October 19, 2016

Homeschooling in New York State: Q & A session #1*

Questions about homeschooling in NY?
Here are some answers!

"We decided homeschooling is the best option for our family, but we don't know where to begin.  How do we know what's required to teach?  What do we need to send to the school district?  Is Kindergarten mandatory?  What about testing?  Do I need to be a certified teacher?  Help!"

Over the life of this blog, I've encountered all these questions, and more, so I thought it was time to address all the questions I've come up against in one post.  Hopefully, you'll learn everything you need to begin your homeschooling journey or to streamline the journey you're already on.  In either case, good luck!  And always feel free to ask any questions I may have missed by commenting down below.

My child will be 6 on December 21st.  Should I send my Letter of Intent (LOI) now?  (A.K.A., what is the compulsory age of attendance in New York State?)

The compulsory age of attendance in NY is 6, however, the cutoff is December 1st, so if your child turns six after December 1st, then you do not need to send in an LOI or do anything else to alert the school of your choice to homeschool until the following school year.  For example, if your child turns 6 on December 21st of 2016, then you would not need to send in your LOI until the 2017-18 school year.  If, however, your child turns 6 on or before December 1st, then, yes, you will need to send your LOI to the district for the current or upcoming school year as per the state's regulations, which I'll discuss a little later on.

Is Kindergarten mandatory?

Technically, there is no "grade" that is mandatory.  All NY requires is that children be in attendance beginning at the age of 6 until the age of 16.  As far as homeschooling is concerned, you are free to decide at what "grade" level your child should work.  If you feel your child is too advanced for Kindergarten when you begin schooling, then you are free to begin them at 1st grade or any other grade level you feel is appropriate.

Do I need to de-register my child from their school?  The school told me I need to come in to sign some forms before I can take my child out of school, is that true?

Simply put, no.  If your child's school insists that there is something you must do - some paperwork to fill out or forms to sign or procedure to follow - before they'll "let" you withdraw your child from school, then be prepared to confront them with the state regulations. If your child is of compulsory attendance age, there is nothing you  need to do other than to turn in your Letter of Intent as outlined in the regulations.  If you feel your child's school is going to give you a hard time in this area, you may want to have a copy of the state regulations on hand with which to make your point and to make it known that you are familiar with what's required and don't intend to let the school give you the run-around.

We just decided to homeschool our kids, but it's now January, and the school year started in September.  Can we still pull our kids out?  Or do we need to wait until the end of the school year?  I read somewhere that the Letter of Intent is due by July 1st.  Is it too late now?

Normally, the Letter of Intent is due by July 1st before the upcoming school year.  However, the state regulations make provisions for those who decide to homeschool after the school year has already begun.  In that case, your LOI is due within 14 days of when you begin homeschooling in your district.  So, you can pull your child from school at any time during the year, and within 14 days from the day you pull them, your LOI is due.

We just moved to the area, and the school year has already begun.  Can we still homeschool?  Or do we need to enroll our kids in the public school until the next school year?

Just as the state regulations make provisions for those who decide to begin homeschooling after the start of the school year, so it is with those who move to a new school district after the start of the school year.  Your LOI will be due within 14 days of when you begin homeschooling in your new district.

Do I need to be a certified teacher in order to homeschool my child?  What qualifications do I need?

The only provision NY makes for a person to homeschool is that the person doing the teaching needs to be "qualified".  As the parent, there is nobody more qualified to teach your children than you are.  You know your child's educational needs better than anyone.  And if ever you found yourself thinking you are unable to teach your child something, then you know how to find a way to teach that thing to them, whether it be a tutor, or a video tutorial, or homeschool co-op class.  You have what it takes.  You know your child's needs.  Therefore, you are qualified.  Thankfully, the state of NY doesn't require anything more than that in order to teach your child at home.

*Nothing written in this blog post is intended to be construed as legal advice.  This is simply the author's understanding of the New York State home education regulations through 6 years of homeschooling her own children in the state.

October 10, 2016

I'm Disgusted by Those Who Support Trump, but I'm Still Voting for Him.

Oh, really?

At what point did degradation, sexual assault, and rape become better than indirectly causing someone’s death?  That’s the argument – that Donald Trump has said some horrible things, and is accused of doing some horrible things, but at least he didn’t indirectly cause the death of anyone, like Hillary did (i.e., Bengazi).  At least he didn’t delete his emails to cover up the fact that he may have divulged national secrets to the wrong people. 
Imagine someone saying, I robbed a bank, but at least….I abused my children, but at least….I cheated an elderly couple out of their life savings, but at least….I raped a woman, but at least….
 NO!  There is no “but at least” in any of these situations.

 Trump says, “It’s locker room banter.”

 Scott Baio, actor and Trump toady, said “And ladies out there, this is what guys talk about when you’re not around,” he added. “So if you are offended by it, grow up. And by the way this is what you guys talk about over white wine when you have your brunches. This is the way the world works, take it easy. ”

 Folks all over the internet are posting memes that read, “I’m more concerned about what Hillary has done than I am about what Trump has said.” 
[Listen, ladies.  If your men are talking like this, then you need to find yourselves new men, because I promise you, not all men talk like this, and the ones who do are disgusting pigs.  Chances are very good that your men do not treat you the way they should.  Chances are very good that your men will one day act upon the words they have spoken.  It’s not normal.  It’s not “the way the world works”.]
 So, what is it that Trump said?

