Life has been a whirlwind lately. We left a week ago Tuesday to prepare to testify at a House legislative committee regarding allowing grandparents to homeschool their grandchildren. What a fiasco! I don't understand all of what happened, but apparently the legislative council goofed somehow and the state's homeschool bill went from about 6 pages to 7 lines! In order to work on the bill for grandparents they first had to reintroduce the whole homeschooling bill. Even the legislative branch seems to not know what they are doing! One particular legislator was very hostile to homeschooling in general, and we left knowing some bad things could happen to our bill.
Our drive to Fargo was anything but peaceful, since a big winter storm was brewing. I was glad I wasn't driving, but it was also tough to just sit there and pray for safety. We were also pulling a trailer, and I wondered at times if we could make it up some of the hills on the interstate. Needless to say, we were very thankful to finally hit town and get unpacked.
Thursday was crazy. We were supposed to get set up for the convention, but instead a lot of the day was trying to figure out how to deal with weather related items. Thankfully, Skeet Savage, her daughter Mercy and son Israel Wayne had flown in on Wed., so they were ready to roll. Unfortunately, Steve Demme of Math-U-See had gotten as far as Chicago, and made the decision to fly back home. Even the recording company from Kentucky got as far as Iowa City and had to turn back. That meant no taping for the convention! John Mesko (Good Farmer John) had also gotten snowed in back in Minnesota, and may even still be snowed in.
As if one storm wasn't enough, there was a temporary lull and then another blast of blizzard conditions hit the area. We ended up with about 1/3 of the people that normally attend the homeschool convention when it is held in Fargo. We still felt people were ministered to, and that made all the hassles worthwhile. The Lord's will for the convention was accomplished.
This week we are working on getting back to normal -- whatever normal is! The first order of business was to shovel out from the storms. Thankfully the snowplow had come in and cleared our driveway, and friends shovelled a path from the top of our hill to the door of the basement so we didn't have to wade through 3 feet deep snow while unloading our car. The weather is supposed to make a drastic change by the weekend, and we'll be into the 40's. This time it is above zero!
We are still having goat problems, though. One of our does was down again when the boys went to do chores this morning, so we spent a good part of the day working on her. By tonight she was up and eating well, and we hope to keep her that way. I'm so thankful it didn't happen while we had friends watching our animals. We should have kittens and puppies by the end of the month, and this will be very interesting!
The Hills (as locals refer to our area) aren't quite as hillbillyish as they used to be ... Two nights ago we received a call from a neighbor to let us know that someone had stolen a truck with a trailer, and when they drove on our gravel road had gotten them stuck. Instead of just leaving them, they burned the truck and trailer, and left nails and other construction materials strewn across the gravel road. After a call to another of our neighbors who didn't know anything about this event, I received a call back with further information. Apparently the truck and trailer had been stolen in Fargo and driven all the way up here. So far the culprits have not been apprehended. We have to get back to the scene of the crime and get the nails, etc. off the road so we don't end up with flat tires when we head out that way.
Back to our homeschool bill. Today the committee took up the bill once again -- and didn't tell us they were going to do it. All we asked for was to allow grandparents to homeschool their grandchildren, and this is what the attached amendment would do (and they took out the provision for grandparents to be able to homeschool their grandchildren!):
1. A mom without a college degree could avoid being monitored by the local school district if she took the national teacher's exam; the amendment would change that to "the pre-professional skills test".
2. Required testing was originally set for children in grades 4,6,8, and 10; the amendment would change that to grades 3, 4, 6, 8 and 11.
3. Testing can be either the state assessment test or a nationally normed state achievement test.
4. This amendment would require parents to pay all testing costs.
5. It will be the "grade level proficiency score of the state assessment test" that will be used to determine extension of monitoring or evaluation for learning difficulties -- just as the 30th% and the 50th% of the nationally normed tests are used.
6. Instead of "basic composite score" it now reads "composite score" or "score", depending on which line of the bill you read. In reference to remedial plan, it also reads, "every subject tested..."
7. A new section reads, in part: "Violation of chapter - Penalty . If the superintendent of public instruction determines, after a hearing ... that the child's parent has violated a provision of this chapter ... the ... school district ... monitor the parent for a period of one year. If the parent is already being monitored ... extend the monitoring ... for a period of one additional year. The child's parent is responsible for the cost of any monitoring required by this section".
I say all this to say -- North Dakota has the reputation at Home School Legal Defense as being the most restrictive state in the country for homeschooling laws. This takes the cake.