Two homeschooling support organizations exist in Wisconsin:
CHEA - Christian Home Education Association - associated with HSLDA
WPA - Wisconsin Parents Association
Both organizations sponsor a yearly conference, support homeschoolers, and monitor legislation. WPA has Regional Coordinators throughout the state of Wisconsin. The Regional Coordinator for Ozaukee, Washington and Dodge counties is Tomi Fay Forbes, email@example.com.
Please mark your calendar for the next WPA Conference, to be held May 2 & 3, 2014 at UW Oshkosh.
We would not have the homeschooling rights we have in Wisconsin today if it were not for the leadership and grassroots efforts of WPA. We have an excellent homeschooling law in Wisconsin which gives us all the latitude we need to teach each child in the best way for that individual - yet there is a parameter of accountability. It is an ideal situation, thanks to WPA. Every family who homeschools in Wisconsin should join WPA. We will not be able to homeschool in the future as we do today unless we are vigilant about maintaining our rights as homeschoolers.
The present Wisconsin homeschooling law was passed in 1984. Prior to the passage of the bill, a number of homeschooling families were literally harassed by governmental entities. Through the years there have been a number of challenges to the rights of the homeschooler. WPA has taken leadership, and homeschoolers all over the state have stood up in support, to reduce those challenges.
WPA has taken a particularly firm stand on the issue of complete separation between homeschoolers and any governmental agency, including public schools. The rational is quite logical: Whenever a governmental body gets their "toe in the door" of any issue, it will continue to push the door open further and further. It will never back out the door and let it close. For instance, have you ever known a "temporary" tax that was repealed when the "temporary" tax was supposed to end? Has a government entity ever made a law so they gained more control over a situation, then repealed it and relinquished the acquired control? No!
The same principle applies to homeschoolers. There are many in government, the public school systems (homeschoolers reduce the allotment the public schools receive in state and federal funds) and the teachers unions who are intent on regulating homeschoolers to a greater degree. (There are a number of teachers who support homeschooling, and some even homeschool their own children. I am talking about the unions more than individual teachers.) If we open the door a crack, they will push the door further open.
Thus, WPA endeavors to keep the door shut! The goal is a complete separation of homeschoolers and governmental bodies. This spells out, for instance, in the request that homeschoolers not take academic classes or participate in sports in the public schools. While it certainly is convenient and seems practical and helpful to take advantage of local resources you are already helping to pay for - the use of public schools by homeschoolers opens the door to the increased possibility that all homeschoolers in Wisconsin will eventually lose their right to make individual decisions for their family. The decision you make today may very well affect what your children will be able to do as homeschoolers when they are parents.
Let's take sports for an example. Your son wants to participate on the track team. The students at the local high school must achieve a certain grade point average to participate in track. How does the school know your son is working at that same grade level? Do they ask to see his work, his grades, what you are doing with him? In Wisconsin homeschoolers are not responsible to the local school district, but to the DPI. If you show your son's grades and work to the local school district, they are overstepping their bounds as you are not responsible to them. But how do they accept your son as academically sound when the other students have to meet a GPA requirement? And if they can see your son?s grades for track, can they see your daughter's grades if she wants to play the French horn in the band? And if you are showing them the work your homeschooled children are doing, why shouldn't they see the work other homeschooled students in their district are doing? Where does it stop? You can say. "It won?t go any further than the track team." But that is not reality.
Instead, Michele Miller has a homeschool track team for students of all ages and a musical student can join the Cedarburg or Port Washington Civic Band, a stage band, or a young person's orchestra in Milwaukee.
Thus, WPA stands in opposition to:
Tax credits for homeschoolers
Homeschoolers using public school facilities
Virtual schooling as sponsored by public schools
Any activity which links homeschoolers to a government funded program
WPA is comprised of Wisconsinites who are familiar with Wisconsin law, Wisconsin's personality, and Wisconsin's lawmakers. WPA recognizes that every state has its own personality.
The following two paragraphs are the personal opinion of Tomi Fay Forbes, WPA Regional Coordinator:
A battle WPA has fought for many years is the legislative stand often taken by HSLDA - the Home School Legal Defense Association. CHEA works in conjunction with HSLDA. The organizations do become involved in legislative issues. I will state my personal observation. I have been active in Wisconsin homeschooling issues for 18 years.
Throughout the years there have been times when CHEA/HSLDA has called homeschoolers to action over a bill, and WPA has responded to the same bill, saying:
"This bill will die a natural death, we do not need to act on it."
There have been times when WPA has said,
"We need to move on this"
and have rallied homeschoolers to contact their Congressman. At the same time, CHEA has been silent.
Throughout the past 25 years I have been involved in homeschooling, WPA has called legislative issues correctly every time. WPA has been absolutely accurate in their understanding of how to respond to legislative issues.
In addition, there have been several times when HSLDA/CHEA has asked homeschoolers to respond to a proposed bill in the opposite manner that WPA determines. This is very confusing to legislators as they have homeschoolers pulling them two different ways. And, it certainly dilutes our ability to act. Further, HSLDA has approached the federal legislature to install bills regarding homeschooling. (An example is HONDA - a Federal bill you can find on various websites.)
Point one: the Constitution gives the states the power to make decisions regarding education, not the federal government.
Point two: Once a law is in place, it draws attention to the issue, and can be expanded.
WPA understands we must fight to avoid any laws regarding homeschooling from being enacted.
Please monitor this website for further information regarding legislative issues in Wisconsin.