Model UN is Thursday, February 13, to Sunday, February 16, in Washington D.C. at NAIMUN LVII.
As the Chair of the West Virginia Home Educators Association, I’m responding to comments made by Dr. Steven Paine, the state superintendent of schools, to members of the WV State Board of Education (WVBOE) on Thursday.
His remarks targeted homeschooling as one reason for the sharp decline in enrollment and indicated many families are “bailing out because we’re putting a lot of pressure on them to go to school and behave”. He claimed more accountability is needed for those who choose to educate their children in the privacy of their own home.
In October, we learned that for the fourth consecutive year more than half of all WV public school teachers missed more than 10 days out of their 200-day contract. These are the WV Department of Education (WVDE) numbers and they show far more disturbing trends. Around 11% of teachers missed more than 20 days of work! A staggering 25% of teachers in McDowell and Brooke Counties were absent greater than 10% of their work days. If a child missing 11 instructional days suffers disruption, imagine the negative impact an entire class full of children without the regular teacher who is being paid to teach them suffer over and over again for 10, 15, even 20 days or more!
This isn’t the only bad news regarding public school teachers in the Mountain State. Year after year we have teachers abusing youngsters emotionally, physically and even sexually. From preschool to high school, from Berkeley County to Wyoming County students in WV public schools have experienced assault, intimidation, humiliation and rape at the hands of the very people to which parents entrust their precious children.. These acts are hardly caused by homeschool families.
Accountability is in desperate need. I urge Dr. Paine and the WVBOE to begin holding teachers and other staff accountable. Stop passing the trash. Do your jobs! Protect the children not criminals! Focus on fixing the public school house instead of worrying about homeschooling. Make WV public schools a place to which families flock rather than flee.
Stephanie E. Butcher
Chair, West Virginia Home Educators Association
What happens when two hundred high school sophomores stay at WVU for a weekend? A leadership seminar. Hugh O’Brian Youth is a seminar for sophomores in high school focused on leading yourself, your community, and your world. HOBY, as it is called, has been around since 1958, and has seventy seminars across the country every year. I attended the seminar in Morgantown this year. Somehow managing to balance work and fun, HOBY was educational and enjoyable most of the time.
The seminar’s main point was leadership, and the organizers definitely drove that home, but there was fun involved too. Most of the speakers were more than qualified to lecture a room of teenagers about how they could influence their world. During the HOBY seminar, we don’t just talk about leadership. Every seminar has a mandatory service project where teens can put into practice the skills they have learned. My group went to a youth camp and helped them set up beds and cubbies for the summer season. While dragging iron bedframes up mountains, you meet many kinds of people from all across the state. After attending HOBY, I firmly believe that bluegrass pickers can be found everywhere. Bluegrass has become a passion of mine, and I was extremely pleased to find at least two people who could play really well at the seminar. However, the main point was always leadership.
Although HOBY was an educational and interesting experience, it was not all fun and games. My introduction to HOBY was a crowd of staff screaming “HOBY HUGS!”. I said “HOBY what!?”. Apparently it is a tradition to welcome the ambassadors by swarming them with hugs. Not my cup of tea. Another thing that I found unnecessary was PMA—Positive Mental Attitude. During PMA, we would use every chant from every summer camp ever invented—Little Red Wagon, Pizza Man, and dozens of others. It seems to me that we should be doing something other than chanting during a leadership seminar. Although the application specifically states that HOBY is not politically motivated, most of the speakers had the same political beliefs, and were very vocal about them. The organizers did not do a very good job of bringing in speakers from both sides of an argument. HOBY is good at teaching leadership, but there are still places to improve.
Overall, HOBY was a great experience. It does an excellent job of teaching leadership, while still staying mostly fun. Most importantly, it is the only place where many of these teens really get to study leadership. This allows them to go back to their communities and make a difference. HOBY teens return home ready to work, yet prepared for adversity.
Each spring, select area sophomores convene at one of the 70 State Leadership Seminars across the country to recognize their leadership talents and apply them to becoming effective and ethical leaders. Student participants (known as HOBY Ambassadors) take part in hands-on activities, meet leaders in their state, and explore their own personal leadership skills while learning how to lead others and make a positive impact in their community.
