October 1, 2014


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Letter to those who gave Donations to the Home Education Foundation

This is the letter I wrote on the 22 April to send out to those who gave donations to the Home Education Foundation during the 2013/2014 financial year.

Greetings

Thank you for your faithfulness in giving each month. Your donations are greatly appreciated to keep the www.hef.org.nz website running and also help cover many of the other expenses required to run an office from home.  Enclosed is your receipt for the 2013/14 financial year.

I still receive lots of phone calls from parents wanting to home educate their children. Mostly I pass them on to their local support group, but some require me to talk more with them. Some of the people I have spoken to over the past 12 months are new immigrants, solo parents having trouble with WINZ, CYPs and/or the Police, and others having trouble with the ERO (although calls to do with the ERO  have quietened down a lot). I like to keep an eye on what the MoE and ERO are doing and what other home educators are doing as well.

MoE Exemption Form

The MoE online Homeschooling info pack has changed. Page 7 now includes:

Remember, you will need to have a record of progress and achievement over time i.e. weekly, termly, annually. This may also be needed when your child goes on to further education or training.

Please read my enclosed letter to the MoE. This will show you what some of my concerns are about this insertion into the exemption application form. Other concerns not mentioned in this letter are as follows:

1. If the MoE thinks that they can just insert a paragraph into the exemption package without first consulting and informing home educators, they will continue to do this until we are in quite a bind with them and find that we have unbearable restrictions.

2. In 1996 the MoE asked all home educators to write a self-evaluation report in lieu of reviews, for the Audit Office. Home Educators fought this and we WON. We did not want to have our reports incriminating us at some later date. Anything we write good or bad (with reading behind the lines) can be taken against us at some stage. And with the way the world is now, I don’t trust the Government at all. What is to stop the MoE at some later date requiring home educators to send in to the MoE their record of progress and achievement over time i.e. weekly, termly, annually? So I would like to encourage individuals and support groups to write to the MoE.

Even more concerning than the record-keeping requirement is the extra page of questions about the last 6 months for children who have been to an ECE Appendix A: Homeschooling Application Form [WORD; 59kb]. This has been included sometime during the last 2 years. What worries me is what they will use the information for. This could be the first move towards something else, something worrying—compulsory preschool for 3-5 year olds.  We have looked at how to handle this and decided that a letter in the first instance would be best—see enclosed.  Then, no matter what they answer, we will keep our eyes skinned and watch them like hawks.  A bigger battle might be ahead than just a change on the exemption form.

Home Educators on a benefit

Being on a benefit is a real problem for people wanting to home educate. My advice to people is to get off the benefit as soon as possible. But unfortunately for a lot of people that is not possible at all. So they have to work around the obligations to keep getting the benefit. Some WINZ officers are great and tell home educators that having an exemption is enough—they can continue home educating without having to get a job. Other WINZ officers are very strict and by the book. If your youngest child is 5 then you have to work 15 hours a week and if your youngest child is 14 you have to work 30 hours a week. Some officers get mothers going to “Getting Work Ready” day-conferences when their child is well under 5 and the child must be left in care for that day. This could be something that we look into more this coming year.

There has been no word about the 3-4 age group of beneficiaries doing Government approved curriculum—we will leave this alone and not rock the boat.

International Home Education—There are many concerns about home education worldwide:

1. The Romeike family and the concerns behind their case http://hef.org.nz/2014/hslda-dangerous-policy-lurks-behind-romeike-triumph/  The U.S. Supreme Court declined to hear their appeal to stay there but they are able to stay indefinitely  in the States as guests of the USA Government http://hef.org.nz/2014/the-romeike-reprieve/

2. The German home educating family in New Zealand who was refused Asylum in NZ 2012 has returned to Germany. http://hef.org.nz/2014/is-new-zealand-a-free-country/ and  http://hef.org.nz/2014/will-the-supreme-court-take-romeike-please-pray/

3. The Government in Scotland passed a Bill assigning a Government Agent for every child. http://hef.org.nz/2014/hsldascotland-officials-overstep-bounds-by-passing-bill-to-invade-the-family/ This has been muted in NZ. Craig wrote about it several times in TEACH Bulletin. We need to keep an eye on the Government and any moves they make in this direction in NZ.

