Texas Ed: Comments on Education from Texas

December 2, 2006

Homeschoolers misinforming homeschoolers–and the public

Filed under: Homeschooling — texased @ 7:36 pm

It’s bad enough that public school officials give out bad information on homeschooling requirements such as requesting to view potential homeschoolers’ curriculum. What’s worst is when a homeschool organization contributes to the misinformation. The following is the FEAST (Family Educators Alliance of South Texas) website information for new homeschoolers.

Home Schooling:

7. Withdrawal: If your child is enrolled in a public or private school now, you must withdraw your child from that school. In Texas, your child is considered truant after 3 days of non-attendance. That is why you should not withdraw your child until after you have purchased or ordered your curriculum. You need to know your state laws as to notification and withdrawal procedures from traditional schools.

So after reading the above statement I’m likely to believe that if I don’t a purchase curriculum before I start homeschooling, my child will be truant. What exactly will my child be truant from? I’ve withdrawn him from school so he can’t be truant from a school he is no longer attending. According the Texas Home School Coalition:

THSC Home Schooling FAQ’s:

Home schools in Texas are private schools, and the state of Texas does not regulate the number of days per year that private schools must be in session or the number of days a student must attend.

Therefore, my private homeschool could simply be not in session until I purchase a curriculum. And then there’s the “purchased” curriculum part. As far as I know there is no requirement to “purchase” a curriculum. Again, from the Texas Home School Coalition:

THSC Home Schooling FAQ’s:

3. What is the required curriculum? In order to be a legitimate home school, you must have a curriculum which teaches reading, spelling, grammar, mathematics and a study of good citizenship, and you must pursue that curriculum in a bona fide (not a sham) manner. This curriculum may be obtained from any source and can consist of books, workbooks, other written materials, or materials on an electronic monitor including computer or video screens, or any combination thereof.

Rather than spend hundreds of dollars on a curriculum, it seems to me that any homeschooler starting out could simply use the curriculum designed by the state and available online, the Texas Essential Knowledge and Skills (TEKS). As far as I can tell, these standards can be met in a variety of ways. A visit to such websites as the Institute of Texan Cultures or the San Antonio Water System will show numerous programs and activities designed to meet specific TEKS standards.

Unfortunately, since FEAST is often referred to as the regional homeschool organization, many people other than homeschoolers can get the wrong idea. Who are we to complain if school officials demand to see a parent’s curriculum if it appears as a “requirement” on a prominent homeschool website?

23 Comments »

  1. Are there more than this one Texas homeschooling website/support group? What do the others say?

    I was under the impression that homeschoolers in Texas could literally do NOTHING. That they didn’t even need to file as a private school. Is this not true?

    Comment by Tammy — December 3, 2006 @ 6:41 pm

  2. Your impression is pretty much right on. We operate under the following education code:

    Section 25.086. EXEMPTIONS.
    (a) A child is exempt from the requirements of compulsory school attendance if the child:
    (1) attends a private or parochial school that includes in its course a study of good citizenship;

    In a public letter from the TEA commissioner, she states that

    “In the case of Leeper et al. v. Arlington ISD et al., the Supreme Court of Texas affirmed a decision by District Judge Charles J. Murray holding that a school age child residing in Texas who is pursuing, under direct supervision of his/her parents, a curriculum designed to meet basic education goals is attending a private school within the meaning of Section 25.086(a)(1) of the Texas Education Code and is therefore exempt from compulsory school attendance.”

    Many Texas homeschool organizations like quoting from the Leeper decision the following about what constitutes a “legitimate” homeschool:

    In order to be a legitimate home school, you must have a curriculum which teaches reading, spelling, grammar, mathematics and a study of good citizenship, and you must pursue that curriculum in a bona fide (not a sham) manner. This curriculum may be obtained from any source and can consist of books, workbooks, other written materials, or materials on an electronic monitor including computer or video screens, or any combination thereof. (From the Texas Home School Coalition.)

    My personal view is that some of these organizations would really like to be able to leave unschoolers out of the equation but that’s just my impression.

    Anyway, as long as we do something about good citizenship, we’re set. In fact, no provisions have been made for the state to check up on us since we are private schools and Texas doesn’t regulate private schools. That’s why the FEAST statement is so disturbing. It makes it sound like you better have a curriculum or else. And while there are many other groups in the San Antonio area, FEAST is often the first stop for anyone interested in homeschooling in this part of Texas. It’s even listed as the “regional” support group by our unofficial state organization, THSC (which doesn’t represent all Texas homeschoolers but likes to think it does.) FEAST is the only organization with physical facilities that you can walk into unannounced on a daily basis to find out about homeschooling. It have been running the local homeschool bookfair for 17 years. So even if there are other resources, many see FEAST as being the “authority” on this issue in the area.

