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Issues and Legislation

This page contains all the posts in the Issues and Legislation section listed by date posted or revised. To find posts on a specific topic, click on the categories to your right.

09/02/2014

WPA Gets DPI to Change Language on Enrollment

Good news! As a result of the serious analysis and careful negotiations that WPA has done over the past several weeks, today the DPI agreed to change the language on its website concerning when enrollment in a homeschool occurs.

It has agreed to remove language that says that a child is officially enrolled in a homeschool when their parent or guardian files form PI-1206. This change is another important action by WPA to maintain our homeschooling freedoms and parental rights.

As we know, enrollment in a homeschool begins when a parent decides to homeschool their child and begins to fulfill the requirements of the Wisconsin homeschooling law. Enrolling is distinct from filing form PI-1206, which means reporting the enrollment in a homeschool as of the third Friday in September, the 19th this year.

Therefore, if public school officials threaten you with truancy if you don't file the form before the third Friday in September, calmly and diplomatically tell them what the law says and that now the DPI has changed what it used to say about enrollment and filing form PI-1206.

Thank you to the courageous homeschoolers who, in recent years, knew their rights and refused to file the form early. One such homeschooling mom had to face police at her door and calmly explain what the law said. (She was a new homeschooler who had read her WPA Newsletter and the WPA handbook.) Without this kind of knowledge and action on behalf of parental rights, we surrender our homeschooling freedoms inch by inch.

For the details of how WPA was able to get the DPI to change its language, see the chain of WPA requests and the DPI's responses below. These details and language should be useful to parents who are working to counter unreasonable demands by their public school district.

Download WPA and DPI Exchange on Homeschool Enrollment

08/28/2014

WPA Key to Wisconsin Court Case That Supports Homeschooling Freedoms and Parental Rights

WPA was contacted by a homeschooling father who had been a member of the Amish community. As a result of a divorce settlement, a Wisconsin Circuit Court Commissioner had ordered that his homeschooled children attend a public school. The father asked WPA for help in appealing this ruling.

Continue reading "WPA Key to Wisconsin Court Case That Supports Homeschooling Freedoms and Parental Rights" »

How Questions about School Enrollment Affect Parental Rights

   The extent to which we maintain our parental rights and responsibilities depends on how we think, act, and react, especially when dealing with public officials, including school officials.

Continue reading "How Questions about School Enrollment Affect Parental Rights" »

How New Homeschoolers Can Deal With Challenges from School Officials

Summary: School officials sometimes challenge parents who remove their children from a public school to begin homeschooling. Here’s how to minimize the chances of this happening to your family and what to do if it does. Note that how you respond depends on when you are beginning homeschooling.

Continue reading "How New Homeschoolers Can Deal With Challenges from School Officials" »

Resolution: Maintain the Distinction Between Homeschooling and Public Virtual Charter Schools

At the annual WPA membership meeting during the WPA conference on May 3, 2014, at the University of Wisconsin Oshkosh, WPA members passed this resolution.

Continue reading "Resolution: Maintain the Distinction Between Homeschooling and Public Virtual Charter Schools" »

04/13/2014

Bridges Virtual Academy Breaks Promises

Summary: WPA’s predictions are coming true: Bridges Virtual Academy (BVA) in Merrill is unable to deliver what it promised to families who enrolled. Instead, in response to the DPI’s letter stating that BVA was not complying with state statutes, BVA has virtually no religiously based curriculum and materials on its list of “BVA Approved Curricular Materials.” It has increased the role played by the certified public school teachers it has hired and given them the final say and is requiring families to use a software system called Project Foundry so that BVA teachers can plan, monitor, track, and grade students’ work.

Continue reading "Bridges Virtual Academy Breaks Promises" »

Homeschoolers and Common Core

Summary

Questions are being raised about whether or when public schools in Wisconsin and other states should adopt Common Core standards proposed by the federal government and begin using the accompanying standardized tests. WPA has opposed public school standards since they were first introduced in the 1980s and continues to oppose them. Homeschoolers have handled the indirect effects that previous public school standards have had on us and should be able to handle the effects of Common Core in ways suggested below. Since this is a public school issue, homeschoolers who want to directly oppose Common Core should respond as concerned citizens, rather than as homeschoolers. Ideas for such responses are given below.

