Wisconsin is the First State to End Minimum School Hours Rule

So the governor of my adopted home state of Wisconsin has announced that he thinks the state should end the minimum hours requirement for students and hand that over to individual school districts.

Of course, many of the commenters on this article are freaking out about this. I think Gov. Scott Walker’s decision is a good one. First of all, school control should be local, not state or federal. It’s up to parents to decide how their children should be educated. I’m all for everything school-related being run locally (President Trump, please abolish the Dept. of Education!)

Second, there is no correlation between how much a child learns and how many hours a day he or she is in school. A day that’s too long can actually work against learning, and smart motivated kids can burn through their work quickly while average or challenged children will take longer. One size does not fit all!

Finally, here in Wisconsin, the public schools offer an virtual academy option, where children work at their own pace. So there are already many children who are not forced into the “X hours per day” mold of school.

Good for you, Gov. Walker. This is a great first step. I’ll be eager to see what you come up with next.

Schools and Chicken Legislators

The highway that runs through the town we live in is the one Democratic members of the state legislature took recently when they ran like cowards from the state capitol of Madison to cross the Wisconsin/Illinois border so they wouldn’t have to vote against the teachers’ unions.

That event was still fresh in my mind this morning when I heard on the radio that Indiana legislators are now copying the Wisconsin chickens by crossing the border into Illinois to avoid voting on school vouchers.

How interesting that they’ll go to such lengths because they don’t want parents to be allowed to direct their tax dollars to the educational institutions of their choice.

The reason, of course, is that if all parents were to do that, the already shaky public school system would weaken, private schools would thrive, and homeschoolers would be able to use tax dollars to pay for the cost of homeschooling their children.*

I know many parents would still send tax dollars to the public schools, and that would be their right. It would also force public schools to cut back on the ridiculously high administrative costs they incur; I’m betting that the current $10,000+ per student per year average cost would drop dramatically. And that would be a good thing.

After all, when I was a kid, and we Baby Boomers clogged up schools all over the country, a school could be run with just a principal, a couple of secretaries, a librarian, a gym teacher and a few custodians. Also, there was no huge bloated district office running our school district; just a superintendent with an office staff. Why can’t this happen again? It should happen again, because in this economy, who can afford continually rising property taxes to pay for schools that can’t even teach most kids to read well?

*Personally, I wouldn’t take money from the government to homeschool my kids, because I don’t want them telling me what to teach. But all homeschooling parents should certainly have that option.

No More Homeschool Mom?

I just finished submitting the online form required of homeschooling parents here in Wisconsin…..for the last time.

Our youngest child turns 18 next spring. According to Wisconsin law, we can legally stop educating him after that semester, whether or not he graduates.

Of course, he’s not done learning (is anyone, really?) and we’ll continue to work with him as we always have. But it’s a strange feeling to think that we’ll no longer be officially homeschooling after this school year.

I’ve been teaching my kids for well over 20 years; 27 years this month, to be precise, if homeschooling begins at birth. It’s really hard to think of myself as anything but a homeschooling mom. I guess I’ll have to start adjusting that view.

Special One-Day Homeschool Conference in Wisconsin

For those of you homeschooling in Wisconsin (plus those in other states who like to drive!), here’s some information about an upcoming homeschool conference:

Greetings, Fellow Wisconsin Homeschoolers!

My name is Tina Hollenbeck. I currently serve on the board of the Green Bay Area Christian Homeschoolers (GBACH), and I am writing to invite you and your group members to a special one-day homeschool conference that we are sponsoring on Saturday, April 25, 2009.

On that day, we are hosting a phenomenal, internationally-known speaker (and author of two books published by Moody), Dr. Kathy Koch, the founder and president of Celebrate Kids, Inc. (www.celebratekids.com).

Dr. Kathy is a former university professor of education who was called to start her ministry over 15 years ago. Through Celebrate Kids, she seeks to help “parents, educators, and children of all ages meet their core needs of security, identity, belonging, purpose, and competence in healthy ways. Through a problem-solving framework of these integrated needs, the ministry’s programs…provide solution-focused strategies that improve people’s intellectual, emotional, social, physical, and spiritual health.”

Dr. Kathy is known for sharing key, relevant, and practical truths with passion. Her clarity, illustrations, down-to-earth manner, and humorous style will make it easy for you to listen and learn. The time will fly by and you’ll apply new ideas and see them work within days! And, though she speaks in many venues, April 25 will be homeschool-specific.

During our conference, Dr. Kathy will address two key topics that are extremely relevant to homeschoolers:
Got Hope? Optimistic Living During Challenging Times
How Am I Smart? A Practical Guide to Multiple Intelligences

You can find details about these seminars by going to our website, www.gbach.org.

We would love for many in your group to take a “field trip” and be our guests that day. :^) And any who register by January 18, 2009, will receive an amazing 33% discount off the full conference price. What’s more, one registration fee (of only $30 by January 18) covers either an individual (if only one from a family can attend) or the cost of a husband and wife and any children in grade six or above!

I would greatly appreciate if you could pass on this information to every Wisconsin homeschooler you know (and, actually, virtual schoolers are welcome as well) as soon as possible, especially so that those interested might be eligible for the steepest discount.

Any interested individual or family can simply print out the registration form and return it with the proper fee to the address listed on the form. Of course, if you or anyone in your group has any questions, please do not hesitate to contact me. I will be more than happy to provide any additional information or clarifications.

We look forward to hearing from you and your group members – and to meeting many of you on Saturday, April 25, 2009.

Most sincerely,

Tina K. Hollenbeck