At the end of their seminars, HOBY Ambassadors are challenged to give back by serving at least 100 volunteer hours in their communities. Students who complete the Leadership for Service (L4S) Challenge within 12 months of their seminar are eligible for the HOBY L4S Challenge Award and the President’s Volunteer Service Award. Alumni who log 4,000 hours of service receive the President’s Call to Service Award from HOBY. To date, HOBY Ambassadors have performed over 3 million hours of volunteer service in their communities.
Following a motivational meeting with Dr. Albert Schweitzer during a trip to Africa in 1958, Actor Hugh O’Brian was inspired to establish Hugh O’Brian Youth Leadership. “One of the things Dr. Schweitzer said to me was that the most important thing in education was to teach young people to think for themselves,” O’Brian said. “From that inspiration, and with the support of others who believe in youth and the American dream, I started HOBY to seek out, recognize, and develop outstanding leadership potential among our nation’s youth.”
Homeschoolers Ben Wade of Triadelphia and Emma Meadows of Alkol have been selected to attend the Hugh O’Brian Youth Leadership Seminar held at West Virginia University in Morgantown, WV. Wade and Meadows will be joined by many other young high school leaders from the region.
For further information about HOBY programs and sponsorship opportunities contact your state Chapter’s Co-Directors of Recruitment at Amber Kelley, firstname.lastname@example.org or Katie Padden, email@example.com
For 60 years, Hugh O’Brian Youth Leadership (HOBY) has helped to cultivate leaders by inspiring a global community of youth and volunteers to a life dedicated to leadership, service, and innovation. HOBY programs annually provide more than 10,000 local and international high school students the opportunity to participate in unique leadership training, service learning and motivation-building experiences. HOBY also provides adults the opportunity to make a significant impact on the lives of youth by volunteering, and today more than 4,000 volunteers annually and over 500,000 alumni proudly make up the HOBY family. For further information on HOBY, visit www.hoby.org. “Like” Hugh O’Brian Youth Leadership on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/HOBY and follow the organization on Twitter via @HOBY
“Begun in 1990 with fewer than 10 families, Ohio Valley Christian Home Educators (OVCHE) has matured into an active, non-denominational support group serving around 100 families in the Tri-State area near Wheeling, WV.
Our mission is to support and encourage families who are striving to educate their children in a manner pleasing to our Savior Jesus Christ. OVCHE is a volunteer-led, Board of Directors governed support group providing resources for educational activities, encouragement, fellowship, and information to homeschool families and to those considering homeschooling in the Ohio Valley.
Although we are faith based, we are inclusive, allowing families to join who choose not to sign our Statement of Faith. Instead, they may choose the option agreeing not to undermine the sincerely held beliefs of our members and abide by our code of conduct.
By joining OVCHE for $30 per year, privileges include:
• Field trips
• TerraNova Group testing
• Weekly co-op (fee-based; pre-school-12th grade)
• Sport-of-the month
• Members-only portions of the group’s website: ovche.org
• All e-mail/text communications, including announcements of interest to OVCHE members and homeschoolers in general
• Private members-only Facebook group
• Mom’s Night Out (MNO)
We warmly welcome new members. To find out more, please visit ovche.org.
OVCHE Vice President”
-by Ashley Neider
Academics – Homeschoolers generally do well academically. In fact, children who received structured homeschooling had superior test results compared to their peers, anywhere from a half-grade advantage in math to 2.2 grade levels in reading.
Socialization – Homeschoolers tend to walk their own path. Otherwise, they wouldn’t be homeschooling! But, homeschoolers have many opportunities to be social—in fact, many experienced homeschoolers are so busy with activities outside the home that they work to find time to do academics! More research is available here and here.
Special Education – One of the strengths of homeschooling is the ability to tailor the education to meet the needs of the individual student. One size does not fit all—especially for children with special needs. Homeschooling parents have access to a wide range of resources to help their children.
Sports – Homeschoolers in WV cannot play WVSSAC sports. But, depending on your area, your student can participate in local, private leagues and teams.
College – Some of the best colleges in the world love homeschoolers, and accept them at higher rates than the most applicants. WV parents issue their child’s diplomas and transcripts, legally equivalent to public school diplomas.
