Thanks for your comments, folks. From what I have heard from other homeschooling families in Taiwan, the regulation of homeschooling differs greatly across counties. For example, here in Taipei County we have four home visits from the school each year and only the teacher and the counselor, and sometimes only the teacher, comes to visit. A family in Taidong told me they were having 12-15 people showing up at their house for these visits. So, there the rule is: the school shall make home visits each semester, but how that rule is executed makes a big difference. One to two people coming for a casual visit is tolerable, 12-15 is ridiculous and intrusive (seems like they are just coming to gawk at the foreigners).

 Taipei City and Taipei County handle assessment in basically the same way. The City/County sets up the assessment day. Homeschooling families are divided up by household location and scheduled to meet in groups of 4 families with members of the homeschooling committee (the panel members). The student presents, the panel members look at the materials the student has brought in, there may be time for the parents to talk a bit about what the student has been working on this year, then the panel asks questions and makes comments. In Taipei City the panel seemed to give the families a pass/fail response right on the day, while in Taipei County the pass/fail notice is sent out later. I don’t know how much weight Assessment Day has in determining pass or fail in Taipei County. Our school teacher says they go completely by the teacher’s recommendation, so it makes you wonder why we all have to go through this…

I have often wondered what would happen if, from the beginning, our daughter just didn’t go to school, or petition for homeschooling approval and just use the rationale that she holds a foreign passport so she doesn’t have to go to school. We didn’t ever seriously consider that because we wanted to do things by the books. My husband felt better  about doing it by the books, otherwise he felt like we were sneaking around. And this way it is much easier to justify to my in-laws: I just tell them Kaylen is registered with the school and if it is ok with the teachers and the county and the Education Bureau then it should be ok for them. So, that was the right choice for our family. Other families might not care about doing things by the books and find the county oversight too intrusive, so not petitioning is the right choice for them.

I was also surprised to find a religious perspective being expressed by a member of the panel. It seems the homeschooling committee is trying to bring in people other than school teachers or principals, so have a couple homeschooling parents on the committee. This woman is a veteran homeschooler having homeschooled 5 of her own. Probably most of the “veteran” homeschoolers in Taiwan are Christians as they were the earliest group pushing for the right to homeschool. I almost fell over when I heard her say, “And remember moms, a happy mom makes a happy household!” But I have to say she looked like she was infused by the holy spirit or something, her face was all lit up and she exuded all this energy, she has one of those round, shiny foreheads like Xu Zhenchang and Chen Shuibian that sends out a beam of light…

Another thing that happened was that the panel was wondering how they could be of service in arranging networking activities and get-togethers for homeschooling families. We all declined the need, said we could take care of it ourselves. I find it strange that the county would offer to take on this task; in the US the attitude is, you have rejected the public school system, you go set up your own damn network if you need it.  And, who would want another level of county involvement anyway? Just introduces another area for them to control.

 POI: The Organization to Promote Independent Learning based in Taipei is holding their annual meeting this Saturday afternoon. Check out their webite for info: http://www.alearn.org.tw/

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