May 3, 2016
Intrusive Home Visits in Manitoba reveal the ongoing need for HSLDA
HSLDA Canada is a non-profit, national homeschool organization that monitors educational policies that affect homeschoolers across Canada. Should issues arise that compromise homeschoolers’ rights and freedoms, HSLDA advocates on their behalf at every level of government. Because of HSLDA’s long-standing presence and reputation in the field, they have become a recognized and respected voice for homeschoolers across Canada.
Additionally, HSLDA provides another layer of support exclusively for its members. More than the general benefit of being a homeschooler under the watch of a national advocate, HSLDA members also have case-specific defence available to them. Now HSLDA is not only speaking to homeschooling issues broadly, but is also speaking to the very pressing needs of individual families.
A recent example of HSLDA’s work on behalf of homeschoolers comes out of Manitoba.
There is one central homeschooling office in Manitoba. Because of this, HSLDA worked to maintain a positive relationship with the homeschooling office. The homeschooling office has also worked to understand and to serve homeschoolers. What has historically been a congenial relationship between homeschoolers, HSLDA, homeschool support groups, and the Ministry of Education homeschool liaison has begun to sour in recent years. HSLDA became aware of unsolicited home visits being insisted upon by an education ministry official. Because of the good relationship that existed between the homeschooling office and homeschoolers, many families, on a no pressure or obligation basis, have agreed to home visits in the past. This has been in the spirit of cooperation and in an effort to help the homeschooling office understand homeschoolers. Over the last couple of years, the government officials have become increasingly insistent about home visits being a requirement. This, of course, is seen as an unnecessary intrusion and one that HSLDA sought to dismiss.
Because of the ongoing relationship between HSLDA, the provincial support groups, and the Manitoba Ministry of Education, cooperative conversations were had where HSLDA was able to defend its members’ rights to homeschool without such scrutiny. Over many conversations and meetings, concerns on both sides were raised about the perceived ‘rightness’ of these visits. HSLDA has earned a position of influence in matters like this, and so were listened to. After many meetings and consultations, the Ministry of Education has agreed that home visits are not a requirement. In theory, these unsolicited home visits were meant to cease.
Unfortunately, many homeschooling families in Manitoba are still receiving phone calls from the homeschool liaison requesting home visits.
As you can see, HSLDA has been working behind the scenes with government officials on the behalf of homeschoolers for many, many years. Now, as these individual families continue to receive intrusive phone calls and visits, they are looking to HSLDA to defend them specifically. As mentioned before, HSLDA is a non-profit organization that operates in a membership model. Membership fees are collectively used to support and to defend individual HSLDA members and to broadly support homeschooling nationally. Non-members in Manitoba are left to answer the homeschool liaison on their own.
As a homeschooler in Canada, you are already benefitting from the broad legal expertise of HSLDA speaking on your behalf and working in areas of influence to which the general population simply does not have access. However, as government intrusions like these home visits increase, your need for individual, specific counsel could also increase. Membership with HSLDA has many benefits, not the least of which is having the peace of mind of legal defence available to you should a homeschool liaison or government official overstep their boundaries, as is happening in Manitoba.
For more information about how HSLDA equips, empowers, and protects homeschoolers like you, and to become a member, please contact our office.