Now that the ERO is no longer reviewing homeschoolers, different groups are calling for a closer look at all homeschoolers. Should we be thinking of organising our own ” self-policing” or ” self-reviewing” agency before the State comes up with something which could possibly be more oppressive?
An answer from:
(Peter was a teacher and headmaster in NZ state schools for 35 years. Since 1983 he has devoted himself to the needs of homeschooling parents through CHESM [Christian Home Education Support Ministries] which is a voluntary association of parents who are seeking a Christcentred and Bible-based education for their children. Support is given through prayer, letters, personal contact, newsletters, provision of a Christian Curriculum and Parents Guide,
specific programmes of work, resource materials, professional advice, testing and evaluation of children. CHESM does not offer a “package type” curriculum, but as each family is unique, all assistance given is designed to meet individual requirements, especially through an integrated and thematic approach as part of a total lifestyle. This have been developed in more recent years through the “Living Beyond Conformity” series.)
Why Patch Up Government Mistakes?
As I see it there are two issues which have to be
considered. The %st was well debated at the
time of the charter business a few years ago–the
responsibility God has given to us parents for our
children’s education, whether we do it ourselves
or delegate it to someone else. The State has
assumed that it has the right to mahe laws which
govern how our children are to be educated.
Having made the laws, it sets in place the
administrative procedures and w-nt fiscal
restmints whereby the ERO is unable to carry out
its functions in reviewing homeschoolers.
Therefore the sec0nd issw arises–should
homeschoolers do anything to replace the ERO’s
default in those procedures which the
Government originally put in place? And if so,
There is no point in debating the fitst issue here.
The sxond issue however is valkl if for no other
reason than the fact that some homeschoolers
may take advantage of what is no longer there.
The mson why I have put the two issues
together is that as the State has taken on certain
“responsibilities” and is required to enforce
them, then it has to accept the consequences if it
can’t. Same have mentioned the possibility of an
increase in people who may abuse their
exemption certificate requirements and so’give
homeschoolers a bad name. This wuld lead to
tightening controls over all homeschoolers and
especially future homeschoolers. Why should the
ionooent suffer syladrome!
I personally am opposed to homeschoolers doing
anything to “patch up” the Government’s failure
to meet its self-imposed regulations. After all,
shouldn’t they be doing what they think they
should? To become an “agency” of the State
could well involve wrong motives and be
misinterpreted and misused in the future.
“Package programmes” such as ACE, AT1 and
Carey College could say that those enrolled in
their programass receive instruction “as regular
and as well …” because, in a sense, this is part of
the package. However there is more to ERO’s
function than the “regular and well” bit. As we
all know, the wording of the Education Act and
the fine print of the MOE and ERO and those
who are supposed to interpret it, have created
many tensions in the past (and no doubt will do
so in the fuhup,) as parents and officialdom wme
face to face. If homeschoolers were to play some
sort of ERO role, a whole range of factors have
to be considered, e.g.
*The wide scope of programm=s and approaches
used by homeschoolers
*Diering goals, expectations and philosophies
(especially when non-Christians are involved)
*How would homeschoolers determine standards
and goals acceptable to all homeschoolers and the
*!Who would do the monitoring? And how?
*It seems likely rhat no one holneschooling body
could achieve agreement, so there would bave to
be a number of different “agencies” doing the
*Would not homeschoolers monitoring (in ERO
sense) other homeschoolers create undesirable
tensions? h s z tensions would certainly exist if
there was any sort of “contracting out of
services” of homeschooling review agencies to
The ERO is part of a political structure and is
tolerated by most homeschoolers. I don’t rhinEc
any homeschoolers group could, or should, be
part of that structure. I certainly would not want
to be involved in any such situation.
So is there an answer?
The Local Support Group
I think an answer lies in what has existed for
many years and is developing even more these
days, viz support groups. These fall into two
categories–groups that extend support all over
NZ, and the smaller local groups. Such groups
seem to offer the following positives:
‘Parents can exercise choice. They can be
associated with om or more groups, according to
their needs at any particular time.
m ygo some way to overcoming philosophical
differences and /or emphases.
*Parents can take the initiative in asking for help
or advice, a d they can also be in a position
where they can be helpful to others. There are
opportunities for sharing and giving.
‘Hopefully in a p-c mi support g- roup situation no
one,- or no group, is -going to carry out a
“judgemental” type of review of the family’s
*Parents associated with support groups are less
likely to floumler around drawing attention to
themselves, and if they do then they are ignoring
opportunities which they can initiate, and they
can’t complain if they get the “chop”.
“Opportunities are afforded for families to share
resources, strengths, tkrae, facilities, etc., and
these all contribute to a positive “image” as often
reported on in local newspapers, etc.
I know the MOE, in some parts of the country at
least, do give new homeschoolers details of
As I’ve said above, families on “package type”
programmes are often automatically accounted
for by the controls over the programmes which
are part of the conditions of enrolment, such as
parent training, seminars and rallies.
Conferences such as the ones Craig and Barbara
Smith of CHomeS have organized in the past are
all part of a responsible and positive image. I
think there is room for more regional get
togethers-not necessarily highly structured and
“organized”, but providing opportunities to fan
sparks into flamzs.
One very important aspect to responsible
homeschooling (certainly from a Christian
perspective) is the need for strong convictions. If
these exist and are soundly based, there is less
possibility for +-fairy programmes. Support
groups help develop and hone convictions. It
may not eliminate “cranks”, but those with strong
convictions will either find others of like min4 to
support them, or they wilI have to stand alone.
Therefore the role of the ERO is quite diierent
to tbe role hmschoolers should play in
maintaining standards and responsible attitudes.
We’re on different sides of the fence, and for
very diierent reasons.
SO what is the i M ? I don’t know if there is any
one answer to this. However if we continue to
maintain an efficfve “voice”, sod if we are
always alert, then we can monitor, and take
action if need be, on any attempts the politicians
and bureaucrats may make in changing conditions