Issue 34 | November 23, 2012 | Featuring Steve Moitozo Part 2
The founder of NARHS, Steve Moitozo, was an important figure in shaping the home school laws in the state of Maine. During a turning point event with the Department of Education, he walked right into a great opportunity by asking four very logical questions.
(If you would like to read the previous newsletter, you can find it on the website www.narhs.org)
INSIDE NARHS: Meeting Compulsory Attendance
Compulsory school attendance laws are enacted in every state but with differing requirements. For some regions, students must attend "school" between the ages of 6-16, some 7-17 and others 6-18. In most cases, compulsory school attendance laws can be fulfilled by 1 of 4 means:
- Attending public school
- Attending private school
- Attending a qualified home school (in some states, there are no qualifications for home schools)
Under specific guidelines, compulsory school attendance laws may be exempt. Students who are ill or injured may be exempt for a period of time.
If a student is registered with NARHS, they are regarded as attending a private school and thus meet compulsory education requirements.
For exact details in your state, check with your state's department of education or its equivalent.
FEATURED AUTHOR: Steve Moitozo
(Quick review) As a novice home school parent, Steve Moitozo had been told by the Maine Department of Education that the home school regulations were being expanded from 1 page to 84 pages. A few of the details included these:
- Every parent who wants to teach a child at home must be a certified Maine teacher.
- The 83 additional pages detailed approval of curriculum, mandatory testing, home visits, and quarterly review of the student progress by a school official.
- Under the proposed rule, students' high school work must be reviewed by the head of each department of the public high school.
- High school students, whose work was approved, were not allowed to enroll at the grade level achieved, but rather would have to begin high school at the 9th grade level. No home school high school work would count for any credits.
Long story, but here's the ending. In May 1984, Ispoke at the hearing and asked 4 questions of the professionals who had written the regulations and made 1 suggestion. I addressed the four people who drafted the regulations,
- "How many of you have homeschooled your own children?"
- "Since none of you have homeschooled your children, how many of you were actually homeschooled?"
- "Since none of you were homeschooling parents and since none of you were homeschooled, how many of you have ever VISITED a homeschool?" We all knew the answers: None. None. None.
- "Since none of you have any experience as homeschoolers, none of you comes from a homeschooling family, and none of you have even visited a homeschool, how is it that you have the knowledge, experience, or insight to write regulations to control homeschooling?" (The crowd of 200+ murmured, grumbled, clapped, and cheered.)
I continued with my proposal: "I suggest that the government officials put these 84 pages on a shelf somewhere, then reassemble these four men AND four homeschool advocates and come up with regulations that both sides can live with."
The suggestion hit pay dirt and I was asked to serve on that group. Over the next 11 weeks, we met 19 times in a conference room at the Dept. of Education Building in Augusta. On September 13, 1984, the APA guidelines for "Equivalent Instruction through Home Instruction" were made public and we were legal, acceptable, functioning homeschoolers in Maine.
In these early struggles to have homeschooling "recognized and legal," there was so much concentration on law, enforcement, and rights, we overlooked a "fine point" -- families who wanted to homeschool were required to submit their proposal to the local Superintendent of schools and the Maine Dept. of Education, then wait 60 days before they were allowed to actually begin. I brought this up in my 1989 address before the House and Senate Joint Committee on Education with the following point: "I believe it defies common sense that if I want to homeschool my own child in Maine, there is a 60-day waiting period, but there is only a 3-day waiting period to buy a gun!" The move was on to overhaul the homeschool regulations even more in our favor.
By 1990, there were 1,048 homeschooled students in Maine and the governing regulations were changed in this way:
- delete the state subsidy to local school boards for each child that was homeschooled in their district (yes, they could actually add a homeschooled student to their "district count" and collect their subsidy while denying that student access to their services),
- allowed homeschooled students access to public school activities and occasional classes;
- allowed homeschooled students to play on the sports teams of the high school in their district; and
- deleted the 60-day waiting period.
During the in-between years (1984-1989), that 60-day waiting period was such a problem for want-to-be homeschoolers, I established a Maine authorized private school under Maine law. Homeschool parents could now use our school as their "cover" school for the 60-days and teach their child at home immediately under our auspices. Parents no longer "withdrew" their child from public school; instead they "transferred" their child to a private school."
We named our school "North Atlantic Regional School" the early predecessor to "North Atlantic Regional High School."
Now you know how and why NARHS was created! We'll hear more from Steve Moitozo, the founder of NARHS in the coming weeks.