Thursday, April 27, 2006

HSLDA Membership

In response to my Parental Rights post and a small discussion in the comment box, Piano Steve asked
People had recommended to us that we join the HSLDA as we embark on our homsechooling journey, so is there something I should know about them to make that decision more intelligently?
So I thought I'd open this discussion up for all to share why they are or are not members of HSLDA.

This is not an opportunity to launch an emotional attack against HSLDA. But as new parents such as Piano Steve come into homeschooling, they should have accurate information to make intelligent decisions for themselves.

As for us, I posted last year why we are not members. Our concern is that they have a dual purpose. They defend the homeschool family and they are a proactive political group. From their website about who they are,
HSLDA works to defeat or amend harmful bills, but also works proactively, introducing legislation to protect and preserve family freedoms.
If they want to lobby states for different laws then maybe a separate organization should be set up. There are strong differences of opinion among homeschoolers as to what a "good" homeschool law is. (Section ML 380.1561 is still a sore spot with many in MI.) In the mid '90's Many homeschoolers in MI found themselves at odds with the organization they thought would defend them.

In defense of individual homeschool families they have done some outstanding work. As a politcal action group they have their opinions and are right to express them. However, often the two are mixed together. I would rather see two separate organizations. One for the defense of the homeschool families and a second for political action. It seems a lot cleaner. That way I know my membership is being used in the way in which I intended it - to defend homeschool families. I don't want to possibly fight the organization I paid to join.

If they would like to also proactively promote legislation to preserve family freedoms that's fine. I just feel they should do so as a separate organization. That way it won't appear as though they are speaking on behalf of all homeschoolers around the nation.

In my post last June, Headmistress at the Common Room mentioned the use of dues for the creation of Patrick Henry College. She said,
I won't be a member again because I'm not happy with the use of their dues to support Patrick Henry College. I'm not mad at them- it's their right. But it's also my right to spend my money in places I think it does more good. No matter how good Patrick Henry is, grads from there are going to have to overcome the reputation of their college to work outside the conservative Christian sphere, and I'd rather HSLDA used money I give them for homeschooling insurance to defend other homeschoolers. Exclusively.
That has also been an issue with some as well.

But these are just my thoughts and opinions. If others woul like to share their thoughts to help Steve and others make an intelligent decision feel free to jump in.

There are also other organizations out there besides HSLDA. The NHELD is another legal defense group. Henry Cate at Why Homeschool just interviewed Judy Aron. She is the research director for that group. I'm not affiliated with this group. I just present it as another option to consider.

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