Should homeschoolers be concerened with the NEA?
Jen over at Follow my Whimsy responds to a little homeschool outrage over an article posted on the NEA's website. I was actually surprised this particular article was making any stir at all anymore seeing as it is pretty old. I do not remember when I first read it, but the first reference to it on Technorati was over a year ago. But this led into an interesting question:
Yes, the NEA has made it clear that they do not think homeschools can offer students "a comprehensive education experience". Still, they have been pretty silent on the subject since 2002. That's five years! Why are we still worried about what they said five years ago? Actually why are we worried about what they say at all?
Obvious to those who frequent this blog, I disagree. Let's start with what the NEA said and when they said it. I'll spare you the entire quote because I think we have read it enough. You can follow the link if you want to read it for old time's sake.
The National Education Association believes that home schooling programs based on parental choice cannot provide the student with a comprehensive education experience...
I know this came up in the NEA's 1995 Resolutions, which is indeed a very long time ago. Jen mentions a 2002 date. But I took this quote from Resolution B-75 of the 2007-08 NEA Resolutions (pdf) published this past July. This is the "guiding vision," so to speak, for this school year. It is not ancient history, and the NEA has remained constant in their opposition to homeschooling.

I'm not so worried about what they said five years ago. What they said less than three months ago is enough for me to go on for now. So, why are we worried about what they say at all?

With 3.2 million members and a budget of over $300 million, it is the largest professional employee organization in the US and acts as both a professional association and a labor union. It lobbies heavily, maintaining a strong presence at the local, state and national levels through candidate endorsements and providing funds to campaigns. It is the largest, and perhaps most respected, voice in education.

So when the NEA speaks, people listen.

Homeschoolers, on the other hand, comprise less than 4% of the population. The entire homeschooling population likely numbers less than the NEA's membership rolls. In public discussion, we are at a bit of a disadvantage. Our society is plagued by a number of stereotypes and misperceptions about homeschooling, so when the NEA says that homeschooling parents should be licensed by the state and use state approved curriculum, most of America agrees. In fact, in the 33rd Annual Phi Delta Kappa/Gallup Poll, we find that the majority of Americans believe the homeschooling movement to be a "bad thing for the nation."

As homeschoolers, we have not earned the level of liberty we have in educating our children by remaining passive and uninvolved. We have done so by maintaining a voice. By writing legislators when bills affecting homeschooling have come to the floor. By engaging in public discussion when homeschooling issues are raised. By providing an answer when homeschooling is criticized. Whether that criticism is in the form of an editorial, a news report or a statement by the NEA, somewhere a homeschooler likely has an answer.

What difference is it to me what the NEA, AAP, or the NAESP say about homeschooling? In short, I see it as the difference between homeschooling legally and compulsory school attendance.

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