can concentrate on educating my kids. But shortly after I started blogging in 2005, I began to see a different picture of HSLDA. One that:
- Narrowly defined what homeschooling is and who should homeschool.
- Authored restrictive homeschool legislation in many states to reflect these views.
- Refused to work with and, in many cases, even worked against local non-HSLDA homeschool associations.
My first exposure to the "other side" of HSLDA was in June of 2005. It wasn't even a high-profile legislative battle with far-reaching implications. It was a local matter in Prince William County, VA that was being handled by a small coalition of local homeschoolers. Despite their efforts and the promise of a successful outcome, HSLDA interfered and--in a matter of days--nearly destroyed the progress that took these families over 18 months to achieve. Although the effort was salvaged, the local homeschoolers ended up having to compromise with HSLDA. You can read about it here:
June 20, 2005: With friends like these...
June 20, 2005: HSLDA on Prince William County, VA
June 22, 2005: Congratulations, PW County!
June 25, 2005: Whaddaya mean "WE"??
This is not an isolated incident. HSLDA has a history of running roughshod over local non-HSLDA homeschool associations. And, to add insult to injury, the organization also has a habit of claiming full credit for or exaggerating its roles in successful outcomes, further marginalizing (and demoralizing) local homeschool community. Here is an article documenting the organization's pattern of disregard. Please read it.
I believe that local homeschoolers know better than anyone else just what we need to successfully homeschool in our home states. When HSLDA over-reaches and insists that it knows what we need better than we do, the consequences are long term. And we have to live with them long after their attorneys have flown back home.
This is not an organization that embodies my view of homeschool freedom. And this is why I and others like me (including many Christian families who are former HSLDA members) see this organization as part of the problem, not part of the solution.
[Coming soon: HSLDA's involvement in Mississippi and the potential consequences.]