Thursday, August 14, 2008

Homeschooling Problem in Nova Scotia

Okay. I'm really pissed off right now. A homeschooler is getting harrassed by our provincial department of education for more information regarding her plans for the school year. Twice they've rejected her registration demanding more information.

Funny thing. I can't find the bit in the act that allows the people who look over our registration forms to start dictating the information we submit.
Provision of home education

128 (1) A parent may provide a home education program to a child of the parent centered in the child's home.

(2) A parent providing a home education program to a child shall

(a) register the child for each school academic year with the Minister; and

(b) report the child's progress to the Minister,

as prescribed by the regulations.

(3) With the approval of the school board, a child in a home education program may attend courses offered by a school board, subject to any terms and conditions prescribed by the school board.

(4) The Minister may require the parent of a child in a home education program to provide evidence of the child's educational progress by providing one or more of the following as the parent determines:

(a) results of a standardized test;

(b) an assessment from a qualified assessor;

(c) a portfolio of the child's work,

as prescribed by the regulations.

(5) Notwithstanding subsection (4), where, in the Minister's opinion, further evidence of a child's educational progress is required, the Minister may appoint an independent assessor, as prescribed by the regulations, to assess and report to the Minister whether

(a) the child is making reasonable educational progress;

(b) the home education program is adequately addressing the child's needs; and

(c) the available public school program will do more to further the child's educational progress than the home education program.

(6) A parent may request that a child in a home education program be assessed through an assessment instrument authorized by the Minister in order to determine the child's educational progress, in accordance with the regulations.

(7) When, following participation in a home education program, a child enrolls in a public school, the school board shall determine the child's grade placement. 1995-96, c. 1, s. 128.
Termination of right to provide home education

129 (1) A parent may not provide or continue to provide a home education program to a child if, based on the evidence provided pursuant to subsection 128(4) and the report made pursuant to subsection 128(5), the Minister determines that

(a) the home education program does not meet the requirements of this Act and the regulations; or

(b) the child is not making reasonable educational progress as determined by the child's performance as measured pursuant to subsection 128(4).

(2) Before making a determination pursuant to subsection (1), the Minister shall

(a) notify the parent, in writing, by registered mail of the Minister's intent to make the determination; and

(b) give the parent an opportunity to make representation to the Minister in writing as to why the home education program should be provided or continued. 1995-96, c. 1, s. 129 .

Our only guidence on what to submit is on the one-page registration form. We can check one of three options:

Is the program used:
(a) commercially available? __________ If yes, please fill in title, level and publisher.
Title ____________________________________________________________ Level ________
Publisher _____________________________________________________________________
(b) Nova Scotia Correspondence Courses (available for grades 7-12)? Yes ________ No________
If yes, please list course(s) and grade(s). (Listings of courses and prices on Website.)
Course(s) ___________________________________________________________________________
(c) developed by you? __________ If yes, please provide (as an attachment) a description of the program
for each subject area.

Nowhere does it say detailed timeline or a breakdown of lesson plans. In fact, many of us have submitted programs for many years that were nothing more then a paragraph of, "He's following his interests," in educationese or a list of curriculum we're using (ex: Math - Singapore Math 5A, Life of Fred Fractions, Brain Maths, Volume 1).

Please tell me if I'm wrong but their recourse is to act if they think something may be wrong and then they have specific recourses, none of which is to demand specifics in our registration submissions.

This gets me because if it's allowed to stand then we're subject to the whims of whoever happens to review our registrations and they won't be accountable to us about what they're using to judge our submissions.

That ain't gonna happen.


molytail said...

wow, you guys have a lot more 'stuff' in your act than we can see ours here's a PDF..relevant section just states this:

B. Home Education

139. (1) A parent who intends to provide a home education program for
his or her child shall, before the commencement of the school year,
provide the Minister with

(a) a notice of the parent’s intention to provide a home education
program; and

(b) a copy of the proposed home education program.

(2) The Department may provide to the parent advice and comments
on the home education program.

(3) A student attending a home education program may attend courses
offered by a school board as permitted by the regulations.1993, c.35,
s.139; 2003,c.43,s.12.


