Welcome to the homepage for the Tampa Bay Homeschool Empowerment Webring!

This is the homepage for the Tampa Bay Homeschool Empowerment webring. Member groups and individuals will share, via their websites, blogs or email lists, information about: *legislative issues and commensurate opportunities to take action; community learning opportunities; *available homeschool support groups, both new and established; *Cooperative groups; *Collaborative groups; *"Red flag", or issues of concern, in various counties or areas; And any other networking, resource sharing or information sharing that might be helpful to one another. This is not a conversation or debate site, nor a commercial site, but an information clearinghouse for the benefit of area home educators. Working together, Tampa Bay area homeschoolers can be an informed and educated community of decision makers, empowered to speak out on our own behalf and to help keep homeschooling a strong and viable educational choice for all. To join this webring, click here . To see a list of members, click here .

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

LIFE Fest 2010 Home and Informal Education Conference Program Online

The program for LIFE Fest 2010 is online and freely available. 

We've got an exciting program on tap for Saturday, September 18th, at the Orange County Extension Education Center, and we hope you'll join us for a full day of fun and learning together. 

Childcare is available for the day for just $20, and we have a wealth of enriching program content, plenty of hands on opportunities for all ages, and a great collection of raffle and door prize items.

Check out the LIFE Fest 2010 Program and see how much fun you can have for $10 for the whole family!

Thursday, November 8, 2007

Calling all Tampa Bay area mentors! (That's YOU!)

Learning is for Everyone is compiling a Tampa Bay area Mentor directory – a MentorMatch, if you will, initially to support area homeschooled youth, but with the potential to help any child in Tampa simply wanting to know about something.

Our local homeschool groups are well stocked with a variety of experts, hobbyists, and professionals across a wide array of interests, abilities and fields. And while we're no doubt serving our own children well with our personal expertise, if we pooled our collective intelligences together, our kids could potentially have access to some powerful learning resources we can't achieve alone.

I'm not talking about a cooperative – although cooperatives necessarily include community expertise – but something more like a Mentoring collaborative; opportunities for apprenticeship and the tapping of insights and ideas from willing adults who have experience in areas in which our kids are interested.

I’m throwing my own name in the hat first. I’m a professional writer with more than 25 years of experience. I’m a freelance journalist for several newspapers; I’m a book author (The Food Allergy Field Guide: A Lifestyle Manual for Families); I’ve been a magazine writer (trade journals, Home Education Magazine, Life Learning and others); and as an editor (member of the editorial board of the Journal of School Choice).

Rather than running a class, which I've contemplated doing off and on (and have done in the past), I've concluded that it's not a "class" kids need when they have a particular interest, but the opportunity to spend *time* with someone who shares their interest.

Spending time with an expert mentor – once a week, once a month, for an occasional lunch out, or for a day with someone where he or she works – can:

1) Help guide interested kids in their learning and practice choices,
2) Connect them at the community level with respect to their interests,
3) Give them adult perspectives different from those in their own
4) And gives them a realistic, hands-on look at careers and interests.

Mentoring is also a more realistic way for experts to help – it's certainly less time consuming than teaching a class, it's more personal, and certainly potentially more meaningful and enduring. Just the fact that you're not working with a group, but more one on one makes it easier for kids to ask questions, and for experts to give more contextual replies and guidance.

So where am I going with all of this? I'm going to YOU.

What do you do? Whatever it is, you can rest assured that some child, somewhere in our homeschool community, is interested. If you're willing to act as a mentor to youth in our homeschool community – and you determine completely what that means with respect to your time and energy -- drop me a line with a short overview of your expertise and how you think you can help a child with your shared interest.

And think about people you know – tap them for their willingness to mentor youth. For teens, that might include a day with the mentor, or regular visits at work, or possibly apprenticeships. For younger children, you'd probably want to accompany them, or have the mentor over to your home.

We build the MentorMatch directory. You decide all the comfort levels and parameters.

And ask your kids what they'd really like to learn about, what they're interested in. You might think you know. You might not! Then post your “seeking mentor” request here.

And then we can take the whole thing even further with the online school I created recently:


Anyone can be a "faculty" member of the University of LIFE. "Courses" can be long or short – a resource list; a couple pages of instructional material about something; a paper; a how-to. You name it, and we can do it. It's extraordinarily easy to use Myicourse, and
it's completely free. I've got a rudimentary Earth Science course up there right now that you can look at . It's only the first unit, but it gives you an idea of what a course can look like.

The thing is, we can do so much more than we're doing, and we can much better utilize the human capital we've got in great abundance here.

So let me know what you think. Tell me what you do and how you can share it. Let's create a real learning *community* and set some real examples of home based learning success.

I'll take the first step: I write, and I'm happy to talk to your child about writing.

What about you?



Saturday, October 6, 2007

WUSF Florida Matters “Homeschooling” (October 5, 2007)

Recently, homeschooler Jacinta Sousa, of FL Homeschoolers, and Terri Willingham, of LIFE of Tampa, were invited to be part of a WUSF radio show on homeschooling. The program aired Friday night and will air again Sunday, Oct. 6, at 10AM. You can also hear the broadcast at the WUSF-Florida Matters website . Several local resources and groups are posted at the show's website.


It wasn't too long ago when the idea of modern home schooling was considered to be the province of hippies and fringe groups — and perhaps a few small religious groups. Not any more. It is most definitely mainstream.

Legalized in Florida in 1985, the number of students whose home room might very well be their living room has increased by up to 2,000 a year. At last count, nearly 56,000 students were being home schooled in Florida.

So why home school a child? Does it give students an academic edge? Do they lose out on the social experience of the traditional classroom setting? We’ll meet some of those parents and students who are among this growing trend on this week’s Florida Matters. Listen now

Guests: Jacinta Sousa - whose 8-year-old daughter Audra has been home-schooled her whole life.

