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For those in Maryland/DC/VA or those that do not mind driving or taking the MARC train to Baltimore, the Maryland Science Center is now taking reservations (i.e., payment) for their homeschool events which are scheduled from September 5th through the 21st and here are links to the fall schedule, course descriptions, and pricing. Classes are selling out pretty quickly, so make your reservation today.

What are your rights as a parent? I guess it really depends on who/what you ask. Here in the State of Maryland, I have recently learned that my rights can be summed up as follows:

“And although a parent does have a right to control the upbringing of a child, “that right is not absolute. It must bend to the State’s duty to educate its citizens,” the state board wrote.”

This quote is from our State Board of Education as it relates to a series of lawsuits in a neighboring county regarding their health plan that deals with homosexuality. More information can be found here at the Washington Post.

While on the topic of parents rights, I came across this little ditty from the Washington Times, it is from a recent Supreme Court decision.

“While parents may have a fundamental right to decide whether to send their child to a public school, they do not have a fundamental right generally to direct how a public school teaches their child.”

The article is an opinion piece by Michael Smith of Home School Legal Defense Fund and has many positives about homeschooling which if you live in Maryland may be a good idea considering your parental rights are absolute to an extent.

Article published Jul 9, 2007
Supreme Court levels playing field

July 9, 2007

Michael Smith – It is no secret that home-schooling is growing and gaining credibility as a viable educational alternative.

More and more colleges are actively recruiting home-schooled students, each year there are an estimated 50,000-plus home-school high school graduates who find work or go to college and thousands of new curriculum products have become available over the past five years. Meanwhile, the number of home-schoolers continues to grow by 7 percent to 15 percent each year, more states are reforming their laws to remove the burdens from parents who want to home educate, and home-schoolers continue to excel in national competitions as well as on standardized tests. In short, home-schooling is a major success story.

Now, for the first time, home-schooling has been recognized in an opinion by a U.S. Supreme Court justice as a viable educational alternative. Morse v. Frederick, which recently made national headlines, involves free speech and whether a public school can regulate what a student says. The 5-4 decision said that the school principal, Deborah Morse, did not violate the free speech rights of Joseph Frederick when she took down his pro-marijuana banner, which said “Bong Hits 4 Jesus.” The student had violated school policy and was advocating illegal drug use.

While the Home School Legal Defense Association agrees with the ruling in this specific case, it is a reminder to all families that when your child enters the public school, you have virtually ceded your parental rights to the public school.

The clearest explanation of this view was expressed by the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals in Fields v. Palmdale, when it said, “While parents may have a fundamental right to decide whether to send their child to a public school, they do not have a fundamental right generally to direct how a public school teaches their child.”

This is the reason many parents have chosen to home-school, especially those parents who have a religious worldview, because they know their children will be taught secular values by the public system.

In Morse v. Frederick, however, Justice Clarence Thomas said, “If parents do not like the rules imposed by those schools, they can seek redress in school boards or legislatures; they can send their children to private schools or home school them; or they can simply move.”

This is the first time the Supreme Court specifically has recognized home-schooling as a viable educational alternative. HSLDA has worked for 24 years to advance a parent’s right to home-school and to promote home-schooling to the general public.

After 24 years, it is gratifying to read the words of a Supreme Court justice who rightfully placed home-schooling on a level playing field with public and private schools. This kind of recognition is tremendously significant to the home-school community.

It’s another step on the long road to raise home-schooling to the point where, when the terms public, private or home-school are used in the same sentence, they all will be seen as mainstream educational alternatives.

Home-schooling is a modern education success story and HSLDA urges all parents to carefully consider their educational options. Home-schooling should be front and center because it is a viable alternative that has helped hundreds of thousands of children become mature, productive citizens.

Michael Smith is the president of the Home School Legal Defense Association. He may be contacted at 540/338-5600; or send e-mail to media@hslda.org.

Today’s Washington Post article – Giving Proper Credit to Homeschooled.

Interesting article that looks at how colleges are revamping their admissions criteria to make way for the homeschooled student.

Giving Proper Credit To Home-Schooled
With Applications From Nontraditional Students Rising, More Universities Are Revamping Evaluation Methods

By Michael Alison Chandler
Washington Post Staff Writer
Monday, June 11, 2007; B01

In the pursuit of a homemade high school education, Jay Voris played drums in Guinea, Colin Roof restored a 134-year-old sailboat in Ireland, and Rebecca Goldstein wrote a 600-page fantasy novel and took calculus at the University of Maryland Baltimore County.