That's it. They offer a form to use, a chart sort of deal, where you can write in your "proposed plan", but I didn't use it...the act doesn't say anything about " a parent shall use the designated form" yada yada... I sent a very short summary, didn't specify material names or anything, just a general outline. Heck, i'm not even sure by our regs if I have to notify again this year -- it says "before the start of the school year" ...not "each school year" ...dunno. Tried asking some other hs'ers here and got vague answers, as a lot of them never notified in the start at all, so they don't each year either.

I wouldn't give them any more than the absolute minimum required by doesn't say that they need a detailed breakdown...I see a bit about if the minister isn't satisfied blah blah...well, if the minister isn't satisfied, then he/she needs to follow the act and go through the proper procedures - which seem to be asking for an assessment or such...

How'd they come to be hassled? Have they always hs'ed, or is it a new notification?

Dawn said...

My suspicion is that it might be related to the fact that there's a new guy in charge. I've heard a few hints that they want to make sure people really are homeschooling but if that's the case their recourse is clearly spelled out in the act.

I think the family in question has always homeschooled. Which makes it more puzzling.

I have to say I've envied your provinces regs. I did hear a news report a couple of years back that stated you only have to register once...

molytail said...

if that's the case their recourse is clearly spelled out in the act

Exactly. If the new guy has a problem with this family, then he should follow the procedures - not try to enforce something that is not written as being required.

The other weird thing here is that the website from where that pdf comes says that parents must have a teacher advisor in place -- now, i was told by school board rep that it USED to be that you had to have that and meet with them a few times, but that now there is no meeting, nothing. She went so far as to say that it was basically a name only now. I did have that last year (Cindy's grade 5 teacher from ps said to go ahead and put her name down), but there is NOTHING in the act that says anything at all about it. Nada.

I'm gonna do a bit more poking about the notification thing...

Oh ha, did I ever tell you that the elementary school guidance counselor guy showed up on my front step last year, first day of ps, to see if he could talk us out of hs'ing? Yep.

Dawn said...

Sheesh. I keep thinking that school is more sacred then church these days...And there you go. A guidence counsellor imitating a Jehovah's Witness missionary!

molytail said...


Yeah I'm not sure what he expected... "Oh my, sorry about that! I'll go get her ready and send her right out to your truck there bud." ?? :-P

He pestered Blair at work via phone the next day, asking him if he "knew what {we} were doing" ....must be a lot of rogue moms out there, secretly homeschooling their kids in the attic, dads unaware.

Andrea R said...

Yeah, similar things have happened here in NB. Funny, always when a new person shows up in charge...

The law here is a one-liner that says the Minister is satisfied that sufficient instruction is provided elsewhere. doesn't even say on a yearly basis.

At first, we had a 4-page form to fill out until more of us started talking and realized that since it also involved a disclaimer, we shouldn't have to fill out our plans - especially if things are worded to prove what the child *already knows*, not what we will be teaching them. I sent them a lovely nasty letter the last year we filled out the forms. we don't any more.

Then they tied in some larger districts to get portfolios submitted. some fell for it when they were told it was now "policy" but policy is not law, and when people found out only a couple districts were trying to pull a fast one. well... I'm sure you can guess what happened. :D

christinemm said...

I don't see anything in those guidelines to warrant what is happening with that homeschooling family either.

This is a control issue.

The government has options to request testing and assessments down the line so they could and should do that if they are worried.

kitten said...

THe last 3 years here they have have sent out home school letters to everybody in our area in June. When Public school started I realized I haven't got one, so I call. She told me that the reason they sent the letters out was for their convenience, but it was our responibility, so they were waiting to see how many would get in touch with her and see if we request the letter. She even had the nerve to tell me that she felt she would see many mom's in court because they didn't register.
They also were trying to pass new laws but many of us mom's emailed our legislators in Jackson (our capital) and got it stopped for now. But I wonfer how long that will work.
I don't think it's fair!
I don't blame you for being pissed!

Anonymous said...

The NB form is a four pager again this year, I was just looking at it last night. It has a list of what you should be teaching for "effective instruction elsewhere" and a "thank you for your cooperation" at the end of it.

Anonymous said...

Oops, sorry. That's a 2007-2008 NB form I was looking at. They don't have any 2008-2009 stuff there.