In the comments on my last post about HSLDA, Susan brings up a couple of issues that I think are worth additional discussion. Since I tend to be so wordy, I figured that it would be best to start a new post rather than respond in the comments. The two issues, as I see them, are:
- Concerns over infighting over HSLDA among homeschoolers. That many tend to reflexively oppose anything and everything that HSLDA does (which might result in overlooking actual problems) and that this reflexive opposition causes needless division in the homeschooling community.
- Whether the health care debate really is a “very partisan political” debate at the grassroots level and whether homeschoolers should be concerned.
These are two big issues, so I am going to take them one at a time, starting with the reflexive response of some homeschoolers to HSLDA. Susan writes:
HSLDA interfered (unsuccessfully) in a behind the scenes way with IL homeschooling freedoms. They are lawyers and the more laws, the better for them. Often, their actions seem no different than a government bureaucracy. (I ‘dual-purpose’ homeschool for learning freedoms reasons and to keep government infringements away from my family.)
Homeschooling is a political act. Sometimes hslda gets it right regarding protection of homeschooling freedoms, which should be under the umbrella of family freedoms. I’d rather HSLDA didn’t exist, but at the same time, I can’t react negatively to everything they do. (I understand that the VA-Homeschoolers group doesn’t react in such a universal manner.) It turns too many of my homeschooling companions off. We don’t need that in this day and age of state and federal law increases concerning various aspects of our family lives.
First off, I want to clarify that I am speaking only for myself here, NOT as a representative of VaHomeschoolers. The VaHomeschoolers board is made up of people with diverse political views (and was founded by two evengelical Christians) and, in my opinion, is proof that homeschoolers of all stripes can put aside their political differences and work together for homeschool freedoms. The viewpoints I express on this blog are my personal opinions only.
I actually agree with Susan about not reflexively opposing everything that HSLDA does and the importance of not dividing the homeschool community. I do know people who portray HSLDA as evil-incarnate and who wish to bring about their demise. I am not one of those people. It seems like a waste of time to me and I have better things into which to put my energy. I would rather put my time and energy into working for homeschool freedoms rather than against HSLDA. So that is exactly what I do.
I think that my work with VaHomeschoolers (where we coordinate with both HEAV and HSLDA (whose headquarters is here in Virginia) as well as my work as a moderator of VaElecticHS (an inclusive statewide homeschool email list) has helped me learn how to share my viewpoint while being respectful of others with differing opinions (at least I hope so!) With 1,200+ members on VaEclecticHS, we have many members who do not share my beliefs and many who are HSLDA members and I by no means wish to alienate any of them nor make VaEcleticHS somehow an unwelcoming place for them.
However, I do not feel that this means that I need to be quiet and not say anything when HSLDA is mentioned. What I focus on is that here in Virginia it is very easy to homeschool and there is a lot of support (both at the local and statewide level). The likelihood of “needing a lawyer” is very slim and most issues that arise can be easily handled (and in some instances can be better handled) without involving lawyers. I also point out that some homeschoolers are also not comfortable with HSLDA’s mixing of political causes with homeschooling and feel that it hurts homeschooling politically to be associated with controversial non-homeschool issues (regardless of whether they support those issues).
But I also state that this is my viewpoint and that everyone needs to make their own decision about what is best for their family. I don’t see my role as stopping people from joining HSLDA (not my place nor my decision). But I do feel that it is ok to provide an additional information for new homeschoolers who may be nervous and think that homeschooling “insurance” is something that is necessary and who may also not be aware of the political activities of HSLDA. Providing an alternate viewpoint helps each family make a more informed decision. And if done in a respectful manner, I don’t think that it has to cause division in the homeschooling community.
My previous post about HSLDA not speaking for me, was less about HSLDA and more about wanting homeschoolers to be seen as the diverse community it is. The more that liberal homeschoolers (and conservative homeschoolers who do not wish homeschooling to be politicized) speak out, the less we will be pigeonholed into a particular stereotype. Again, I am just not comfortable being silent and letting an organization that I do not agree with speak for me. Respectful yes, silent no.
As far as the second point about health care as a homeschool issue, I think I will save that for another post. Of course that means that I need to find time to write it, but I will give it my best shot. Things are fairly busy around here and I can’t believe that summer is almost over. But I hope to have time because I think it will help me sort out a bunch of thoughts that I have on the issue…of course it might also open up another whole can of worms, but that is what makes blogging fun, right? Discussing and fine tuning ideas and opinions. All good in my book.