For the record, the superintendent of the Wallowa County Education Service District – Karen Patton – says about 80 students are registered in the county as home-school students and the number of unregistered home-school students here is unknown.

Prior to giving her official response, however, Patton suggested there may be many children being home-schooled locally who aren’t registered.

This, of course, highlights a problem because, by Oregon law, parents not only are mandated to register the names of any children ages 7 through 18 they wish to home school, but record that registration within 10 days of starting such schooling.

That same 10-day limit applies to parents wishing to withdraw their children from home schooling situations as well as parents moving their home-schooled children to another school district.

Lorraine Swift, of Wallowa, says she and husband Jan began studying the ramifications of home schooling 30 years ago and since have educated all five of their natural children and two of their three adopted children in their home. The youngest of the eight will graduate and move on in life after his upcoming senior year at Wallowa High School.

“We primarily decided to home school so we could teach our children about our faith,” says Lorraine Swift.

Not only does the Christian religion being banned from public schools bother Lorraine and Jan Swift, but Lorraine takes her thoughts about public schools one step further. She says, “If I wanted my kids to be socialists I would send them to public schools.”

For some unknown reason, finding additional parents in Wallowa County who are home-schooling their children proved difficult. Known parents who home school their children could not be reached at home, possibly because it’s summer and not home-schooling season. In addition, tight regulations prevent Patton from sharing even one of the 80 names she has in her books.

Imnaha schoolteacher Shari Warnock is of the opinion that many families in that remote community 30 miles east of Joseph home school their children but, like Patton, says she cannot release names.

The primary reasons for parents to home school their children, she believes following conversations she’s had with parents in the Imnaha area, are that some parents simply like to spend as much time as possible with their children and also, as with the Swifts, because of religious reasons.

A relatively new means of educating children, between public schools and home schooling, can be accomplished by purchasing public-school-at-home programs over the Internet.

Many parents who home school their children shy away from this approach, thinking many of the purposes of home schooling in the first place would be nullified. Lorraine Swift says parents who home school their children have total freedom in selecting curriculum for their children to study, something that neither happens in conventional public schools or online public schools.

Patton says, by law, that home school students must be tested at the third, fifth, eighth, and tenth grade levels to provide a semblance of accountability.

For home-schooled students wishing to participate in school activities such as drama or sports the bar is much higher, meaning those students must be tested annually.

Basic classes such as math, writing, reading, computer keyboarding, and research are covered in the Swift classroom. Lorraine says they like to include such literature classics as Treasure Island, Robinson Crusoe, and The Count of Monte Cristo in their curriculum.

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