Idaho parents love the time they
get with kids -- by schooling them at home
By MJ Henshaw
May 8, 2008 | Most mothers look forward to the end
of summer vacation. They get to send their children
back to school, which means they finally get some alone
time after months of having children around the house.
This is something that isn't appealing to Jamie Durfee.
Durfee is a mother of eight children and president
of the Statesmanship Institute of Idaho, a homeschooling
group based in Preston. She has homeschooled or is currently
homeschooling all of her children. She said one of the
main reasons she doesn't send her children to public
schools is because she loves being able to spend time
"My oldest son went to public school for about a year
and I didn't like having him gone all the time," Durfee
said. "There were so many things I wanted to do with
my children and so many things I wanted to teach them,
that it just bothered me that the school was taking
all that time."
Not only did Durfee miss her children, but she felt
that as a mother, she had the responsibility of teaching
"I feel that I have stewardship over my children.
It's my job to raise them and teach them," Durfee said.
"There are so many things that I want them to learn
and understand, and so many experiences I want them
to have. I just don't want them to spend their time
in a brick classroom with no windows for 8 hours a day."
The SII is a homeschooling group of 75 children and
their parents. Each Thursday they meet together at a
Presbyterian church in Preston to hold classes and let
the children interact with each other.
"The biggest complaint of home schooled teens is the
lack of social environment. I think when we meet as
a group, it tends to meet that need," Durfee said.
The children are broken into age groups. Teens ages
12 to 18 meet from 11:30 a.m. to 3 p.m. and the younger
children meet from 1 to 3 p.m. Durfee said that the
group follows, what she calls, Jefferson or Classical
education. They had a certain curriculum they follow
each year, for each of the age groups. Generally they
will read a book a month and spend time each week discussing
it. Every other week they have group activities which
give the kids a chance to learn in different ways through
various activities. Usually the students have a say
on which books they would like to study.
Homeschooling has become a growing trend all around
the nation. According to the U.S. Department of Education,
more than one million kids are homeschooled nationwide.
Each state has it's owns laws pertaining to homeschooling.
"In Idaho you don't have to register with the state
if you are homeschooling your children," Durfee explains.
"There is no contract or anything but you're still obligated
to make sure your child is educated."
According to the Home School Legal Defense Association,
Idaho is one of 10 states that have low regulation,
which means that Idaho doesn't require parents to initiate
any contract with the state if they choose to homeschool.
Other states such as Washington require more.
Jennifer Wallis, who has homeschooled her children
for almost 15 years and is the vice-president of SII,
began teaching her children when she lived in Washington.
Wallis said that in Washington a mother needed to have
a college degree or some level of training in order
to teach her children. Wallis, who has a bachelor's
degree in French, feels she is just as qualified to
teach her children as anybody else.
"As my children have grown-up and as I've had experiences
with the public school systems I think I can do just
as good a job as they are doing. I am just as qualified
to teach my own children, if not more, than the public
school teachers," Wallis said.
Credentials of homeschool-mothers are recently something
the state of California is addressing. In March the
2nd Appellate Court in Los Angeles ruled that most homeschooling
in California is illegal. This ruling could eventually
subject the parents of 166,000 homeschooled students
to criminal charges.
Justice H. Walter Croskey of the 2nd Appellate Court
said, "California courts have held that ... parents
do not have a constitutional right to homeschool their
Colleen Darley, a current Utah State University student,
agrees with this decision. Darley grew up in southern
California and was homeschooled from grades 5 to 8.
"When I was done with fourth grade my dad got this
crazy idea that the government was trying to brain wash
all the kids in America by putting them through the
public school system, so he pulled me and my two siblings
out of school and we had our mom teach us," Darley explains.
"To be honest, homeschool was more like a five-year
vacation. I didn't learn anything. I hated being homeschooled."
Justice Croskey then went on to explain that the primary
purpose of the education system is to "train school
children in good citizenship, patriotism and loyalty
to the state and the nation as means of protecting the
Lloyd Porter, a member of the California Teachers
Association board of directors, also added, "We always
think students should be taught by credentialed teachers,
no matter what the setting." Wallis response to this,
"If you love learning and you're dedicated to continue
learning through the years, then you are qualified."
Durfee and Wallis also said that they have an advantage
over public schools teachers because they know their
children better, they can cater to their needs easier
and it's easier for the kids to learn on a one on one
However, this doesn't mean they are totally against
public schools. Durfee said that when most kids reach
high school they usually want to participate in some
of the classes they offer and clubs they have.
"I think most of us view the public school as a tool
that is available if we choose to use it," Durfee said.
"But I will admit in my own personal opinion and with
my experience, it's really hard to have your foot in
both worlds. It is a hard transition to be involved
in both things because you don't quite fit in one or
Durfee also said that sometimes it's hard for homeschool
students to transition into the public schools because
they aren't there full time so public school students
may not see them as part of the group.
Darley said that by the time she got to high school,
the transition took a little getting used to. She said
she felt that being homeschooled had impaired her.
"By the time I got back to public school I was behind
most of the kids I went to school with. I was behind
both socially and educationally. I had to hire tutors
in reading and math. I didn't fit in with the kids right
away. Even in college I am still feeling the effect
of it as far as school goes," Darley said.
This isn't the case for all college-bound homeschoolers.
Wallis said her daughter, a freshman at USU, scored
so high on the ACT that she was awarded a two-year scholarship.
Wallis credits that to her homeschooled education.
According to SII mothers, being a homeschool parent
isn't easy. Some may ask, how do these mothers continue
to do it day in and day out? The answer is simple, "This
is something you have to not only want to do, but you
have love to do it," Wallis said. "And I love doing
Durfee agreed in saying, "It's something that I absolutely
love doing. Over the course of all the years I've done
this, I have so much fun and I have a great relationship
with my children. The things we have learned together
are immeasurable and I wouldn't trade them for anything."
CBN.com reported that after much scrutiny from homeschoolers
and the governor of California, as of April 28, the
courts in California have decided to re-hear the homeschooling