Continue reading "Homeschoolers and Common Core" »

12/09/2013

DPI Letter to Bridges Virtual Academy (dated 9/20/2013)

Note: In June, 2012, Bridges Virtual Academy (BVA), a public virtual charter school in Merrill, Wisconsin, claimed it would provide families with curriculums and lessons (such as music, gymnastics, etc.) as long as they enrolled in a public school, reported to the school periodically, and took state tests. The DPI has stated that BVA is violating Wisconsin law governing virtual charter schools. If BVA is not in compliance by December 2, 2013, the DPI will not pay BVA the state tax dollars it is expecting and would receive if it were in compliance with state statutes, an amount around $5,000,000. WPA continues to warn parents that it is risky to enroll in BVA both because students may not receive credit for work they have done and BVA undermines homeschooling freedoms.

Using the Wisconsin open records statute, WPA obtained a copy of DPI letter (see PDF below) sent to the Merrill School District on the September 20, 2013.

Download DPI Ltr Bridges 9-20-13_Leipart_Hagemeister

11/13/2013

Second Update on Legislation About Sports for Homeschoolers

No action is needed at this time.

Thank you for your emails and calls in response to WPA’s emails on Sept 19 and 26, 2013, concerning proposed legislation to allow homeschoolers to play on public school sports teams. WPA continues to strongly oppose such legislation which would threaten the homeschooling freedoms of all of us.

On September 25th, a WPA representative met with Representative Jeremy Thiesfeldt, the legislator who was seriously considering introducing the legislation. He said that your emails and calls had been effective and co-sponsorship for the bill had dried up. To date, no legislation has been introduced.

WPA will continue to track this issue and keep you informed.

For more information, including the text of WPA’s previous emails, see below.

The WPA Board

09/26/2013

Update on Legislation About Sports for Homeschoolers

Prepare to

• evaluate what you hear from other sources about the proposed sports bill and

• talk with others.

Please read the following. No other action is needed right now.

You may have heard that allowing homeschoolers to play public school sports has not led to increased regulation of all homeschoolers in any of the 30 states that allow it.

WPA’s response: Most other states require more of homeschoolers than Wisconsin, so they did not need to increase regulation. They require standardized testing, review and approval of curriculum, and/or reports to school officials. Wisconsin requires none of these.

In order for Wisconsin homeschoolers to qualify to play sports, most likely either (1) public schools, the WIAA, and the general public would have to agree to accept parents’ word and PI-1206 report forms as enough, or (2) new requirements would have to be instituted for homeschool athletes to meet.

Given the skepticism, criticism, and sometimes animosity with which homeschooling in general is regarded, the strong competition for the few prized spots on public school sports teams, and the emotion that surrounds sports, it seems unlikely that legislators, public schools, the WIAA, and much of the general public would accept option (1).

Option (2) would mean that new state requirements would be placed on the few homeschoolers who want to play public school sports. It’s impossible to say for sure what would happen once these requirements were in place and accepted by athletes. Perhaps the requirements would not be placed on all homeschoolers. Perhaps they would. Just because they were not imposed on all homeschoolers in states that already had stronger state regulation does NOT mean they would not be imposed on all homeschoolers in Wisconsin. One thing is clear. Wisconsin homeschoolers would be one giant step closer to the state regulation that we have fought against for 30 years.

You may have heard that Representative Thiesfeldt, the author of this bill, may amend it to build a “firewall” to protect homeschoolers from what he now recognizes as possible encroachments on homeschooling freedoms that his original bill could lead to. Although his changes have not been finalized, the basic idea seems to be to require agencies that govern public school sports (such as the WIAA) to accept a written statement from a homeschooling parent without any independent oversight or verification and to prohibit the DPI from writing regulations that could override this provision.

In response to Rep. Thiesfeldt’s invitation, a WPA representative met with him on September 25th and explained that such amendments were highly unlikely to be acceptable to the Wisconsin Legislature, and, even if they were, the Representative could not in any way guarantee that these protections would not be removed before the bill became law. In addition, even if the bill passed as he proposed, it could be changed during a future legislative session.

You may hear that WPA’s position is too strong, that WPA is unreasonable in not being willing to risk having homeschoolers play public school sports. However, Wisconsin has one of the best homeschooling laws in the country precisely because homeschoolers working together through WPA have taken such strong stands, beginning in January 1984 when we agreed not to accept any unnecessary state regulation. WPA knows that freedom is not easily won and maintained. It requires sacrifice and taking strong, sometimes unpopular stands. Families gain some helpful things and lose others when they choose to homeschool. WPA will continue to take such strong stands. Will you stand with us or do you want to risk living and homeschooling under unnecessary state regulation?

Thank you,

The WPA Board

P. S. For more information, see the first two emails on this proposed legislation here and here.

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