4. In France a Bill to Restrict Homeschooling to “Exceptional Circumstances” was withdrawn after worldwide opposition to it. http://hef.org.nz/2014/bill-would-restrict-homeschooling-to-exceptional-circumstances-2/

5. There is proposed legislation at the Council of Europe which “calls out homeschooling as a practice that should be restricted because of the danger of parallel societies and religious sectarianism.”  Michael Donnelly of the HSLDA says “The Salles report poses a serious threat to religious freedom and goes too far as to undermine a parent’s right to choose to homeschool their child on the basis of their religious convictions, a right that is clearly protected by the European Convention and other human rights treaties.”  http://hef.org.nz/2014/council-of-europe-report-threatens-homeschooling/

Keystone

Good news—we are hoping to get the July 2011 Keystone (which Craig had half finished) completed and in the mail by July 2014. We will change everyone’s subscriptions to 4 issues (or however many are still left on your subscription) instead of 4 issues a year. We will not have a time limit for when each issue comes out—when it is ready we will post it, hopefully with not too much time between each issue. I have two young ladies who have finished being home educated helping me. Your donations will help to pay them for the work that they are doing in helping me put together Keystone. Please pray for us as we do this. It is a huge learning curve for all of us.

Update 16/09/14 Due to my illness, three weeks in hospital and an operation which I am still recovering from, Keystone did not come out in July. I have a new aim of January 2015. This is a huge learning curve for me as Craig used to do everything up to the proof reading stage. I became involved in proof reading and stuffing envelopes with all our family.

Home Education Foundation staff

So the very part-time staff of the Home Education Foundation are Lisa and Jeanli Boessenkool for Keystone and Suzannah Rowntree for Legal issues—all home education graduates. My children and I continue to maintain the website, answer phone calls, SKYPE calls and emails as we can, while keeping an eye on the MoE, ERO and what other home educators are doing.

Thank you again for your prayers and support. We could not be doing all this without you

Blessings

Barbara Smith

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Barbara’s health update June 5th

Mrs Smith returned home from hospital on May 16th where she was welcomed and ably cared for by all 4 daughters. Genevieve and Charmagne returned to their families in Australia by the 24th of May, and since the 26th I (Suzannah Rowntree) have been installed in the Smith home to keep things functioning smoothly. In the last three weeks Mrs Smith’s recovery has been slow but steady. She was still on painkillers and in a good deal of pain from her operation when I arrived, but for the last 4 or 5 days has been able to get by without painkillers and says that apart from some tightness around her ribs, she is no longer in significant pain. Yesterday she began sitting up to the table for meals for the first time since becoming ill, and was also able to sit outside to enjoy the sun a number of times this week.

It is a wonderful encouragement to see her recovering so well and in such good spirits!

Mrs Smith would like to thank everyone for their prayers and support during this time. Her illness itself was an answer to prayer which the Lord has used to bring progress and some healing to a difficult situation. It gave her a rare opportunity to be surrounded by most of her children and to meet her newest grandchild, Josiah. As usual, she is glowing with contentment even as she continues to ask for your prayers for the Lord to resolve this ongoing difficult situation and to bring her back to full health.

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Barbara’s health update May 15

Barbara Smith has been transferred back to Palmerston North from Wellington. She is recovering well from what is reputably the most painful operation to recover from. I understand the procedure is normally done under an epidural which she couldn’t have which has likely made her recovery all the more painful again.

A doctor visiting her today told her that her seventh rib had been removed during the proceedure due to it not being flexible enough for the drains to push past.

She is very weak. Every movement such as walking to the bathroom or eating is excrutiatingly slow. She is anemic and borderline for needing a transfusion.

Her recovery is extremely slow and the journey to full health is going to be a long haul. However she hopes to be released home in a couple of days.

Barbara’s daughter, Genevieve, has sent receipts to those who gave charitable donations to HEF during the past financial year. They should be received shortly.

Thank you for your kind thoughts and prayers. These are VERY much appreciated at this time.

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Barbara’s health

Praise God, Mum has had the best night sleep since she’s been in hospital! However, she woke up with terrible pain since she slept through her scheduled tablets and wasn’t awake to press the Morphine. (This is by all accounts one of the most painful operations to recover from – and the surgeon decided against the epidural they usually use to manage pain) Back on track with pain killers now though.
Please pray for Mum and Nurses/physio as they get her up today. Yesterday morning they tried, and her blood pressure plummeted down to 65/42 and they had to hoist her back into bed and hurry fluids and a couple other things to bring blood pressure back up.

Later this morning she was doing really well in the chair, no nausea, steady BP and heartrate. Going through her breathing exercises.
The timeline at this stage loos like:
One drain out tomorrow, second drain and catheter out Monday, back to Palmerston North hospital tuesday, continue with antibiotics in Palmy.

 

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An update on Barbara’s health

Last night Barbara was transferred to Wellington hospital – with Charmagne accompanying her.

Today she is getting ready for decortication surgery to drain the fluid around the lung.

This should happen late this morning or early afternoon.

 

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