Dear Homeschool Louisiana Families,
First of all, thank you for the honor and privilege of serving you this past year! If not for your prayers and financial support through your local homeschool organization, we could not represent your needs as homeschoolers to legislators, policy makers, government officials and community leaders. As the late Billy Graham said, “salvation is free but ministry costs money.” Although our mission focuses on protecting, promoting, and providing support to current and future homeschoolers in Louisiana, make no mistake, we are a Christian ministry! As volunteers, we couldn’t do the work that God has called us to do for struggling and hurting families if we didn’t have your help and support.
As we look forward to the possibilities in 2018, I think it is extremely Important to look back at all the accomplishments in 2017. As many of you know, in late September we proceeded with a name change from CHEF of Louisiana to Homeschool Louisiana. Though nothing changed with our long term mission, we knew that changing our name and subsequent website and social media platforms, we could fulfill our ministry to the homeschooling community in Louisiana. In this crazy busy world we live in, if people can’t find you on their mobile devices, you don’t really exist. As you probably already know, finding and accessing information has changed drastically from a telephone book, to a computer and now to mobile devices. Within a couple of months of making that name change, we shot up to the first page on Yahoo and Bing just below the LDOE’s website. In fact, and we are getting numerous inquiries from families looking for more information on how to homeschool to businesses that are looking to advertise to homeschoolers. Below is a list of accomplishments we had in 2017 and the direction we will be taking in 2018.
HIGHLIGHTS OF 2017
Defeated bills that would have restricted your homeschool freedoms and made your private information publicly accessible in the past legislative session.
Hosted regional one-day homeschool mini-conferences in Shreveport and Lafayette in April and May
In September, we met with Woody Jenkins who authored the homeschooling bill in 1980 and Brenda Teepell who spearheaded the TOPS funding for homeschoolers back in 1997 and other CHEF of LA past presidents to get a historical perspective on homeschooling and their wisdom on where homeschooling will be in the future.
Designed and created a new SEO and mobile friendly website with an emphasis on reaching new homeschoolers and families interested in Homeschooling through our social media platforms
In September, we attended the annual Alliance and HSLDA meetings in Colorado Springs with over 40 other state homeschool organizations in attendance. Much of the discussions were in regards to the changing times that we are living in and diminished role and extinction that many state conventions are facing due to a lack of attendance, skyrocketing costs, a lack of volunteers, increased competition with for profit homeschool conferences such as the Great Homeschool Convention and Teach Them Diligently and most importantly, how information and support is received today through social media. Also, strategies were developed on what state organizations can do to have a lasting impact on current and future homeschool families.
One of the major impacts of collaborating with other state homeschool organizations at the national conference was our first ever FREE online Homeschool Discipleship Summit in November. This endeavor was a partnership with the Colorado State Homeschool Organization and Generations Ministry. We had over 250 families in Louisiana participate online and we are expecting greater things for this year.
In November, we had a Meeting with state legislator Beryl Amedee and other non-chef affiliated homeschool leaders to address educational concerns such as ESAs and improper wording located in the online homeschool registration Box Check form that would tie homeschoolers to state requirements and standards in November. Unfortunately, that language is still present, and we recommend that families continue to use the paper registration if they register as an approved homestudy until we get things straightened out with the Louisiana Department of Education.
As we moved forward into 2018, we started quickly with a very successful one-day homeschool mini-conference in New Orleans that was in conjunction with national school choice week. That mini-conference coincided with our first ever special needs educational track put on by Peggy Ployer and her organization SPED Homeschool from Houston, TX.
ACTIVITIES FOR 2018
We plan to have multiple meetings with legislators and educational committee members during this legislative session to establish our presence as a state organization and to distinguish ourselves by building bridges to those that misunderstand homeschooling. By doing so, we can create allies that can protect our homeschool freedoms so they can be advocates against those who stereotype and discriminate against homeschool families.
One of the exciting things we are doing we will be working with Rep. Beryl Amedee in proposing a new Parent Taught Drivers Education bill that will benefit not only homeschooling families but every family that is looking to gain some parental authority to train and teach their children driving skills.
We will be launching the Homeschool Legacy Project that will create a historical video about the sacrifices, struggles and successes of homeschooling since it’s inception to educate the public so they will know the facts about homeschooling and can be better informed when making any educational choices.
We plan to have customized regional homeschool conferences that would be on a rotational basis (north and south) every 6 months to better reach families exploring the option of homeschooling and to support homeschool families that are looking for additional help.
In closing, be on the lookout for a special homeschool family survey to fill out. We are looking to be more proactive in finding out your homeschooling needs so we can create real solutions to positively impact your homeschool experience and glorify God while doing it. May God richly bless your sacrifice as you educate and disciple your children as we protect, promote, and provide support in the growth of Christian Home Education in our state!
Soli Deo Gloria