Issue 33 | November 16, 2012 | Featuring Steve Moitozo

The history of NARHS's development parallels the growth of the home schooling movement in America.  Back when the founders Steve and Carol Moitozo began home schooling their two children, there was no such thing as co-ops, because in Maine, there was no one to co-op with!  Read Steve's engaging recollections of home schooling in its early stages.  


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  Steve Moitozo  Our family of four lived in Maine beginning in 1977. In the March 1984  edition of the magazine Moody Monthly (from the Moody Bible Institute in Chicago) ran 6 articles on a phenomenon called, "Home Schools" 

 Simultaneously, both our son and daughter were in a small Christian school, Stephen in 3rd grade, Stephanie in 1st grade.  When the 3rd-quarter report cards arrived, our son had straight A's in all subjects...but he scored only 20-something on the "Iowa Test of Basic Skills" standardized test in Reading.

 When we consulted with the 3rd grade teacher, the exchange was short, and went something like this:

          PARENT (me):  "How can our son get straight A's in all subjects, including reading, yet score so miserably on the standardized achievement test?"

          TEACHER: "Well, he did score very well in the classes and surpassed most students, but I didn't teach the class 3rd grade reading -- I taught them 2nd grade reading.

          PARENT:  Why?

          TEACHER: "Because the rest of the class wasn't ready for 3rd grade reading, so I re-taught them 2nd grade reading."

          PARENT:  "I think I heard you say that our son was not taught 3rd grade reading because the other students weren't ready for it?"

          TEACHER:  That's correct.

 That answer seemed perfectly reasonable to someone-- but not to me and not to my wife!  If my son's academic progress will depend on how the OTHER students do, then Iwant to change that system!

 We dug out the Moody Monthly again and I called the Maine Dept. of Education and made an appointment to meet with the School Approval Consultant.  All phone calls pointed to him, so he was their go-to man for homeschooling information.  This was Spring 1984 and for all of the State of Maine his office had 4 students reporting to him as "students receiving equivalent instruction through home instruction."  Four (yes, 4) in all of 1983; that number rose to 25 in 1984.  The entire school-age population of the state had 25 students homeschooled.

 I asked what parents were allowed to do and not allowed to do if they homeschooled.

 His answers were reasonable, and then he stopped short to say, "That's all about to change."  He went on to explain that four local Superintendents of Schools were concerned about the growing numbers of home educated students, so they combined resources and came up with "Administrative Rules" they were bringing to a hearing of the Joint Standing Committee on Education.  These would NOT become "Law," but would carry the weight of law under the "Administrative Procedures Act."

 The page of guidelines he had first shown me was simple. The current (old) guidelines began near the top of the page and ended at the bottom of the page.  That's it -- simple, reasonable, one page.

 The new proposed policy was 84 pages long.  It was strict and rigid and began by requiring every parent who wants to teach their child at home to be a certified Maine teacher!  Oh boy!  And that was followed by 83 MORE pages detailing approval of curriculum, mandatory testing, home visits, quarterly review of the student progress by a school official, and on and on. Under the proposed rule, students' high school work must be reviewed by the head of each department of the public high school.  Oh, and when the heads of Science, English, Math, Social Studies, etc. gave their approval of the accomplishments, the student was not allowed to enroll in the public high school at the grade level he had achieved -- no, he would have to begin high school at the 9th grade level.  No home school high school work would count for any credits, not even electives.

 How did we deal with this?   What could we do?  When was that hearing?   How do these things work?

 To be continued...