News & Announcements

Nov 6, 2013

State Financial Scholarship Not for Homeschool Students

A postcard from School Choice North Carolina has caused confusion for some NC homeschool families. The postcard pertains to the North Carolina Opportunity Scholarship, a recently enacted program that subsidizes tuition costs for qualified families to enroll in a nonpublic school. The postcard advises; "Check your family's eligibility for a state financial scholarship." Homeschool students are not eligible for this scholarship. 

For those who would like to know about this program, here are the details:

The North Carolina Opportunity Scholarship program was passed in July 2013 and will help students from low income families by allowing them to receive scholarships up to $4,200 per student to attend private schools. Scholarship amounts must not exceed the actual cost of tuition and fees.

To qualify the student must live in a household that meets 100% Free and Reduced Lunch qualifications and be a full time student who has not graduated from high school and attended a public school during the 2014 spring semester.

The State Education Assistance Authority (SEAA) will administer the program and award the scholarships. The SEAA will make applications available for the 2014-2015 school year no later than February 1, 2014. They will begin notifying scholarship recipients by March 1, 2014. Once a child has been awarded a scholarship, the SEAA will send scholarship funds to the appropriate nonpublic school at least twice each school year, after the student has selected and been admitted to a qualifying nonpublic school. A homeschool does not qualify.

The nonpublic school must administer a nationally standardized test at least once a year to all scholarship students enrolled in grades three or higher. Scores are not public record unless the school has more than 25 scholarship students.

Schools that receive these scholarship monies have accountability requirements to meet including background checks, and the requirement to have a financial review if they receive more than $300,000 in scholarships.

Oct 21, 2013
Conferences

OBB to Perform at 2014 Conference

NCHE is excited to announce that OBB will be in concert at the 2014 Annual Conference. OBB is a highly successful trio of three brothers who were homeschooled.
 
Playing to arenas packed with screaming fans, seeing your first EP make an impressive chart debut and getting to perform on national television seems like the stuff dreams are made of. For the Oswald brothers, who play under the moniker OBB, these professional feats have already become reality—and all before their 22nd birthdays. The trio's infectious songs, infused with hope amidst a backdrop of colorful pop, are connecting with young fans desiring to sing along to something that matters. 

Zach (22), Jacob (20) and Nich (18) share a room, a homeschool history and even an iTunes account. Luckily, the three siblings from Atlanta seem fairly agreeable. Lovers of all-things music, the brothers have been sharpening their musical abilities for as long as they can remember. 

After being encouraged by their grandmother to enter the CBS Early Show's "Singing Family Face-Off" in 2009, the talented Oswald Brothers Band placed third in the competition garnering national notoriety. The boys began honing their chops, mowing lawns and teaching music lessons in their spare time to finance their music addiction, until Curb Records took notice and signed them to a record deal in 2012. 

The hard-working band released a self-titled EP, containing five songs all written or co-written by the siblings, in early 2013 just in time for the beginning of the Winter Jam Tour Spectacular where the brothers scored a high-profile performance slot opening for some of their musical heroes. 

"I grew up singing Matthew West and TobyMac songs," Zach shares. "These are the people who got us interested in Christian music, and here I am standing next to them." Ironically, the brothers' first-ever concert was actually a Winter Jam date in Atlanta, making the experience a dream come true. 

The Oswald brothers are currently working on their first full-length album. In the meantime, their EP is making waves. OBB debuted at #23 on Billboard's Heatseekers chart and #39 on the Billboard Christian albums chart, a rarity for an EP bowing from a brand-new artist. In addition to sharing their music with as many people as possible, OBB is passionate about church ministry. The trio serves on the worship team at Atlanta's Passion City Church, the congregation founded by Louie Giglio and Chris Tomlin. 

Zach Oswald (22, lead vocals/keys/guitars)—As the eldest sibling, Zach is every bit the charismatic front man of OBB. Smart and friendly, Zach smiles a lot. He doesn't do mornings, but he's in charge of the band's scheduling. Ironically, his brothers claim they are always waiting on him. He's the tech guy of the band, taking after his father who works for HP. He creates all their tracks, and thanks to his years of formal classical piano training, he's been dubbed the "musical director" of the group. Nich and Jacob say they are constantly keeping their smiling sibling on track. 

