Saturday, June 18, 2005

The Politics of Homeschooling

Dear Senator Bennett,

I liked visiting your house today. Now that I have been to yours will you please come visit mine?

Sincerely,
Jason

That letter was written by my son when he was 6 years old. We had visited our State Capital in Lansing and he just couldn't understand the difference between the "legislative house" and the "house" one lives in. The double meaning of words is a difficult concept to grasp sometimes. So I just let it go and sent the letter.

A few weeks later, I received a phone call.

"Hello, this is the office of Senator Bennett. And we would like to accept Jason's invitation to visit. What day
would work best?"

Total panic swept over me. I had five children seven and under and my house looked just like what you imagine it would. Our decorating style was early Fisher Price with a slight touch of Duplo as an accent. I contemplated renting my neighbor's house just for appearance sake. After all, we're homeschoolers and I didn't want him to get the wrong impression.

I decided to accept the invitation. If for no other reason then it would force me to completely clean the house!

The evening actually went very well. His was a very gracious man. He marveled at my children's "artistic talents" and sat for a few photos.

As he was getting ready to leave, he said, "It was so refreshing to get Jason's letter. As politicians, we usually only get silence or complaints. I wanted to finally meet a constituent who just wanted to visit for a change."

I always remembered that.


Most states are becoming more homeschool friendly but there are always attempts to limit our freedoms by a very vocal minority. I decided I didn't want the first time my legislator to hear from us was when we wanted to complain about a bill.

Since that visit, we have visited many of our local and state lawmakers. I have found most to be just as friendly and approachable. This has helped in the few times when issues do come up. They seem more willing to take our call and listen to our opinion because a relationship has been established.

The right to homeschool was a long and hard fought battle in MI as I am sure it was in many states. (
And some are still fighting.) We have benefitted greatly from a few families who were willing to challenge the status quo years ago and achieve the right to homeschool for the rest of us. I don't want to become complacent and think that this will always be the case. Keeping informed of the laws and those who make them is a responsiblity we all share.

So today, we are walking in a local parade with
our current State Senator. (The other was term limited out). It is alot of fun and it keeps the relationships going. I have even been trying to get them to start a blog just as a few other politicians have. So far I haven't been able to convince them. But we'll see what happens after a 3 mile walk in the sun.

And I know they've been to my blog.... I think it's about time I get a chance to visit theirs!

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