Thursday, April 23, 2009

Homeless? Check Yes or No

Different states have different rules regarding homeschooling. Hawaii requires that you register your children with the school system and then officially withdraw them. That way they have a record of a child within their district who is not attending their school.

I don't question, I just accept.

I filled out the forms and mailed them in. Each of my kids would be attending a different school here, so I had to send in three different forms to three different schools declaring, "Here is the child I am not sending to your school."

Today I got back a form from Emily's school....mailed to me at my address....wanting to know whether or not we are homeless.

I have never been given a form where I had to check boxes for "Homeless" or "Not Homeless". It even gives guidelines on what qualifies as homeless in case you are not certain. You know, in case you are thinking, "Well, this cardboard box may not be much but it is 'home' to me, so I'm going to check 'Not Homeless'."

One definition states, "children and youth who have a primary nighttime residence that is a public or private place not designed for or ordinarily used as a regular sleeping accommodation for human beings."

The one after that says, "children and youth who are living in cars, parks, public spaces, abandoned buildings, substandard housing, bus or train stations, or similar settings".

Really? It has to be spelled out that clearly? People who live in a car, or a bus station, need it defined for them that they are homeless? I wonder if the school has received very many calls saying, "Well, we stay in this abandoned building - until someone finds out we're here that is - so should we check 'Homeless' or 'Not Homeless'?"

And why would I be homeschooling my child if I was homeless? Wouldn't it make more sense to send them to school for the day where they could get fed and I could crawl out of my cardboard box and go, say, hunt for a job?

I know these questions are asked because sometime in the past something has actually happened to make this information necessary. There was probably a lawsuit and some lawyer saying, "At no time did they ask if the homeschooler had a home to be schooled in! Shame!"

So I have dutifully filled out the form stating that we do indeed have a home and I am using actual books and not just drawing pictures in the sand in order to teach my kids.

Don't question. Just accept.


  1. That's CRAZY! I forgot about different state regs for homeschooling. UGH! I'm glad we are here! Glad you aren't homeless :)

  2. It saddens me, but I understand perfectly why these questions are asked. One merely needs to get outside of the "vacation paradise" that everyone assumes Hawai'i to be 24/7 and take a ride to the Waianae side of O'ahu. Lualualei is Tent City. As a homeschooler, you may tire of always having to defend your decision to educate your children yourself, but as a Native Hawaiian, I grow weary of always having to explain to Mainlanders that just because we say we're from Hawai'i, it doesn't mean we live a privileged life. We have impoverished areas, drug problems, children who are homeless, and parents who don't have the luxury of choosing whether or not they get to homeschool. I don't mean to sound mean, but some of your comments really struck a cord in me and seemed to lack a bit of compassion for the whole reason this form exists. I doubt that it was "sometime in the past". It goes on every single day in the islands. If you haven't seen it, then you're doing what all the "transplants" there do..ignoring it and pretending it doesn't exist.

    You are lucky and have a rare opportunity that many mothers don't have (myself included). And you seem to do a great job of it. Your children look bright, happy, and well-adjusted. But in your quest to provide the best education for your children, are you remembering to teach them about the richness of the culture and the beauty of the native people they are fortunate enough to live among? While you move from place to place as a military family (I was a Navy Brat), do you make sure that they are enriched with cultural knowledge and not just reading, writing, and the other basics? Sometimes, a stick in the sand can be as valueable a teaching tool as books. Especially when that's all you might have.

    Growing up, my uncle always told me and my siblings; "Always do what you can with what you have. Even if you only have manini (little)." That's something you don't learn from a book.