Jacob Oswald (20, lead guitars)—The conscientious one, Jacob is the first to get up in the mornings. He's always prepared, and his outgoing personality keeps him busy during any downtime at venues. His brothers readily admit he's the most social of the three. An avid fan of John Mayer and NEEDTOBREATHE, Jacob is a master at his craft, often emulating his musical icons by learning to play their entire albums, song by song, chord by chord. He's also colorblind and often suffers from the "middle child syndrome." Jacob's the one mowing the lawn while Zach and Nich goof off. His brothers contend he's the "eye candy" of the group. 

Nich Oswald (18, drums)—The youngest of the three, Nich is always tinkering on a project. He much prefers work to socializing and can always be found building or re-wiring something, for better or for worse. He builds all of the band's road cases by hand, and his latest invention includes making tasers out of Altoids cans, which he tests on his brothers, much to their chagrin. The quietest of the trio, he says he's content staying in the background, though his sly humor would say otherwise. With a knack for sound and video production, he knows the ins and outs of every aspect of their performance. Jacob says Nich is the best cook of the three, as evidenced by his recent victory in a family cook-off. Zach begs to differ.

Oct 16, 2013
Law & Policy

Home Visitations, the Law, and the Credibility of NC Homeschoolers

Editorial by Kevin McClain, President of NCHE

Approximately two weeks ago, the newly appointed director of the Division of Non-Public Education, David Mills, announced his plans to randomly select a small percentage of NC homeschools for an invitation to visit and inspect the records required by law to be kept by homeschoolers. He was beginning with five homeschools.

These homeschools received a letter informing them that 30 minutes was the time allotted for the visit, the inspection would only involve the records required by the law (their attendance, immunization and standardized test records) and that the remainder of the time Mr Mills would avail himself to address any questions the homeschool administrator had concerning compliance with NC homeschool law. The letter gave a date and time for the visit but also provided for the homeschool to call and offer alternative dates and times.

On behalf of NCHE, I contacted David Mills to discuss the plans. We spoke at length. Mr. Mills informed me that the homeschools randomly selected could decline, without penalty, even though these types of record inspections are authorized in the law. Given that DNPE has not engaged in home inspections for many years, and instead has utilized a mail or online voluntary record submission, I asked specifically the reasoning behind the change in inspection activity. The reason given for this change was because Mr. Mills believed it would be a service to the NC homeschooling community. Recent events had caused the public to question the accountability of NC homeschoolers and the credibility of our system of governance.  

It was NCHE's assessment that Mill's plan was not in violation of the law, because according to Article 39 of chapter 115C of the General Statutes, sections 115C-549, 115C-557, 115C-563 and 115C-564, homeschools are to make required records available for inspection by a "duly authorized representative" at the "principal's office." In other words, DNPE officials are granted authority by NC Law to inspect the records in the principal's office. NCHE contacted Home School Legal Defense Association (HSLDA) for their view, and Dee Black, HSLDA's NC attorney, affirmed this assessment. Moreover, NCHE recognized that David Mill's plan strove to continue the history of good will DNPE officials have sought to develop with NC homeschoolers. The fact that the inspection was such a small sample (less that .01%), had no consequences for declining, that he was willing to inspect records at the front door, and that Mills was making time available to the homeschool administrator to address any questions that might exist were all evidences of his good will and good governance, seeking to strike a balance within the law, mediating between NC citizens who practice homeschool and those who question the very validity of the practice.

In the morning of Oct. 14, David Mills announced that he had decided not to carry out his plans. I again contacted David Mills to discuss the change. Mr. Mills informed me that he had received calls from homeschoolers expressing their dismay concerning the plan. His assessment was that his plan was misunderstood.  

On Oct 14, Lt Gov. Dan Forest issued a press release ("Random Homeschool Searches Need To Stop") publicly denouncing the plan, calling DNPE's lawfully authorized inspections "searches" and "warrantless entry by government officials."  Moreover, the press release quotes Lt. Gov. Forest as saying DNPE's "policy is intrusive, unnecessary, and has the potential to infringe on the constitutionally-protected privacy rights of tens of thousands of North Carolina homeschool families.” 

NC home educators are fortunate to have a Division of Non-Public Education, staffed with public officials who understand and respect a family's right to educational freedom. We are also fortunate that DNPE officials have never sought to implement the full force the law authorizes. Historically, DNPE officials have had amiable relations with NC homeschoolers. In the 1980s, when our law was first in effect, DNPE officials worked hard to visit each private school and homeschool across the state. Some inspectors were even hosted by gracious NC homeschoolers. The rapid growth in homeschooling caused home visitations to become less practical, and they turned to other means such as mail and now Internet that were deemed more efficacious. However, record submission for inspection is not required by law, and so paper and electronic record submission programs were rightly understood by DNPE and NC homeschools to be voluntary.    