    Comment by texased — December 4, 2006 @ 10:22 am

    • I tried leaving messages on serveral occasions and they have never once returned my calls

      Comment by Mary Ann Boyd — February 15, 2010 @ 2:53 pm

  3. Has anyone contacted FEAST about the statement? Has anyone contacted THSC about contacting FEAST about the statement?

    Comment by Jill Manty — December 7, 2006 @ 1:07 pm

    • I do believe they are more interested in making a sale than helping a family

      Comment by Mary Ann Boyd — February 15, 2010 @ 2:52 pm

  4. I’ll agree with their recommendations in sentence one and in sentence four. Sentence two is totally beside the point and sentence three is erroneous for the reasons you rightfully point out.

    Bizarre that they would say such a thing! Unless they have a vested interest in promoting purchased curriculums?

    Comment by Karen — December 7, 2006 @ 1:48 pm

  5. I suggest checking out Home Education Resources and Opportunities (H.E.R.O.) H.E.R.O. is a non-profit organization (501(c)(3)) committed to providing access to opportunities and resources for home educators of all races, religions, philosophies, and education styles for expanding and improving their home education experience. H.E.R.O. is dedicated to fostering a supportive atmosphere for home educators by raising the awareness of education choices.
    HERO is based in San Antonio, but the information provided can be used across the state.

    Comment by Sanantonlinda — February 5, 2007 @ 1:25 pm

  6. The TEKS, is not a curriculum, but a list of areas they think a child in each grade should cover. It doesn’t tell you HOW to teach your child or provide any direction for teaching your child other than a checklist of “they should know this”. Being private schools, we have no requirement to follow this outline either.

    Yes, a resourceful mom could use these lists to develop their own curriculum but most new homeschooling families aren’t experienced teachers and those lists would completely overwhelm them to even look at them! Those who work at FEAST know this, and generally recommend various curriculum options to new homeschoolers to get started with. Most new homeschooling moms are not confident enough to “go it alone” and need the guidance of a laid out curriculum of some sort to get them started.

    It is odd that FEAST worded that paragraph the way they did. I can assure you that they know the state laws and they don’t advise people in that manner. I am sure it was just an oversight in the proofreading of how it was worded.

    My recommendation to new (and “old”) homeschoolers is to check with THSC about manners concerning the law as they have the most up to date information and are constantly working to make sure our rights as homeschoolers are preserved.

    I would hope that you have contacted FEAST about the “error” you found on their site instead of just complaining about it here.

    Thank you for keeping a watch on what is going on!

    Comment by Wendy — February 5, 2007 @ 6:02 pm

  7. Those who work at FEAST know this, and generally recommend various curriculum options to new homeschoolers to get started with. Most new homeschooling moms are not confident enough to “go it alone” and need the guidance of a laid out curriculum of some sort to get them started.

    Not if they are homeschooling for non-religious reasons. If that is the case the bookstore employees drop you midsentence and show you their back. So, I am glad they were helpful to you but you must understand they aren’t to everyone.

    Comment by Another San Antonio Homeschooler — February 5, 2007 @ 6:41 pm

  8. public education is going to SHIT fast!

    No joke

    Comment by Jack — February 18, 2008 @ 10:38 am

  9. I have homeschooled my children for many years and have helped other homeschool families get started. When I got started I had no money to purchase curriculum books. I learned how to homeschool for almost nothing. I now help others who are not financially able to purchase books.
    One day I was at FEAST and someone approached me asking if I knew of a certain website.. I had in on my computer but wasn’t sure of the exact name so we exchanged emails.. I also was on the phone with a family I was helping to start homeschooling.. Two of the workers at FEAST approached me, they were a little upset that I was giving out info.. they overheard my phone conversation and misunderstood, thinking I was telling the couple in the stor not to purchase curriculum.. I felt as if they were about to throw me out of the store, and I had been recomending their store for years, and making my purchases there for years. They were rude and embarrased me in front of other costomers.. I no longer recomend them and now purchse what I need onlline

    Comment by Mary Ann Boyd — February 15, 2010 @ 2:48 pm

  10. Is there a check or validation for any of the curriculum or legitimacy of the curriculum? And if not, what about higher education (college/universities) do they simply have to believe the homeschooler has put forth the effort and done work?

    As I understand it, it seems a student who says they are homeschooled can literally sit on the couch all day, watch netflix and recieve all curriculum credits by doing just that.

    Please tell me the homeschooling system in Texas is not so easily shamed.

    Comment by Obecheki — April 4, 2010 @ 11:15 am

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