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Date:
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12/11/2006 5:13:53 PM
Home School Legal Defense Association
Rhode Island: Time to Change West Warwick Homeschool Policy

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From the HSLDA E-lert Service...
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Rhode Island: Time to Change West Warwick Homeschool Policy

Dear HSLDA members and friends:

Tomorrow, Dec. 12, Superintendent David Raiche intends to recommend
that the West Warwick school committee deny approval for a family to
homeschool. As a matter of conscience, the family is refusing to
state how much daily and weekly time they will spend on each subject,
since state law does not require this.

We need your help to turn around West Warwick's homeschool policy and
remove the unnecessary threat it poses for families.

I plan to be present to help the family prove that it's time for a
change.

ACTION REQUESTED

Please come to the meeting of the school committee Tuesday night at
Deering Middle School on Webster Knight Drive in West Warwick at 6:30
p.m. Your presence will help convince the school committee that it's
time to revise the policy.

Bring your old notices of intent with you. I especially want to see
if the "time on task" requirement has been applied consistently. I
suspect it has not, underscoring a reason the policy should change,
and raising the risk of discriminatory enforcement.

BACKGROUND

Rhode Island state law requires a certain number of days of
instruction. It does not require any particular amount of time on all
subjects. It is impossible to know in advance how much time each of
your children will need on a lesson. Every child is different and
every lesson is different. Classrooms always have the same amount of
time not because that's good for children, but because there is no
alternative in a classroom setting. Homeschooling is different, and
instruction--including how much time is spent--can be highly
individualized.

No other state in the nation requires families to state how much time
they will spend on each subject. Even within Rhode Island, most towns
do not try to micro-manage family education time.

There is no objective standard for determining how much time on each
subject is enough. Public schools spend a pre-determined amount of
time on each subject because you have to have a schedule with 25
children. But this does not apply to individual tutoring, where the
"schedule" can be unpredictable and determined by the student's needs
at the moment.

There is no way to enforce the "time on task" requirement unless
enough school administrators are hired to sit with every family every
day. At some point, the school system must trust parents. It ought to
start with dropping the demand that parents declare in advance how
much time they will spend on each subject.

If parents declare they are going to spend 45 minute a day on math,
but actually take less or more, do they need to go back for approval
each time? If they do, there will be a never-ending stream of
requests for change, which may be approved or not approved. On the
other hand, if they can change the amount of time without approval,
why ask in the first place? It becomes entirely meaningless, and
nothing more than a waste of the valuable time of administrators and
parents.

Thank you for standing with us for freedom in West Warwick.

Scott A. Woodruff
HSLDA staff attorney

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