Monday, April 6, 2009

Those Pesky Attendance Records

The Constitution is not an instrument for the government to restrain the people, it is an instrument for the people to restrain the government - lest it come to dominate our lives and interests.
~Patrick Henry

The state of Georgia is one of the more homeschool friendly states, meaning that there is some regulation on homeschoolers, but it is not really invasive, thankfully. Basically, the law requires that we cover certain subjects for the equivalent of 4.5 hours a day for 180 days. We are required to have nationalized testing done every three years beginning with the third grade, but we don't have to send them in, just have them on hand, along with an annual report of progress. There are other requirements, again nothing too demanding or invasive, like an annual letter of intent to declare I am homeschooling so that my daughter is exempt from the compulsory school attendance laws.

There is one thing that Georgia homeschooling parents must do that is not done in any other state, I believe. Monthly, we must send in attendance records. Monthly! Now there are other states requiring attendance records yearly or for each semester, but not monthly. It is kind of ridiculous that we have to send in anything stating which days our child was in homeschool at the first of every month, because homeschooling is quite often nothing like traditional school. We don't always sit at a desk or table for hours, rarely in fact. There is no bell to start and finish a particular class. My daughter watched a lunar eclipse late at night and she has been learning the mathematics of capacities while preparing recipes, both have been a part of her education. We homeschool a bit every day at all hours. That said, these attendance records don't really mean much as they cannot possibly be a reliable means of reporting what is really going on and they probably just get filed away without being scrutinized. (For that I should be and am quite thankful...but I don't want to give away my secret just yet.)

Knowing all this does not change my aversion of being required to report anything at all to any agency of the government, especially regarding educating my own child in my own home, which I feel should be a constitutionally-protected right of privacy. People will say that homeschooling is legal in every state, but the reality is that homeschooling is not legal in most states: it has been legalized through licensing in every state that places any requirements on it. In other words, it is illegal to homeschool unless you meet with the state requirements to homeschool. There are only two states that come to mind where homeschooling is truly legal, Texas and Alaska.

It saddens me that our society does not understand freedom the way our forefathers did. We have been raised to believe that driving a car is legal and there was a time that people drove on roads without a license, but that time has passed. Now it is illegal unless the state has issued you permission in the form of a driver's license (and to add insult to injury, you have to pay to get that permission).

Ah, well. It is apparent that we are a society mostly educated in government schools. So much for it not dominating our lives and interests!

Here's my dirty little secret: Somewhere in the back of my mind, this unsavory morsel of resentment sits waiting until the day that I prepare the attendance records to send to the local school superintendent. Then it springs forth unexpectedly to make its mark, send a little message, speak its mind, and in so doing embarrass me all on a simple form in permanent ink. Moreover, it also blinds me to the fact that I have, yet again, allowed it to happen even though I checked over the form thrice and sighed relief that this time, this time, finally it will be absolutely correct. HA!

It seems that every attendance record I have sent in for nearly two years has at least one error on it. I did not check the right days, or I did not add up the days correctly, or I date it wrong, or I check the wrong month that I am reporting, or I don't sign it, or I misspell a word, or leave out a number when I write the address, or I forget to send it in until a week later—obviously, I am blinded to the largely written and highlighted reminder on my calendar as well. Then, without mercy, my blindness is lifted the next month so that I can see the last month's error now blazing at me with neon-light quality. I have sent in replacements now and then, but then they probably just go into a file cabinet somewhere and no one really cares. Still, my embarrassment lingers.

Today I prepared the report for March (a bit late) and found that for February I checked off some wrong dates—again!

My Lord, every day I am met with reminders of my imperfections and I thank You for them. They humble me and remind me that government is also flawed, because it is made up of people, who, like me, are imperfect.


  1. {Heheheheh}

    Oh, I do this all the time on official bits of paper. I'm sure it's freudian ~ hidden [or not so hidden in my case] resentment at having to do the stupid paperwork in the first place. You wouldn't believe the dorky stuff I've done with calanders ~ or perhaps you would. You do know me after all. ;)

  2. Now I am just wondering what I will see next month on the "perfect" form I sent in today.

    You suppose you find that thought funny too, eh?


Thank you fellow travelers for walking and talking with me along this journey.