Here are things we can do to maintain our freedoms. They require understanding and a strong commitment, but except in the time of a crisis, they do not require much time or money. They provide important learning opportunities for us and our children. And they help us discover how to maintain freedoms in other areas of our lives as well.
Click on each of the following Ten Principles to learn more.
Have a copy of the homeschooling statute available for reference when you need it. Don’t ask school officials or the Department of Public Instruction (DPI) for information about statutes, regulations, or what is required. They often do not know, misunderstand, have been misinformed, or have purposely misconstrued what the statutes or regulations say. Be careful about information from books or websites that cover the laws in all 50 states. They sometimes provide only the text of the statutes without essential information about how they are interpreted and enforced, or interpret the law of one state through their experience with the law in another state, oftentimes ending up with an incorrect or inaccurate interpretation.
However, do only the minimum the law requires. When people do otherwise, they voluntarily and unnecessarily increase the power and authority that public officials have over homeschoolers. They set precedents that limit their freedoms and those of other homeschoolers. Therefore, if a school official asks or tells you to do more than is required, politely refuse and explain what is and is not required. If they persist, ask them to show you the statute or regulation that gives them the authority to make such a request.
Occasionally, it may be tempting to take what seems like the easy way out and do more than the minimum by showing officials things such as our curriculum, school calendars, samples of our children’s work, or test scores, even though these are not required by statute in Wisconsin. Perhaps we are proud of our children’s accomplishments or want to educate officials about homeschooling or show them how well it works. But any action that exceeds statutes or regulations sets a precedent and is likely to increase demands officials make of us and other homeschoolers in the future. It may also increase the questions, doubts, concerns, and criticisms that officials have about our homeschooling.
--Public school at home programs, including virtual charter schools.
--Public or private schools which employ a part-time-on-campus and part-time-at-home model.
--Wisconsin-based online or virtual schools, including schools which participate in one of the Private School Choice Programs, which receive taxpayer monies.
However, there is no such thing as a free lunch. Such benefits are likely to be followed by increased regulation, especially since the government is accountable for how tax dollars are spent. Even benefits that seem quite safe, like homeschoolers playing on public school sports teams, have opened the door for increased regulation of homeschooling. (Athletes who are public school students need to meet eligibility requirements. Reports from homeschoolers across the state who have chosen to play public school sports show that some schools are asking for things that are not legally required of homeschoolers, such as curriculum, grades, and health records.)
Regulation stemming from favors or benefits would undoubtedly apply to all homeschoolers, not just those accepting the benefits. Families would not have the option of refusing the benefit and avoiding the increased regulation.
It’s important for homeschoolers to resist the temptation to seek benefits or favors from the government, to refuse such benefits if they are offered, to make it clear to legislators that they do not want such benefits, and to encourage other homeschoolers to do these things as well.
Remember that your actions affect other homeschoolers’ freedoms.
Joining WHPA is an excellent way to work with other homeschoolers. WHPA is strong because it includes all homeschoolers, regardless of their approach to learning, homeschooling, lifestyle, philosophy, politics, or religious beliefs. WHPA is strong because it relies on people like you knowing their rights and responsibilities. Our homeschooling freedoms depend on our working together. Renew your membership; tell others about WHPA; donate; and attend the annual conference and resource fair. Also consider joining a local homeschooling support group. If none exists in your area, start one.
These ten principles are the reasons homeschoolers in Wisconsin have been able to maintain their freedoms. WHPA has had to work hard to maintain them in the face of opposition to homeschooling from the educational establishment, some legislators, and some members of the general public.
Together we can preserve independent, parent-led, privately-funded educational freedom for homeschooling families who take direct responsibility for the education of their children.
Click here to read the Wisconsin homeschooling statutes.
Last Updated on 06/16/22