Turk and Ann Nelson
Our first inductees are Turk and Ann Nelson. The following is what Ann shared about their experience: We first heard of homeschooling in the fall of 1987 when church friends told us they were planning to homeschool. They shared lots of materials with us and the more we read the more excited we became. I especially liked the idea of being able to spend so much more time with my children. The more I read about what schools are teaching or not teaching, the more my Christian beliefs were incensed. We decided to home school.
We were taken to court in November of 1988. Our second daughter was two months old at the time. Chris Klicka from HSLDA, Virginia, and Greg Lange, ND, were our attorneys. We were just minutes into the trial when our attorneys objected, went up and talked to the judge. Our case was immediately dismissed. Most of our small town did not support us. Surprisingly, however, the state's attorney informed us he would not press charges again until after the next legislative session because legislators were seeking legal remedies for the homeschool community.
And change it they did! The passage of HB 1421 provided three ways parents could teach their children: 1. Be a ND state certified 2. Be monitored by ND state certified teacher OR 3. Meet or exceed the cut-off scores on a national teachers’ exam. This last choice was included at the very last moment; some legislators apparently believed it would be impossible for lay people to pass the test. Clinton Birst was thrilled! He saw this as the means by which large numbers of people would be able to teach their children. And, he was right!
An interesting side note during this time: Just before our trial, a social worker from a neighboring county called me and wanted to visit our home. I told him our lawyers instructed us not to talk to anyone unless they were present. The social worker persisted and I still said no. Then, he said, "So, you're refusing to let me in." I said, "No, I'm just asking you to wait until after the trial." He hung up and I never heard from him again.
Several years later, I applied to be a 4-H leader. A few days later I received a call saying they were required to do a background check and discovered I was listed as a child abuser! I was amazed and couldn't imagine how this could be. The county agent asked if this could be a result of the legal problems we had with homeschooling. Aha! The social worker, back to haunt us! By the way, I did get to be a 4-H leader and, as far as I know, my name has never been cleared.
A constant question from others was, "What about socialization?" Our three kids are now adults and parents themselves. They are confident, out-going, and personable. They are active in their churches and communities. All of them are serving the Lord and are either homeschooling or plan to homeschool. Two of the three have college degrees. Our son was the first homeschooler to receive a scholarship from UND to play football. We are proud of them and think their "socialization" has gone quite well.
We have no regrets. It has been the most rewarding, fulfilling, wonderful experience of our lives. We would do nothing differently.
Our oldest daughter leads a Bible Study for young mothers. You'll find me teaching the next generation for her every Monday morning. I am still loving it!!
Gregory Lange, Esq.
Gregory Lange, formerly Hazen, ND, was attorney for defendants Thomas and Peggy Patzer and Raymond and Lorita Larsen, Richard and Kathy Reimche and Gerald and Sheryl Lund in cases brought before the ND Supreme Court February 1986 regarding failure to comply with the state's compulsory school attendance law. Patzers and Larsens had been convicted in a bench trial in Stutsman County. Reimches and Lunds were convicted also in a bench trial in Bottineau County. The previous convictions were confirmed by the NDSC. Lange then had the privilege of arguing before the NDSC in 1988 in a reversal of a previous case again against the Lunds and Reimches.
In other 1988 cases Lange appealed the case against Mark and Lynette Dagley (affirmed) and Jonathan and Diana Melin (reversed the "Judgment of not guilty")… And more was to come.
In 1989 Greg appeared with Michael Farris (HSLDA) as he argued for overturning the case against Neil and Chris Toman. The convictions of the lower court were affirmed.
Also in 1989 Chris Klicka (HSLDA) and Greg argued before the NDSC once again and once again the lower court ruling was affirmed in the case against Gary and Nancy Brewer.
These cases all dealt with failure to comply with the state's compulsory attendance law. The importance: it led this struggle for educational freedom into the spotlight.
Greg and his law firm in Hazen were instrumental in bringing to the forefront the absolute need to fix these growing difficulties faced by parents who simply wanted to homeschool their children without threats from government agents. His work on behalf of the early pioneers cannot be overestimated. It is worth mentioning that his wisdom and encouragement shared with Clinton Birst proved invaluable to both Clinton and Judi. It was this continued exposure to homeschoolers that led Greg and Laurie to homeschool their own children.
Greg often testified at legislative committee hearings as the homeschool law developed after 1989. His was always a voice of legal reason. With joy and gratitude we induct Gregory Lange into the North Dakota Homeschool Hall of Fame.