From: Joe Levi
To: Brad Last, Val Peterson, Richard Cunningham, Dean Sanpei, Patrice Arent, Marie Poulson, Greg Hughes, Lowry Snow, Francis Gibson, Kraig Powell, Steve Eliason, Carol Moss, Daniel McCay, David Lifferth, Jim Nielson, Keven John Stratton,
Subject: Please support 1SB39 Home School Amendments
Date: Tue Mar 04 16:39:15 MST 2014
Dear Representatives,

My mother retired from being an elementary school teacher after over 33 years of service. If you were to ask about her experience educating those thousands of children, only one thing would be common between them: every child learns differently.

Today, our teachers have classrooms comprised of 30-or-so students. Our teachers attend Master's level courses to learn how to teach three or four "kinds" of children. The logical fallacy here is that every student they teach will fall into one of those "boxes". Children who do not are often seen as "rowdy" or "attention deficit", and are ostracized by their peers for not conforming.

For these students the system fails almost every single time. Sure, some kids excel despite being taught in a manner that doesn't work for them. How many more do not?

For these kids, "alternate" schools are an option, but since those "systems" are so similar to "traditional" education, many still fall through the cracks.

This is the situation that my family finds itself in today.

My child was deemed "hyper-active" and "attention deficit" by the public school system -- both which are medical diagnosis that were made by educators, not licensed medical professionals. The "solution"? $150/month out-of-pocket for various medicines, which hasn't worked.

We enrolled him in a charter school, which promised smaller class sizes and more hands-on education than is available in public schools. That didn't work either. Finally, he broke down, in tears. No one liked him, he said. His teachers picked on him, he said. He hated learning and rebelled against it.

Finally my wife and I came to the conclusion: traditional and charter education had failed our son -- or he had failed it, depending on which side you're on.

We withdrew him from school, purchased a home-school curriculum, again out-of-pocket, and began teaching him at home. He's challenged by math, but science and reading are now his passion. He devours books now. And he's calm and well-behaved. He's so well-behaved that we've been able to wean him off his medication. Guess what? He didn't need it. The educators in your public school systems just wanted him doped so they wouldn't have to teach "him"... they'd only have to teach "the class". Of course this is just my perception of the situation, and they are entitled to theirs, but the fact of the matter is that this child, like my school-teacher mother said after all her 33 years of teaching, learns differently than others.

What's the solution?

In our case, it was taking him out of the system that failed him and catering an education specifically to him. That's something the public school system cannot logistically accomplish. I'm not asking for that to change.

However, it's this same system, with its rigid controls and mandated programs, that has failed my son.

Some would argue that home schools be kept to the "same standard" and comply with the same controls and mandated programs. Put another way, those people are arguing for the home school to fail as well. To those people I ask, are you more concerned with providing an education to a child, or ensuring that federal money keeps coming in and text-book factories keep getting paid? 

1SB39 Home School Amendments brings home school law in Utah to-to-date. We don't have to "prove" that home-based education is better than public education, nor should public education be held to the standard of home-schooled students.

Either every student learns differently, or they do not. I think you'll have a hard time finding an unbiased teacher who will argue this point.

As such, parents (or guardians) are a child's first teachers and are responsible for the education of their children. Some of those parents are content with the education their children are getting in public schools. Some are not. Ultimately it's the parent's decision. In our case, our only regret is that we didn't take responsibility for the education of our child sooner -- we left that up to the state. The state failed.

1SB39 Home School Amendments will help protect children like mine, who have been otherwise forced into a system that doesn't work for them. It will provide parents with the tools necessary to fulfill their obligation to be a child's "first teacher" and responsible for the education of their children.

I would ask that you support 1SB39 Home School Amendments and pass it out of Committee with a favorable recommendation. Doing so will help children like mine, and devoted parents who doing what is best for their child.

- Joe Levi, LEG 15 Vice Chair