When our family lived in Oregon in 1994 and we were looking for that country homestead in Kentucky, we wanted to know about Kentucky’s homeschooling laws. We knew all about Oregon’s laws, and had been homeschooling for two years. What was Kentucky like?
Our question led us to Kentucky Home Education Association and those super nice folks sent us a very helpful packet of information. We moved to Kentucky in December 1994 as informed homeschooling parents, thanks to KHEA.
Almost a decade later, I now return the favor by answering inquiries from homeschooling families moving to Kentucky. KHEA has answered several dozen e-mail inquiries since this school year has started, and most are from people in Kentucky who want to begin homeschooling. Queries range from, “How do I get started homeschooling?” and “Does my DPP have the right to ask to see all my curriculum,” to “Can I pull my child out of school at any time?” Each e-mail message receives a personal response. Sometimes we answer inquiries from homeschoolers who want to organize a support group where no support group currently exists. (We LOVE those e-mails!)
We also answer phone calls, and some come with real live emergencies, when a family suddenly finds itself in crisis simply because others do not always recognize their rights to homeschool. One board member recently spent many hours helping such a homeschooling family in Kentucky.
Connie Laffin, our president, has already churned out over a half-dozen letters this year informing local school officials in various parts of the state how important it is to understand homeschool rights, and correcting their misconceptions. She’s also called school officials in an effort to put out some brush fires of misunderstanding in various parts of the commonwealth.
KHEA stands ready to defend homeschool freedoms, but what does that preparation involve? It involves quite a lot, actually.
Most importantly, we on the board understand that KHEA is its members. In order to steer this baby through sometimes choppy waters of anti-homeschooling sentiment, we’ve got to keep in touch with all of you. So we visit support groups around the state. Since we know that support groups are born, thrive, and sometimes contract and re-group, we also visit new startups to offer encouragement and keep everyone connected.
Since the 2003-2004 school year began, board members have visited homeschoolers in London, Elizabethtown, Campbellsville, Bowling Green, Russellville, Murray, and Frankfort.
We produce a half-dozen newsletters per year for our members, and plan an annual support group leaders’ seminar, with helpful information for support group leaders on how to respond to questions and concerns about homeschooling in their local community.
All this communication with the commonwealth’s homeschooling families is key to keeping our freedoms. Why? We’re a team, and every member can help build positive relationships in their community. Such teamwork creates a strong, grassroots foundation of positive public perception of homeschooling. Building those relationships community by community can shift homeschooling opponents into neutral and sometimes those critics even switch into reverse, and embrace homeschooling. By empowering you to be confident in your community, the face of homeschooling becomes personal and positive to your neighbors, elected officials, and community leaders.
As a board, we must be ready to monitor any potential legislative threats to our homeschool freedoms. Board member Bill Monroe will be checking in the weeks before and during the legislative season on any activity coming from the Kentucky House, while I’ll be keeping tabs on the Senate. We’ll also take the time to introduce ourselves to education committee chairpersons.
We love building relationships. Bill and I recently had the opportunity to spend almost two hours having lunch with Kentucky Education Department’s Homeschool Liaison Crichton Comer. In the process, we learned a lot about the concerns and motivations of one of the key players in the homeschool debate. We also had the opportunity to articulate our perspective and our concerns.
Your KHEA representatives have productive discussions with the leaders of the DPP organization in Kentucky, and we invite representatives of this organization to our annual support group seminars in Lexington and Hopkinsville.
We also touch base with our fellow defenders of homeschool freedoms, Christian Home Educators of Kentucky. We do this because we all work together to defend homeschooling in Kentucky.
In 2003, we’ve added a new partner to our relationship list: the state’s public librarians. The KHEA board will be doing a presentation at the state’s public librarian conference in Lexington in May. As part of that presentation, we’ll be helping librarians better serve the homeschooling community. We have updated our homeschooling resource packet and will be distributing copies to librarians and support groups in early to mid-2004.
So folks, that’s what we do. We thank you for your support. We couldn’t do any of it without you. Together, we work to give our children educational excellence through home education.