Home Educator’s Day was held on the 23rd of March, 2016 at the Connecticut State Capitol where families who are homeschooling their children gathered to show and share their experiences and successes, and express their appreciation toward their legislators for their work.
In Connecticut, this was the third time Home Educator’s Day was organized. However, Home Educator’s Days are held all over the country with thousands of families attending workshops, presentations, and meetings.
Home educators with their children and people considering homeschooling had the chance to become better informed about homeschooling, to get current information about political issues, to get to know some of the legislators via short scheduled meetings, and even to take a tour in the Capitol.
Families from TEACH-CT, CHN (Connecticut Homeschool Network), CT-CHEER (Connecticut Cooperative of Home Educators East of the River) and NHELD (National Home Education Legal Defense) came to meet their state representatives, and got engaged in the daily activities.
Vice President of TEACH-CT and the organizer of the event Donna Parson emphasized the importance of the presence of people on Home Educator’s Day. She stated “we want to have a presence…There is a stigma about homeschooling…Some of them [legislators] have an idea what they [homeschoolers] are like but never really met them…if we are here, they can meet them here, and you can talk to them, and see that they are normal…You never know how this will affect them [the legislators].
She also added that many homeschoolers who come and make an appointment with the legislators realize that legislators are also people, and they are interested in their concerns. “Homeschoolers are constituents as well,” said Vice President TEACH CT Donna Parson. State Senator Joe Markley claimed at the beginning of the event that “Hopefully people can see some legislators. They should know that they are approachable. Don’t feel intimidated by anyone.”
Each state has their own laws concerning homeschooling, and home education is legal in Connecticut. Parents have the right to provide instruction to their children, according to Connecticut General Statute 10-184. Parents do not have to file any paperwork if they want to provide home education for their children. However, if their children are enrolled in any public school but the parents decide to take them out of the school, they have to write a letter of withdrawal. In addition, there is no obligation on the part of the parents to make their children complete standardized tests, however, it is their responsibility to provide the necessary education to their children via either teaching them or asking friends, relatives to instruct their children, or hiring tutors.
To express their gratitude, homeschoolers gave out free cookies to the legislators. Vice President TEACH-CT Donna Parson said “we were perceived as the cookie people…now we want to be the homeschoolers cookie people.” She added “We want to make the legislators know who we are.” All in all, the point of the day was to raise awareness of homeschooling and change the stigma that is associated with it, and maintain the homeschoolers freedom.