We started our homeschool journey in Michigan – a pretty excellent place to homeschool. There were a few completely reasonable rules, but no registration, no check in, and no hassles. Parents in Michigan are assumed to be competent and to have the best interests of their children at heart. The laws are written so that, in cases where this is not true, there are protections for the children, as it should be.
A couple of years ago, we moved to Victoria, where homeschooling parents were also respected and trusted to be competent and to have the best interests of their children at heart.
We were required to register, and again, there are rules about what we must cover, but it all seemed quite reasonable.
Then, last month, as the Christmas and summer holidays were beginning, the board of education released a sneaky new set of proposals. Sneaky because they were quietly posted online with no fanfare, no notification to registered homeschooling families, and timed for when everyone could be assumed to be distracted.
Also sneaky in that they are written in such a broad, vague way that it’s hard to get your mind around what, exactly, they are proposing to require. Only around the third read, and a good think about the impact statement, did things start to jump out at me. (Be aware that the link automatically downloads the file onto your computer. I couldn’t find a less intrusive link.)
Worse, most of the “rules” are in the impact statement, rather than the regulations, meaning that they can be “tweaked” (rewritten) without any notification or consultation.
I am, of course, hard at work on a letter to the responsible parties and their bosses.
I don’t expect to be too badly effected by the new rules in the short term. I am an experienced homeschooler, registered for the third year, a reasonably organized person with a fairly coherent plan. My unschooling friends and new homeschoolers have more to be concerned about in the short term, because the rules are completely antithetical to natural learning and there will be a steeper learning curve for them.
In the long term, however, this could be very bad news for all Victorian homeschoolers – and we may find ourselves looking at New South Wales and their comprehensive oversight as a relatively easy place to homeschool.
These proposals stink of deception and power grabs. Lets hope the authors simply didn’t stop to think things through, and that the well-being of the children is, as they say it is, the primary impulse here.