Time: Tue Sep 02 07:03:07 1997
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	Tue, 2 Sep 1997 06:53:33 -0700 (MST)
Date: Tue, 02 Sep 1997 06:53:35 -0700
To: (Recipient list suppressed)
From: Paul Andrew Mitchell [address in tool bar]
Subject: SLS: Homeschooling -- "Fastest Growing Movement" (fwd)

>>From the Houston Chronicle:
>7:44 PM 9/1/1997 
>Home school expertise, teaching materials
>Copyright 1997 Houston Chronicle 
>Curriculum advice, teaching aids and research support
>for home schooling were all in short supply in the
>movement's formative years. 
>Not today. Now there's almost too much from which to
>Materials such as texts, workbooks, curriculum outlines,
>achievement tests, reference works, computer software
>and even soup-to-nuts teaching packages are available.
>Stores, organizations and individual entrepreneurs have
>magazines, catalogs and Internet sites. 
>Professional expertise is easier than ever to find within
>home schooling's growing corps of writers, consultants
>and tutors. In some cases the consulting and tutoring are
>supplied by teachers from private schools that, besides
>offering materials and advice, also offer long-distance
>learning online or by mail. School work is reviewed by
>teachers dealing directly with parents and students. 
>One such provider is Oak Meadow School in Putney,
>Vt., where the offerings cover kindergarten through
>12th-grade studies. The school will provide transcripts
>and letters of recommendation for home-school students
>headed to college, and it even stages a high-school
>graduation ceremony each June. 
>In addition, libraries, museums, zoos, private schools and
>even some public schools are showing new interest in
>helping home schoolers. While local schools in Texas
>don't offer much, others elsewhere offer fairly extensive
>For example, 11 years ago in San Diego, Calif., the
>county education agency began to provide books,
>computer labs, on-call resource teachers, field trips, skill
>reviews and enrichment classes to home schoolers.
>Services are offered from satellite sites across the metro
>Twenty local school districts have joined the effort, and
>Orange County to the north in metropolitan Los Angeles
>has started its own version. 
>"We feel home schooling is here to stay. It's the
>fastest-growing movement in all of education," says
>Dolores Redwine, home education director for San
>Diego County. "Why not help where we can?" 
>But don't expect that level of official support in Texas. 
>"The (state Board of Education) and the (Texas
>Education Association) have decided to neither support
>nor hinder home schoolers, and so have we," says Susan
>Sclafani, chief of staff for educational services for the
>Houston school district. 
>"If (home schoolers) ask for our curriculum or the
>state's requirements (including sample TAAS tests), we
>provide it," she says. 
>Houston schools don't let home-school students join in
>extracurricular activities, she adds, because the TEA
>doesn't permit it. Some other states are more flexible. 
>As shaped by the TEA, which oversees public education
>across the state, the positions of most Texas school
>districts probably are like Houston's, officials say. 
>The Katy school district is one of several that send out
>questionnaires to track home schoolers, but response is
>voluntary and inconsistent. Those seeking help are
>referred to the Southeast Texas Home School
>Association in Houston. 
>The most basic challenge confronting most home
>schoolers is deciding what to teach. Beyond the
>fundamentals of reading, writing and arithmetic, many
>parents aren't sure which subjects to tackle, and when. 
>These days, however, figuring out a step-by-step,
>grade-by-grade curriculum is comparatively easy. 
>When it was time for Margaret Proctor, 43, and Alan
>Garms, 42, of Richmond to start home schooling their
>then-kindergartner Aven two years ago, help was right
>around the corner at the George Memorial Library. 
>Proctor went to librarians for advice. She also got on
>board with the Houston Alternative Education Alliance,
>the area's leading support group for secular home
>"To sort out everything that's available to you, you really
>need to rely on a support group," she advises. "You'll get
>different ideas. And socialization isn't an issue because
>of all the (group) activities." 
>Aven is now 7 and going into second-grade studies at
>home. "We can tell by comparing her with her
>public-school peers that she's doing well," says Garms, a
>college graduate and administrative social worker. 
>Proctor, also college-educated and employed as a social
>worker until Aven was born, believes her daughter is
>prepared for third grade. 
>What with classes at the Houston Museum of Natural
>Science, ice skating at The Galleria, private lessons in
>classical guitar, Galveston beach outings and her reading
>club, Aven is seldom bored. 
>Home schoolers who don't take to teaching instinctively
>can turn to a growing number of support groups. 
>Few engage in actual teacher training, however. As
>Clear Lake-area home schooler Sherry Weesner
>explains it, training at-home teachers would be
>antithetical to the do-it-yourself premise of home
>"Home schooling is tutoring," she says. "Public school
>teaching is classroom management." 
>Besides, she adds, "Many home schoolers believe
>there's no best way to learn, or teach." 
>Support groups are spread across the country. Their
>common featuresare their tendency to follow geographic
>lines and their credo that children should learn at home. 
>The Southeast Texas Home School Association, the
>umbrella organization for Christian home-school support
>groups in this region, was formed in 1986. Today it
>encompasses more than 100 other smaller support
>groups in Houston and across the upper Texas Gulf
>Coast. Houston alone has about 80 of them. 
>The region's major organization for secular home
>schoolers is the Houston Alternative Education Alliance,
>the group Aven's parents turned to. It has about 60
>member families. 
>"Because inclusive groups like HAEA are smaller,
>they've been overshadowed by the religious groups,"
>Weesner says. "But that's changing. It's an evolutionary
>thing. We're growing." 
>Texas' two statewide organizations -- the Texas Home
>School Coalition, based in Lubbock, and Home-Oriented
>Private Education for Texas, based in Dallas -- also
>were started in 1986. They work together as a sort of
>two-faceted state organization, comparable in tandem to
>the single statewide organizations that most other states
>have, says THSC President Tim Lambert. 
>Texas statewide has at least 300 local home-schooling
>support groups, with more being added each year. 
>The THSC began as a political action committee but
>long since has branched out into providing other
>services, such as workshops and a monthly newsletter.
>HOPE is more geared to meet home schoolers' practical
>needs, offering handbooks, education kits, resource
>materials, book fairs, a bimonthly newsletter and
>personalized high school diplomas for home-schooling
>parents to confer on their children. 
>The largest Christian home-schooling group is the Home
>School Legal Defense Association of Purcellville, Va.
>With about 55,000 member families paying $100 annual
>dues, it has more financial and political clout than any
>other group. 
>Begun in 1983 to help home schoolers fight hostile
>school districts and state agencies, the HSLDA focuses
>on litigation and congressional and legislative lobbying.
>Through its National Center for Home Education, it is
>expanding into other areas. 
>The emergence of HSLDA as the predominant
>home-schooling organization hasn't set well with
>everyone. Some critics wonder about the group's ties to
>conservative political causes that they say are endorsed
>or championed by association founder Michael Farris, a
>Republican political figure in Virginia. 
>Mark Hegener, publisher of Home Education Magazine,
>calls HSLDA "a political empire built on the backs of
>home schoolers" and believes its "centralizing power"
>runs contrary to most home schoolers' wishes. 
>But Chris Klicka with the National Center for Home
>Schooling, a part of the HLSDA, says the association's
>success owes mainly to its filling a need for home
>schoolers at large. 
>"We're a volunteer membership organization," he says.
>"We're not on anyone's back. We try to promote and
>preserve home schooling in general. We simply raised
>our banner and asked people to join. They did."

Paul Andrew Mitchell                 : Counselor at Law, federal witness
B.A., Political Science, UCLA;  M.S., Public Administration, U.C. Irvine

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