 “I tried to fuck her.”

“I moved on her like a bitch, and she was married.”

“When you’re a star, they let you do it.  You can do anything you want.  Grab them by the pussy.”

 Now, replace the words ‘her’, ‘she’, and ‘them’ with the names of your mother/wife/sister/granddaughter/daughter/friend/self and say those statements again.  Better yet, have your husband/father/brother/son/grandson/friend read them back to you with those names in there.

 Still just “locker room banter”?  Still willing to say, “but at least…”?


 Okay, then how about this:

In a 1989 deposition, Trump’s then-wife Ivana, under oath, accused Donald of raping her.  She said he was angry at her, threw her onto the bed, pinned her arms back, tore her hair out of her scalp, and then forced sexual intercourse on her.

 In 1997, a woman named Jill Harth filed a suit against Trump claiming that Trump made unwanted sexual advances, groped her without her consent, and even attempted to rape her at a time when she and her romantic partner George Houraney were working out a deal to throw an event at one of Trump’s Atlantic City casinos.  Harth said he forced her into a bedroom belonging to his daughter, Ivanka, forcibly kissed, fondled, and restrained her from leaving, against her will and despite her protests

 In another incident, Harth stated, “He pushed me up against the wall, and had his hands all over me and tried to get up my dress again.”

 In April of 2016, a woman known only as Jane Joe filed a lawsuit against Trump in which she alleges that when she was 13 years old, Trump raped her. 

 Jane Doe says that as a thirteen year old, she was enticed to attend parties at the home of Jeffrey Epstein with the promise of money modeling jobs. Mr. Epstein is a notorious  “billionaire pedophile” who is now a Level 3 registered sex offender - the most dangerous kind, “a threat to public safety” — after being convicted of misconduct with another underage girl.

 Jane Doe says that Mr. Trump “initiated sexual contact” with her on four occasions in 1994. Since she was thirteen at the time, consent is not an issue. If Mr. Trump had any type sexual contact with her in 1994, it was a crime.

 On the fourth incident, she says Mr. Trump tied her to a bed and forcibly raped her, in a “savage sexual attack,” while she pleaded with him to stop. She says Mr. Trump violently struck her in the face. She says that afterward, if she ever revealed what he had done, Mr. Trump threatened that she and her family would be “physically harmed if not killed.”

 This case has a witness, referred to as “Tiffany Doe”, Trump’s party planner at the time, whose job it was to get attractive adolescent women to attend these parties.

But, it’s just locker room banter.  Right?

 At least he didn’t neglect his duties, leading to the deaths of innocent people.

 We should be more worried about what Hillary has done than by what Trump has said.  Right?

 Oh.  Wait….

 Do you honestly believe that violent rape of women is somehow better than indirectly causing the deaths of people?  Somehow, rape is better than death.  Somehow.

 Every 2 minutes in America, a woman is raped.  Tell HER that rape is better than death.  Tell HER, “But at least you didn’t die.”  I doubt she’ll share your sentiment.  I’m fairly certain that, to her, what she endured was equivalent to death.  Her life is changed forever.  For all intents and purposes, her former self IS dead.

 You people who proudly display your Trump signs in your front yards.  You people who slap a Trump bumper sticker on your car.  You people who post memes on social media several times a day, touting your support for Trump.  You people who can be heard in conversation saying, “I used to despise Trump, but the more I hear him speak, the more I think he’s a good guy.”

 Wake up!

 How can you openly and brazenly support this man who not only degrades women every time he opens his mouth, but speaks explicitly about sexually assaulting women and refers to it as “locker room banter”, and who is also accused of, and most likely guilty of, raping women and underage girls?

 How can you be proud to support this man?

 How can you want other people to know that you support this man?

 Because, at least he didn’t……

  Here’s the long and the short of it:  Clinton and Trump are equally horrible.  Neither of them is better than the other.  There is not one of them about whom it can be said, “But at least they didn’t….”  Clinton is responsible for many, many senseless deaths.  Trump is responsible for raping women and abusing young girls.  Neither of those things is better than the other.  Anyone who openly supports either of these candidates should be ashamed.

 You will find in my yard no signs.  You will find on my car no bumper stickers.  You will find on my social media no supportive memes.  And you will never, ever hear me say that either of them is a good person.

 But, I will be voting for Trump come November. 
[Please note that voting for a person and openly supporting that person are two entirely different things.]
 My reason is simple: Aside from Cabinet secretaries and Supreme Court justices, whose nominations require the approval of the Senate, the President of the United States currently has the authority to unilaterally appoint over 300 people to high-level positions within the federal government.  With the introduction of a Republican president, we can be assured that these positions would be filled by Republicans, and, for me, that is important.  Also, the protection of the right to life and the 2nd amendment, which Trump supports, and which will be affected greatly by either a right- or left-leaning government.

 I won’t be voting for Trump because he’s a good person.  He’s not.I won’t be voting for Trump because he’s better than Hillary.  He’s not.

 I will be voting for Trump, but you won’t see me supporting him, and, if you openly support him, you should seriously reconsider.  It’s not something to be proud of.  It’s not something to seek “likes” for on social media.  And it surely isn’t going to convince anyone who wasn’t already convinced to vote for Trump.

 Trump is exactly what Hillary called his supporters – deplorable.