Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Open Letter from Debbie LaRoy

An Open Letter to Gayleen Davis, President of BC Home Learners’ Association, Rebecca McClure of Victoria Home Learners, and Melissa Hodges of Greater Vancouver Home Learners:

November 16, 2010 6 PM

Greetings to you all,

Yesterday a home educating friend forwarded on to me an e-mail that went out to “rally the troops” to garner attendance at tonight’s pivotal AGM meeting of BCHLA. I took the time it necessitated for me to read through what was being discussed, to go to the various links provided, and visit your respective websites. Very impressive, indeed! I have read the most recent postings that have appeared on the “Politics of Home Schooling” theme, including today’s. Although out of the home educating/home learning loop for a number of years now, I have good friends who continue to keep me informed to some degree.

My name is Debby LaRoy. I home educated my children years ago. In fact, along with other parents throughout BC, I had the privilege of presenting a brief to Barry Sullivan when the Royal Commission on Education toured BC in 1988 as the Education Act was up for re-write. My dear friend, Vicki Livingstone, with tremendous foresight, incorporated the Canadian Home Educators’ Association, forerunner of BCHLA, as you know. The society status came through one week before she presented her brief to that Sullivan Commission on behalf of the now-legal, albeit fledgling, CHEA.

A court case immediately transpiring lent an urgency to the home learning community to band together under the auspices of CHEA to provide a more credible, united voice supportive of all home educators in BC, particularly; but the influence was felt across Canada. Wendy Priesnitz had begun her “unschooling” movement in Ontario by this point in time, but many in Ontario were connecting with CHEA for advice in home education. So were home educators in Alberta and Saskatchewan.

In fact, when our family and another home educating family both moved to the Yukon shortly after the Sullivan Commission submitted its report in BC, we were instrumental in replicating CHEA in the Yukon. The need? The Yukon Education Act was being re-written, just as the Acts in BC, Alberta, and Saskatchewan simultaneously had been.

Interestingly, HSLDA had been invited by some home schoolers to become involved in both Alberta and Saskatchewan; each province ended up with very oppressive laws regarding home education, with Alberta having 10 pages of regulations governing the Act and Saskatchewan having 17 pages of regulations governing its Act. Truly, it was known abroad that BC had managed to get the best laws in North America governing home education, stated the most briefly and with the least amount of government oversight, leaving the responsibility with the home educating parents to follow their individual value-system and program in providing an education for their own children.

In the Yukon, we wanted to get the same excellent laws for home educators that BC just had instituted; we were successful. The Yukon Home Educators’ Society (YHES) became the united front liaising on behalf of home educators with the territorial government. A real respect for the home education option was born, and many families selected it. However, new statutes were re-written in 2002 in the Yukon Education Act which are no longer as non-invasive as what initially was put in place. The same could happen in BC.

My purpose behind this e-mail is simply to give encouragement to each of you, and to commend you each for the jobs being done in your home educating/home learning communities and your individual spheres of influence. What I have read on the various websites has been expressed in a very articulate and caring tone, with hearts desirous of providing factual and effective help to the diverse group of home learners within our province. Volunteering your time sacrificially is one thing, but performing your duties with such consideration for others and in spite of the challenges goes above and beyond.

As we all know, one of the inherent drawbacks that comes with the territory of being a home educating parent is that there is no one standing in the wings continuously thanking us for the job we’re doing. Last night, November 15th, Mark Kelley on his CBC “Connect” program announced the 10 runners-up for the Canadian “Champion of Change” contest. Any one of you could likely have qualified, because of your unselfish service to others and upholding of a differing education paradigm.

Today I wish to thank you personally for continuing to hold high the torch of home schooling freedoms that was passed to you by those who’ve gone before. Not everyone will see clearly the principles at stake; consequently, some will run interference, perhaps unintentionally, with those who discern these principles. Do not get discouraged. The very freedom to be different that we value so much as home learners in the 21st century is worth the effort and the challenge to help others perceive the value in uniting under one hat—solely, the hat of home education—so that, although differing in belief systems, socio-economic background, and styles and methods of home educating, we present a united front to the schooling public and the government, putting the best face on the home education option that is free for any to exercise.

You are united in your strong belief in the necessity for keeping BCHLA strong. This crisis has come at a good time; crisis is good when it moves to action, and that is exactly what has come about. When we become complacent and take for granted the freedoms we have is the very time that we often lose them. Although it appears like nothing immediate is looming that threatens our freedom to home educate, we do not really know what lies ahead; and, you are wise to strengthen what we do not want to lose.

May you each become re-ignited with enthusiasm and energy for meeting your day-to-day challenges as home educating parents and as leaders in the home learner movement. May you have re-caught the vision of why you personally elected to home educate and why the principle of “united we stand, divided we fall” is so paramount to uphold. Thank you for serving BC’s home learners; you are appreciated for all that you’ve done and are doing. May the others who unite with you from this point forward know that it is a worthy cause, though sometimes thankless. We hold up the hands of the weakest one in our midst, and that way the chain is strengthened, for, truly we are only as strong as the weakest link in the chain.

Have a great home learning/home educating year!


Debby LaRoy
Past CHEA and YHES President