It is my view that DNPE is carrying out their duty to NC citizens in inspecting records. It is the law that NC homeschoolers keep certain records, and it is the duty of DNPE officials to testify to their veracity. This activity is characteristic of good governance.  Moreover, it serves an important public function. It allows the state to mediate between me, a person who favors home education, and my neighbors, some of who find the practice questionable. By inspecting my records and verifying their existence, DNPE officials can confirm the lawfulness of my family's educational activity. 

By analogy, NC citizens have a right to drive a vehicle. But the state also has a right to verify that the driver of a vehicle has met the requirements of the law, the publicly-negotiated standards of conduct, concerning a vehicle. They may verify a driver's speed, a driver's obtainment of a license and insurance, the satisfaction of car safety standards and even a driver's state of intoxication.  None of these inspection activities make a person a better driver. Rather their presence helps create a culture which dissuades irresponsibility. What is agreed is that the danger of radical irresponsibility concerning vehicles is unacceptable. We, as a public community, have therefore worked to mitigate that danger. None of our plans are perfect, but none of these activities are an invasion of privacy. Every analogy has its faults, and this one does as well.  I don't know of any activity that is comparable to educating a child, nor any relationship that is comparable to  the relationship between a parent and a child. However, I do believe that recent events have called the accountability and credibility of home educators into question. Part of our credibility is our commitment to the public good and our proper understanding of good governance and the law. 

The characterization of DNPE's planned visits by some as overreaching fails to meet the standards of credibility we wish to achieve. Characterization of the inspection as  "searches" and "warrantless entry by government officials" of a residence is factually incorrect. The scheduling of a visit to a NC homeschool by a DNPE official is not a "search" of a home.  It is mutually-agreed upon inspection of the records at the homeschool's "principal's office."  Because of 4th Amendment rights, for those who are uncomfortable having a DNPE official in their home, the inspection could even be held at the front door. But to characterize the activity as "intrusive" is false, given that the law requires the records to be kept and available for inspection, and that the meeting would have been planned and a date and time mutually agreed upon by the parties.  Calling it "unnecessary" and finally, to declare that an activity has "potential to infringe on the constitutionally-protected privacy rights" is to encourage speculation and distrust in legitimate public service.  

Raising healthy, productive children is a moral public service every family is engaged in, and good governance cannot help but touch upon it. Good governance supports it. It is my assessment that the planned visits were intended to serve and empower the NC homeschool by providing the homeschool principal assurance regarding his or her understanding of the requirements of the law and the homeschool's state of compliance.   Following inspection of records, a NC homeschool administrator could say with authority their legal compliance had been verified by state personnel. 

Homeschooling continues to grow in our state, and parents are empowered to enjoy the freedom afforded them under the law. However, the potential for fraudulent activity masquerading as homeschooling also grows. While the true accountability of the educator rests in the future of the student as students must progress in their education to progress in society, the veracity of a NC homeschool's record-keeping activity, according to NC law, resides with DNPE. NCHE encourages NC homeschoolers to study the law, as well as its history, and to consider public officials functioning legally as servant-leaders worthy of respect.   

The credibility of NC homeschoolers is at stake.

Oct 14, 2013

DNPE Suspends Homeschool Visits

NCHE received the following information from the North Carolina Division of Non-Public Education Director, David Mills.

It has come to my attention that the effort to make a small sampling of homeschool visits is not well understood by homeschoolers. Today, as of October 14, 2013, I do not plan to do any more after the initial five I have already contacted.  

The homeschool visits are not anything new. I visited homeschools by the thousands during my first five years in the office of Non Public Education, at their homeschool, which was most likely their residence. I have been with the Non Public Education office for approximately 28 years. The initial visits were all conducted without incidence and gave homeschools good reasonable visibility. All records checked were kept confidential according to Chapter 115C-174.13. The homeschool visits were conducted according to Part 3 of Article 39 that defined homeschools and required that they operate under the qualifications of either Part 1 or 2 of Article 39. Part 3 of Article 39 was added in the 1987-1988 legislative session and waived the need for homeschools to have an annual sanitation and fire inspection. It added the requirement that the persons providing academic instruction in the homeschool have at least a high school diploma or its equivalent, also that test requirements in G.S. 115C-549 and G.S. 115C-557 shall be on an annual basis. The G.S. of 115C-549 and G.S. of 115C-557 states that each school shall make and maintain records of the results achieved by its students. For one year after the testing, all records shall be made available, subject to G.S. 115C-174.13 at the principal office of such school, at all reasonable times, for annual inspection by a duly authorized representative of the State of North Carolina.