The independent-minded Maryland students and two dozen others gathered at a Unitarian Universalist Church in Annapolis one afternoon this month for an alternative graduation ceremony that is becoming more common across the country as home schooling expands. Now the movement is gaining ground in a crucial arena: college admissions.

Goldstein, 18, of Ellicott City will be a full-time student at UMBC in the fall. Alan Goldstein said his daughter’s idiosyncratic education distinguished her from “cookie cutter” applicants from conventional schools and helped her gain entrance into honors programs and win a full scholarship. Others at the June 2 commencement are bound for St. John’s College, Hampshire College, the University of Rochester and other liberal arts schools.

Admissions officers accustomed to evaluating class rankings, transcripts and recommendations from professional teachers have long faced challenges in evaluating home-schooled applicants. How much weight should be given to student performance in a class of one or two? Or credits assigned for horseback riding or hiking the Appalachian Trail? Or glowing recommendations from Mom?

“Granted, everybody’s kids are great,” said Earl Granger, associate provost for enrollment at the College of William and Mary. “But it’s great when we can get an external source to really comment on a student’s progress.”

Colleges are finding ways to adapt to the growing market. Eighty-three percent had formal policies for evaluating the home-schooled in 2004, up from 52 percent in 2000, according to the National Association for College Admission Counseling. Many rely on standardized tests.

At William and Mary, home-school applications have increased from 49 to 67 in the past two years. The college has a designated home-school admissions counselor, who advises applicants to supplement the regular SAT reasoning test with SAT subject tests. The counselor also encourages having a nonrelative write a recommendation.

Former Stanford University admissions counselor Jon Reider, one of the first to draft an admissions policy for home-schoolers, said such applicants often stood out for their maturity.

“There were things these home-schoolers had,” Reider said. “A certain amount of responsibility. They were in charge of their learning process. They were impatient with normal assignments and reading lists.”

When Reider left Stanford seven years ago, he said there were 36 home-school applications. This year, the university counted 104.

Reider said the rising number of home-schoolers means they will have to work harder to set themselves apart. “A lot of people in America are doing this,” he said.

Twenty-five years ago, it was illegal in many states for parents without teaching licenses to educate their children at home. But the number has grown as state regulations have eased. More than a million students — about 2 percent of the school-age population — were home-schooled in 2003, according to the most recent data from the U.S. Education Department. U.S. Census data show there were 350,000 home-schooled students in 1994 and nearly 800,000 in 1999.

Parents who were once forced to scour catalogs for textbooks are now backed by a nearly $1 billion-a-year curriculum industry that offers classrooms-in-a-box and virtual high school courses. Home-school networks also have proliferated, offering group classes, organized sports, debate clubs and social activities. All of that is helpful to college recruiters, who want to see extracurricular activities and high marks from online courses or community colleges to validate parent-designated 4.0 GPAs.

Goldstein’s transcript was loaded with A’s from Howard Community College, UMBC and her mother. To fulfill state requirements, she also had a consultant from a private school, the Learning Community International, review her progress and grades at home. Most states do not require such oversight.

Her college application pointed out some unusual classes, including one she developed about Lord Nelson and British maritime history during the Napoleonic War as well as a logic and problem-solving course that she liked to take while “eating Hershey’s chocolate and listening to Beethoven’s Moonlight Sonata,” she said at graduation.

Since the 1980s, home schooling has gained widespread popularity among evangelical Christians. Patrick Henry College in Loudoun County, founded by a prominent home-school advocate, targets such students.

In Richmond this past weekend, a Home Educators Association of Virginia convention was expected to draw thousands of parents and students, with about 200 students receiving diplomas in a group graduation ceremony. At the convention, recruiters from Christian universities set up booths alongside vendors selling books on how to teach subjects from a biblical perspective.

Cynthia Hay of Fredericksburg, a home-schooling mother of two, was among many people attending a panel discussion on college admissions Friday. Hay said she recently took her daughter Katie, a rising senior, on an East Coast college tour and found a warm reception almost everywhere. Katie is planning to apply to William and Mary, but her first choice is Princeton University. She has good test scores and grades and is involved in a church band and Girl Scouts. This year, she started taking community college classes.

Hay said she will savor her last year as Katie’s teacher. “The saddest thing about her graduation is that I wish I could do it again,” she said.

Our Scripture

He will be like a tree firmly planted by streams of water, which yields its fruit in its season and its leaf does not wither; and in whatever he does, he prospers. ~Psalm 1:3

Something to think about…

"I never teach my pupils: I only attempt to provide the conditions in which they can learn." ~ Albert Einstein
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