Saturday, March 16, 2013

Why I Will Never Join The HSLDA

HSLDA - The Homeschool Legal Defense Association. In case you don't know the acronym in the title off the top of your head.

We've started, just barely, on homeschooling preschool with our soon-to-be 4 year old. Right now it's a light mix of felt shapes on the felt "learning board" I made for him, connect the dots counting books, puzzles and reading books to him. Preschool.... *sniff* my baby's growing up. 

Anyway, there's always the question, "how are WE going to homeschool?" There are so many different ways to do it. Unschooling, Waldorf inspired, box curriculum based, online curriculum based, bible based, etc. For those of you who have read more than one post on this blog, you won't be surprised to hear that the bible won't enter our curriculum until we get to religious studies or mythology units. I'd like us to do unit based homeschooling, tying in all the basics (reading/writing/rithmatic) into whatever unit we're studying that month. I'm not sure I've convinced hubby yet, I think he envisions some sort of boxed curriculum that helps him track and measure things. We'll probably try a bit of both, and maybe something else I can't even think of right now as we try to find what works for us and the boys.

There are a few things I know for sure though, and one of those is that we will NOT be joining up with HSLDA.  This group is a  hardline Christian organization. Complete with the unrestrained persecution complex that so many Christians espouse these days.  (As if the most populous religion in the country, with references to its deity on our money and in our pledge, could possibly be a persecuted people, give me a fucking break.) Complete also with the patriarchal views, the bigotry against gays and ties to people I actually would like to see persecuted. (I mean prosecuted... Freudian slip there.)

The Home School Legal Defense Association (HSLDA) has given workshops on how to stonewall social workers and used inflammatory scare tactics to work their member families into a tizzy, calling and badgering any politician, civil servant, or researcher who sees the need for change. They have helped create an environment where more kids will grow up like I did and they have held up “parental rights” as some golden calf, the be-all end-all. They apparently believe this so heavily and have had so little real opposition (I mean how much can children themselves fight this?), and they have been so litigious and nasty to the little bit of opposition that they have had, that for now they have won. They have successfully had more and more legislation to this effect passed and they are still doing so right now.
They haven’t done a very good job of sanitizing the stark reality of their position though, and that is that they apparently do not believe children have any rights except the right to be born.
In 2000, Christopher Klicka, the late longtime HSLDA director and homeschooling father of 7 even said “if children have rights, they could refuse to be home-schooled, plus it takes away parents’ rights to physically discipline their children.” Hmm, I wonder why any kid might not want the brand of homeschooling that they are selling?
While plenty homeschoolers refuse to have anything to do with the HSLDA, lots of conservative Christian homeschoolers still pay dues to them for their legal services and the HSLDA uses that money to further deregulate and expand into some even more suspect causes, like ensuring that the United States is the only other nation besides Somalia and South Sudan to have not ratified the U.N. Convention on the Rights of the Child. HSLDA’s founder, Michael Farris, is even trying to get a “parental rights amendment” put into the U.S. constitution instead. HSLDA does a lot of fear mongering about a supposed future anti-Christian backlash, a coming persecution of dedicated homeschoolers, and fanning this fear keeps them in business. The fact is, no matter how many press releases they send out, this just isn’t happening. We also aren’t in the 70′s anymore, when pioneering homeschoolers sometimes got threatened with truancy prosecutions. The worry that we need this total deregulation to prevent social workers from snatching up homeschooled kids is not only unfounded, it is elevating a far-fetched dystopian threat while ignoring the dystopian reality that I and far too many other homeschooled children have actually lived.-HeatherJanes
The Home School Legal Defense Association reduces homeschooling freedoms by knowingly disseminating inaccurate information, an example being the UN's Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities. It contained dreaded phrases like, "the rights of children" and "equal treatment of men and women." If there's anything conservative Christions fear more than those phrases, it would have to contain a mention of LGBT peoples as human and worthy of respect. Another view point that HSLDA stridently opposes. I don't agree with their premise that equal rights for gays and lesbians would be a blow against anyone's homeschooling rights. This organization whips its members into a fearful frenzy at every opportunity, then uses their membership monies to fight political fights against a wide range of non-homeschooling related causes.  See aforementioned LGBT rights and women's reproductive rights.

All the while, HSLDA ignores the actual problems present in the homeschooling community.  HeatherJanes' story is one of the many you can find online as a whole generation of children reach adulthood and freedom and are telling the sordid truth about their conservative Christian "homeschooling" experiences. HeatherJanes was the only one of her 6 or 7 siblings to learn to read. I've read of girls getting far less schooling than their brothers, right now that's completely legal, if incredibly sad for those girls. Stories of abuse being hid by keeping the children at home where there are no required reporters.

So, that begs the question, will we join ANY homeschool association? Possibly. We may join up with the local school district's homeschool association if they have one. We may try to join up with a local parent-organized homeschool group.  We may find however that all the options local to us are heavily geared towards and populated by conservative Christians. And if that is the case, we may just avoid the hassle and hate and heathen comments and do our own thing to our own beat. There are of course online communities for non-christian homeschoolers.
Heathen Homeschoolers - was supposed to be back up and running last fall, but has not yet come back. *cross my fingers*
Secular Homeschooling has a magazine.  There used to be a couple of blogs I followed, but they got attacked by rabid Christians and no longer feel comfortable blogging. So, I'll keep looking. We'll find us a community.

An organization that is truly representative of a broad spectrum of homeschoolers:

* Has a governing body freely elected by the members
* Requires no statement of faith for officers, employees, lobbyists, members, or as a condition of service
* Has a board of directors with a diverse make up, not only one type of homeschooler
* Holds elections that are open, free and democratic
* Surveys members for their opinions
* Takes action based on members' opinions
* Remains neutral on non-homeschooling issues

HSLDA Embodies None of These.



Jon Lorisen said...

You may not want to say but I'm curious, why homeschool at all?

heatherjanes said...

Hi, just noticed there was a link to my blog and stopped by to check it out. Sadly it's rare to see current homeschoolers who will speak out about HSLDA's influence and leadership being such an issue and cool to see that you did and said you are looking for something different. I imagine more of the second generation homeschoolers (first timers included) will do this because it's more about being an educational choice than a culture wars tool. Anyway, your list of what a homeschooling support org should be got me thinking. :)

Anonymous said...

Happy to have found your blog. We just started homeschooling and I happened upon HSLDA's website. They seem to be a great resource for homeschoolers but upon further perusal of their website I noticed their political/religious views. I will not be joining that organization either as I do not support their hateful beliefs. Will have to check out