The desire in conducting a sampling of homeschool visits, at the principal office, was to cause less inconvenience and give greater credibility to North Carolina homeschoolers. This homeschool sampling effort, in my opinion, (I am not an attorney), was more in line with what the requirements of Article 39 set forth.

I hope this helps clarify my position on what was being attempted. Non Public Education will now communicate through electronic means and conduct record review sessions. I apologize for any misconceptions given to any of the many homeschool families in North Carolina.

Warmest regards,

 David Mills, Non Public Education

Oct 8, 2013
Sports

NCHEAC to Offer Fencing

NCHE is excited to announce that NCHE Athletic Commission (NCHEAC) is starting a fencing league as of fall 2013 with a league tournament in February.

Fencing has been growing in popularity for a number of years. There have been homeschooled students playing on recreation teams and competing against public schools for several years. NCHE is pleased to say that we are now able to offer this sport its own league through the NCHEAC.

There are currently coaches in place for Buncombe County, Durham County, Forsyth County, Guilford County, New Hanover County and Surry County.

If you are interested in fencing in your area, please contact us, and we will try to help find someone to get you started. We look forward to the sport growing even more!

If you need more information, please contact the NCHEAC fencing league coordinator:
Tammy Reid (Lady Aine O Grienan) at twolfpax@yahoo.com

 

In other NCHEAC news:

NCHEAC cross country meet is October 19 in Winston-Salem. Contact is Ernest Hodges at rehabpa@aol.com, (336) 918-9143.

NCHEAC swim meet is Saturday, February 8, 2014.  You can register a team or compete as an individual through the registration deadline of January 15, 2014 by filling out a registration form at: www.ncheac.com.

 

Oct 2, 2013

DNPE to Renew Homeschool Visitation

NCHE has learned that DNPE director, David Mills, has randomly selected 5 homeschools for home inspection. These homeschools received a letter informing them that David Mills planned to spend 30 minutes with them, inspecting their attendance, immunization and standardized test records and addressing any questions concerning compliance with NC homeschool law. The letter gave a date and time for the visit but also provided for the homeschool to call and offer alternative dates and times.

NCHE President Kevin McClain spoke with David Mills, who was recently named director after serving DNPE for nearly 30 years, by phone about the home inspection initiative. According to Director Mills, the home inspection practice, as permitted in the law, was a regular practice in the late 80s and that it was the original goal of department that every homeschool in the state be visited. According to Mills, in the 80s he visited thousands of homes in his DNPE role. However, as homeschooling in NC grew, the department's resources made home inspection impractical. Therefore, the department pursued other programs, including inspection my mail and local area visits. These programs were voluntary as they are not prescribed by law.

According to Article 39 of chapter 115C of the General Statutes, sections 115C-549, 115C-557, 115C-563 and 115C-564, homeschools are to make required records available upon visitation by a "duly authorized representative" to the "principal's office." NCHE believes that DNPE is carrying out their duty in inspecting the records. We encourage NC home educators to respectually interact with DNPE officials. However, if you are not comfortable with DNPE officials in your home, because of the 4th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution, you may refuse to let them into your home. However, you are required to meet them at your home and let them inspect the records.  According to Mills, there is no penalty for not complying with the inspection.

Mills communicated that the DNPE office has received numerous inquiries regarding the accountability of NC homeschoolers and DNPE's fulfillment of its duties regarding NC homeschools.

Director Mills communicated that his goal to help NC homeschools by using the limited resources available to him to carry out the duties of the department.

The inspection of a random sampling of NC homeschools demonstrates that DNPE is actively serving NC citizens and that NC homeschools know and understand the requirements of the law.

Sep 17, 2013

Mills Appointed Director of Division of Non-Public Education

NCHE is pleased to announce that Mr. David Mills has been promoted to be the new Director of the Division of Non-Public Education. 

