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A Brief History of Homeschooling in Maryland

About MHEA

About Manfred Smith

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  A Brief History of Homeschooling in Maryland

Though home education may seem like a new idea to many, it has been the primary means of learning since the dawn of time. Even as little as a century ago, most children did most of their learning at home including famous Americans like Abraham Lincoln, the Wright Brothers, and Thomas Edison. Although the State eventually forced most children out of the home and into schools through the enactment of compulsory attendance laws, home education has made a strong resurgence within the past decade to include over 1,000,000 families nationally.

Home education as a movement began in 1977 when education critic John Holt published a newsletter he called, "Growing Without Schooling". Discouraged with the school reform efforts he had been part of, he decided to encourage parents who were dissatisfied with public or private education to teach their children at home.

The movement gathered momentum when John appeared on the Phil Donahue show in the early '80's and hundreds of families wrote in to learn more. His publication still serves as a national clearinghouse for the movement.

In late 1979 three Maryland families interested in home education met in Columbia to give each other support. By Spring of 1980 the Maryland Home Education Association was formed and three families grew to include more than twenty.

In 1983 the Miller trial established the legality of home education. This decision was immediately followed by a series of very restrictive regulations issued by the Maryland State Department of Education.

What followed was three years of creative resistance by home educators. Most families simply went underground to educate their children. In 1986 MHEA, several home educators and the Family Protection Lobby took our case to the legislature. Although our legislative bill failed in the closing hour of the Maryland Assembly, the political impact of our legislative effort resulted in the negotiation of new home education regulations.

Today Maryland has favorable home education regulations which offers significant latitude for parents and sufficient "safeguards" for state officials. More than 13,000 families are educating their children at home in this state.

There are support groups in every part of Maryland with new groups forming all the time. Some support groups form along specialized lines. Families with similar Christian views, ethnic backgrounds, or challenges (single parents, learning problems) are forming groups to support their needs. But no matter what group you may ultimately belong to, it's important to keep an open attitude to different views and approaches so that you can provide the optimum learning experience for your children.


  About MHEA

MHEA was founded in 1980 to serve and support families of all religious, philosophical and ethnic persuasions. For over seventeen years MHEA has been working for all homeschoolers -- members and non-members alike. For a modest $15 fee which has not increased since 1984, members receive much more for their money than a modest newsletter. There are numerous hidden services that are vital to the interests to all families:

Legislative Monitor -- MHEA keeps an eye on developments in the State Department of Education and the Maryland legislature for any changes in attitudes and policies regarding home education. MHEA has been on the front lines organizing resistance and fighting for homeschooling since its inception in 1980. From the court defense of the Miller family in 1983 to the development of the current by-law which recognizes and simplifies home schooling in Maryland, MHEA has been a leading force in Maryland. But threats remain. Every so often we have had to defeat legislation designed to upset the regulations that we fought so hard for in the past. As Jefferson said, "The price for freedom is eternal vigilance".

Accurate Information -- We provide you with up-to-date accurate information regarding changes around the state, local groups, resources, and laws relating to home education. We are also a leader in pioneering educational methods and approaches. We continue to stay abreast of current philosophies and ideas that have an impact upon your educational program, challenging any that are counterproductive to the education and welfare of our children.

Accessible -- Organized and operated by a home schooling family, MHEA is committed to providing long term service and support for home educators regardless of political or religious orientation or Association membership. You are encouraged to call us; we're as easy to reach as your phone. We talk with people all time offering support, guidance, and general information -- at no charge.

Bringing People Together -- Part of our mission is to help people connect. There are local coordinators in every Maryland county who are able to help you with local matters, so we'll get you where you want to go. MHEA also sponsors an annual regional conferences and resource fair offering a wide varieties of useful workshops featuring homeschooling luminaries like David Colfax, John Gatto, Nancy Plent, Pat Farenga, and Gail Withrow. Consistent with our mission to help all families, our conferences include a wide mix of traditional and non-traditional materials, workshops, and approaches. You definitely want to plan to attend.


  About Manfred Smith

Manfred is an award-winning, retired Maryland public school teacher with 43 years of experience in the field of alternative education.

Manfred's passion for educational alternatives grew beyond the confines of the traditional classroom to have a much wider impact when he established the Maryland Home Education Association in 1980.  He coordinated the legal defense of homeschooling parents and led Maryland's legislative efforts, playing a decisive role in shaping Maryland's home education laws.  He is a prime mover, who has organized conferences, led workshops, and who remains in perennial demand as a speaker.  Manfred is also the executive director of The Learning Community International School, a private school which operates a satellite program offering an individualized approach to living and learning.

Besides his efforts on behalf of homeschooling families, Manfred also worked in the public schools as a social studies teacher (since 1971) where he has a reputation of being anything but traditional in his approach to teaching.


  Contact Information


9085 Flamepool Way, Columbia, MD 21045

410-730-0073 voice mail 410-964-5720 fax

Email: MSmith@mhea.com



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