–by Courtney Ostaff
While ultimately HB 3127, the Tim Tebow bill, did not pass during the 2019 legislative session, statements made during the debate have created significant confusion among West Virginia homeschoolers—after all, if a lawmaker made a statement on the floor of the Legislature, it must be true, right?
In an effort to clear up confusion in the homeschool community, here are some clarifications:
- West Virginia homeschool requirements are set by the state, not the county. Therefore, every county has the same homeschool requirements. Parents need to know the requirements so they may defend themselves against overzealous administrators who regularly provide forms or other documents that request more than is legally required. See WV Code §18-8-1(c) for more details.
- By law, every homeschool student must be assessed every year, and the results retained for three years. Homeschooling parents have used these end-of-year assessments to guard against charges of educational neglect, to place their students in courses, and to assist them with college entrance. See WV Code §18-8-1(c)(2)(C) for more details.
- Parents have the choice of four assessment methods. Due to issues that homeschoolers have had with methods 2 and 4, WVHEA recommends standardized testing or a portfolio review. See WV Code §18-8-1(c)(2)(C) for more details.
- standardized testing,
- public school testing,
- portfolio review, or
- a mutually agreed-upon alternative assessment.
- Every homeschool student who complies with WV Code §18-8-1(c) meets school attendance requirements, as per WV state law. According to the WVSSAC handbook 127-2-6.3, students participating in WVSSAC-regulated activities are not all required to attend full day class periods, so homeschooled students aren’t requesting any changes in attendance expectations.
- Every homeschooled student is required to obtain un-graded records of satisfactory progress as per WV Code §18-8-1(c), just like students participating in WVSSAC-regulated activities may participate based on un-graded records of satisfactory progress as per WVSSAC handbook 126-26-3.h
WV Code §18-8-1a covers when students are required to start school and how you get in. Beginning in the school year 2019-2020, parents don’t have to file a Notification of Intent (NOI) until the child is six by July 1, or if they’ve enrolled in a publicly supported kindergarten program. Easy, right? Then why do school systems call Child Protective Services?
Most parents want to start their child in kindergarten at age 5.
WV Code says: “beginning in the school year 2019-2020, compulsory school attendance begins with the school year in which the sixth birthday is reached prior to July 1 of such year or upon enrolling in a publicly supported kindergarten program.”
The child isn’t legally required to attend school yet, and so no NOI is legally required. However, the law continues on to say:
(b) Attendance at a state-approved or Montessori kindergarten, as provided in section eighteen, article five of this chapter, is deemed school attendance for purposes of this section. Prior to entrance into the first grade in accordance with section five, article two of this chapter, each child must have either:
(1) Successfully completed such publicly or privately supported, state-approved kindergarten program or Montessori kindergarten program; or
(2) Successfully completed an entrance test of basic readiness skills approved by the county in which the school is located. The test may be administered in lieu of kindergarten attendance only under extraordinary circumstances to be determined by the county board.
If parents have done kindergarten at home and haven’t filed an NOI, from the BOE’s point of view the child hasn’t yet been in school and the kindergarten law would apply. Therefore, if parents try to enroll their child in first grade in a public school, they will either deny entrance to first grade, or test the child into first grade.
As a result, if parents are homeschooling kindergarten and there is a possibility that their child may attend first grade in the public school system, parents should try to make sure the child is prepared to pass a first grade level reading and math test.
This is good advice even though the law does not require that homeschoolers use the public school standards for reading, language, mathematics, science and social studies.
If the parent doesn’t mind a younger child doing kindergarten twice, once at home and once at school, this is not an issue.
Because the law doesn’t explicitly mention homeschooling as an acceptable substitute for kindergarten, filing an NOI and obtaining an end-of-year assessment is not a guarantee that homeschooling will be accepted for entrance into first grade, but it certainly increases the odds.
Note that the law only applies to children entering the first grade – a second grader would probably not be sent back to kindergarten.
- parents try to enroll their child in first grade without an NOI or an end-of-year assessment, and
- the school system tests the child and believes that the child should be placed in kindergarten on the results of the test, but
- parents file an NOI for homeschooling first grade instead of taking the kindergarten placement,
- then a school system may file charges of educational neglect with the Department of Health and Human Resources.
At this point, parents should hire an attorney, assuming they’re not already a member of a homeschool legal defense association.