Home School Court Report
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No. 4

In This Issue

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by Andrea Longbottom
- disclaimer -
Homeschool Lawyers, Homeschool Dads

Part One

They’re your homeschool lawyers—did you know they’re also homeschool dads? In honor of HSLDA’s 25th anniversary, the Court Report asked our nine attorneys some questions about homeschooling in their families.

In this issue of the Court Report, we’re focusing on HSLDA’s three litigation attorneys, who handle brief-writing and oral argument in court to defend our members’ freedom to homeschool. In the September/October 2008 Court Report, we’ll introduce our six contact attorneys.

Come on in and meet the litigation team!

Mike Farris

HSLDA Chairman and General Counsel

Why did you decide to homeschool your children? When our oldest daughter was in a Christian school in 1st grade, my wife, Vickie, heard a Focus on the Family broadcast about homeschooling. The net message was that children get their values from their peers if they are in an institutional school but get their values from their parents when they are homeschooled.

Farris family
Courtesy of the family
Mike and Vickie Farris with the 6 youngest (ages 11-21) of their 10 children. Mike and Vickie have been homeschooling for 25 years.
We were already starting to see the truth of this in our daughter’s attitudes, and we had the audacity to believe that we were better teachers of values than a group of 6-year-olds in her class.

What is your role in your homeschool? It has changed over the years, but I always teach my older children at least one course in high school. I also help with small tasks like spelling tests, and I help with computer research skills. My overall task is to help my wife with any task that she finds difficult or annoying—like ordering anything on the internet.

What is a favorite homeschool memory? When my daughter Jessica, who is now a Patrick Henry College grad, was about 5 or 6 years old, she wrote me a letter that read: “Love, love, love. I love you, Dad!” I commented, “Wow, Jessica, you must really love me.” Her response was, “Love is the only word I can spell.”

Jim Mason

HSLDA Litigation Counsel

Why did you decide to homeschool your children? When I was still single, I met the Garber family, and they were already homeschooling their kids, so that was my introduction to homeschooling. Leah Garber, who now works here at HSLDA, was 8 years old. After my wife and I got married, we were in the same Bible study with the Garbers. They were the only homeschooling family we knew. Largely because of the positive impression of homeschooling made on us by the Garbers, we decided to homeschool.

Mason family
Courtesy of the family
Jim and Debbie Mason with their 7 children (ages 5-21). Jim and Debbie have been homeschooling for 16 years.

What is your role in your homeschool? I help with the selection of the curriculum and with keeping everybody on schedule and on task. I fill in with the teaching from time to time.

What is a favorite homeschool memory? When my wife and I decided to homeschool, the first thing we did was attend a Writing Road to Reading (WRR) seminar because we thought that teaching a child to read (and to love reading) was among the most important things we could do.

Debbie was a professional teacher before we married, and she diligently applied the WRR methods while teaching our oldest child to read—but it didn’t seem to be working. As Lucas got older without being able to read on his own, I began to panic. But my patient wife reassured me that he just wasn’t ready, and she continued to teach him daily.

Then one day, Lucas could read. And the world of books opened up for him, and we couldn’t stop him from reading! When we gave him the Iowa Test of Basic Skills at the end of the year, he was reading several years ahead of his age group.

This miracle of learning under the wise instruction of my patient wife has been repeated in each of my children, and each time it is among my favorite homeschooling memories.

Darren Jones

HSLDA Staff Attorney

Why did you decide to homeschool your children? I believe God has commanded parents to be responsible for the education of their children, and this is the way that He has led my wife and me to implement that responsibility. In addition, I attended public school, Christian school, and homeschool, and homeschooling worked best for me.

Jones family
Courtesy of the family
Darren and Sara Jones with their 3 children (ages 1-6). Darren and Sara have been homeschooling for 3 years.

What is your role in your homeschool? I provide encouragement to the kids when I review their work. I am in charge of religious instruction: Bible reading and Compline prayers before bedtime. Also, my wife and I discuss together what curriculum to use.

What is a favorite homeschool memory? Hearing my children excited about doing science experiments, especially ones involving vinegar and baking soda.