Mr. Mills began his work for the state when he was hired by Governor Jim Martin’s staff in 1986 to work in the Division of Non-Public Education, which was formerly housed under the Governor’s Office. Since then, Mr. Mills has worked for the Division for the last 27 years.

Many on the NCHE board of directors have worked with Mr. Mills through the years and have found him to be a friend to homeschoolers. We look forward to working with him in his new position.

Read the announcement on the NC DNPE website. 

Sep 10, 2013
Conferences

Sean McDowell to Speak at 2014 Conference

NCHE is excited to announce that Sean McDowell will be one of the featured speakers at the 2014 Annual Conference.

Sean McDowell is a gifted communicator with a passion for reaching the younger generation with the Gospel message. He connects with youth in a tangible way through humor and stories while imparting hard evidence and logical support for viewing all areas of life through a biblical worldview. He serves as head of the Bible department at Capistrano Valley Christian Schools where he teaches philosophy, theology and apologetics.

As a high school teacher, Sean has exceptional insight into the prevailing culture and imparts his observations poignantly to fellow educators, pastors and parents alike. In 2008 he received the Educator of the Year award for San Juan Capistrano, California. His apologetics training was awarded Exemplary Status by the Association of Christian Schools International. Sean is listed among the top 100 apologists. He graduated summa cum laude from Talbot Theological Seminary with a double master’s degree in theology and philosophy. He is pursuing a Ph.D. in apologetics and worldview studies from Southern Baptist Theological Seminary.

Traveling throughout the United States and abroad, Sean speaks at camps, churches, schools, universities and conferences. He has spoken for organizations including Focus on the Family, the Chuck Colson Center for Christian Worldview, Campus Crusade for Christ, Youth Specialties, Fellowship of Christian Athletes and the Association of Christian Schools International. Sean has also appeared as a guest on radio shows such as Focus on the Family, Point of View, Converse with Scholars, Stand to Reason.

Sean recently released GodQuest, a six-week DVD-based curriculum complete with fiction and non-fiction books and a workbook. He is the co-author of Is God Just a Human Invention?,Understanding Intelligent Design along with William A. Dembski, Experience Your Bible, The Unshakable Truth: How You Can Experience the Twelve Essentials of a Relevant FaithEvidence for the Resurrection and More Than a Carpenter with his father, Josh McDowell. Sean is the general editor for Apologetics for a New Generation and The Apologetics Study Bible for Students. He has also writtenEthix: Being Bold in a Whatever World and has contributed to YouthWorker JournalDecision Magazineand the Christian Research Journal. Follow the dialogue with Sean as he blogs regularly at www.conversantlife.com.

In April, 2000, Sean married his high school sweetheart, Stephanie. They have three children and live in San Juan Capistrano, California. Sean played college basketball at Biola University and was the captain his senior year on a team that went 30-7. He likes to brag about his ping-pong skills.

Sep 2, 2013
Press

NCHE President Interviewed Regarding Call for Increased Homeschool Oversight

NCHE President Kevin McClain is quoted in a WSOC-TV(9)/TV64 Charlotte segment regarding the announcement made by the biological mother of a missing Rowan county girl, Erica Parsons, that she would advocate for modifications to North Carolina's homeschool law. 

The segment began airing September 2nd.

The segment is viewable online for the general public. A full transcript of the segment is also available.

To access the segment and transcript, go to WSOC-TV: Biological mother of Erica Parsons announces push for new law named 'Erica'.

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Related: The Accountability of Home Educators

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Support NCHE's homeschool advocacy efforts.

Aug 26, 2013
Conferences

Todd Wilson to Speak at 2014 Conference

NCHE is excited to announce that Todd Wilson will be one of the featured speakers at the 2014 Annual Conference.

​Todd Wilson, author of Lies Homeschooling Moms Believe, Help! I’m Married to a Homeschooling Mom, and The Official Book of Homeschooling Cartoons, is a dad, writer, conference speaker and former pastor. Todd’s humor and gut-honest realness have made him a favorite speaker at homeschool conventions across the country and a guest on Focus on the Family.

As founder of Familyman Ministries, his passion and mission are to remind dads and moms of what’s most important through a weekly email for dads, seminars and books that encourage parents.

Todd and his wife, Debbie, homeschool their eight children in northern Indiana and travel around America in the Familyman mobile. You can visit Familyman Ministries at www.familymanweb.com.