Terri Willingham - whose family home-schooled for 14 years. Her 14-year-old son Chris and 17-year-old daughter Andrea join us too

Cathy Russell - Home Education Specialist, Office of Independent Education and Parental Choice, Florida Department of Education

--> Join WUSF's Carson Cooper for Florida Matters Friday evening at 6:00 PM, and Sunday morning at 10 AM, on WUSF 89.7, your NPR Station.

Thursday, September 6, 2007

The Future of Bright Futures

Recent news about the potentially shakey future of Bright Futures scholarships, a popular merit based program that can pay anything from 100% of community college tuition to 100% of university tuition, has prompted area families to inquire about its status. Information is difficult to come by, and its future difficult to predict, but LIFE of FL suggests you inform yourself about the latest arguments pro and con (see links below) and drop Governor Crist a line (http://www.flgov.com/contact_form ) with your thoughts, if Bright Futures is important to you, since he appears to be it's most influential supporter:


Additional articles/discussions:

http://www.orlandosentinel.com/news/columnists/orl-miket1407aug14,0,4172612.column (read through the comments, too)
http://www.topix.net/forum/source/orlando-sentinel/TR9CHVID9MSJM3NPQ http://www.sptimes.com/2007/07/24/Opinion/Bright_Futures_progra.shtml

(old – 2004, but interesting)

http://tinyurl.com/2rbjzy - even older, a 2003 rallying cry to "save
Bright Futures"

You can also visit the Board of Governors website for more information on anything related to the FL University system or additional contact information: http://www.flbog.org/ and http://www.flbog.org/BOG_regs/ to sign up for email updates regarding regulations changes.

Monday, August 13, 2007

Potential changes to college admission requirements for homeschoolers in FL

Homeschoolers recently noticed changes to college admissions requirements that seem to include acceptance recommendations for homeschoolers as well. Until recently, Florida Statute 1007.261 governed state university admission, specifically stating that home education students did not need to demonstrate completion of specific courses in order to be considered for admission to state colleges and universities.

Thanks to some research by a local home educator, we know the following:

The full text of the original statute can be found here: http://tinyurl.com/2w6eqmThis statute was repealed in the 2007 regular legislative session, and the home education statute (1002.41) was amended as follows:(8) Home education students are eligible for admission to stateuniversities in accordance with the policies and guidelines ofthe Board of Governors provisions of s.1007.261.

Full text of the session law is here:http://election.dos.state.fl.us/laws/07laws/ch_2007-217.pdf A 'proposal to propose' rule, titled 6C-6.002, has been located on the Florida Board of Governors website (http://www.flbog.org/bog/) that puts forth a minimum SAT score for home education students, and provides that colleges can require additional documentation from home education students. A portion of the text is below.Information about the proposed regulation and Thursday's BOG meeting in Tampa can be found here:http://tinyurl.com/2pevs2

This rule has not been published in Florida Administrative Weekly, yet, and as far as our intrepid homeschool researcher can tell, the upcoming meeting will approve it for publication.Snipped from Proposed 6C-6.002Undergraduate Admission of First-time,Degree-seeking Freshmen(3) Normally a high school diploma from a Florida public or regionally accredited high school, or its equivalent, shall be required for admission to a state university. Students completing a home education program according to Section 1002.41, F.S., are eligible for admission; however, each university may require additional documentation to verify student eligibility.

Students admitted under early admission in accordance with Board of Governors regulation are exempted from this requirement while they are classified as early admission students.(4)A student applying for admission who is participating in a non-traditional high school program must present credentials equivalent to those described in regulation as judged by the individual SUS institution to which the student has applied. A student whose high school educational program is not measured in Carnegie Units mustpresent a test score of at least 1010 on the SAT I, SAT Reasoning Test Critical Reading and Mathematics portions, or the equivalent on theACT; or a combined test score of 1450 on the SAT Reasoning Test. Students with test scores from older versions of the admission test(s)may be required to retest for admission purposes.
Hillsborough County.

Cathy Russell, Home Education Specialist with the Office of Independent Education, responded promptly to a Learning is for Everyone inquiry about this issue:

"...Once the board approves the intent to publish notice of the proposed regulation, that notice will be posted for 30 days on the BOG websitehttp://www.flbog.org/BOG_regs/ We'll have 14 days from posting of the notice to comment."The change in regulation is subtle."With the repeal of 1007.261,home ed students have lost the specific statutory guidelines it provided, but practically speaking the change in rule may not be significant. However, the reference to home ed in the first paragraph of the new rule (Students completing a home education program according to Section 1002.41, F.S., are eligible for admission; however, each university may require additional documentation to verify student eligibility) [seems] a little ...vague ..."

Cathy Russell
Home Education Specialist
Office of Independent Education and Parental Choice Office
Main: 850-245-0502Office Fax: 850-245-0868
Web: www.floridaschoolchoice.org

We'll keep you posted as we learn more, and will include additional information and documentation about this issue as discussion progresses.

Friday, July 20, 2007

From Home Education Foundation: [HEF_Info] FHSAA new eligibilty forms and guidelines

"After weeks of cooperative work between the FHSAA, the Home Education Foundation, HEAT teams, and county liaisons, we have some new, and very worthwhile, information for home educators statewide. The FHSAA recently updated their EL 07 form which is used by student athletes wishing to participate in competitive sports with FHSAA member teams.

"The information we are providing is uniform throughout the State and consists of the new EL 07 form, a Guide to filling out the EL 07, and a new Verification form which is to be filled out by your county's home education liaison. Please download and/or print the information and familiarize yourself with it. All 3 parts may be found individually on the HEF website at: http://www.flhef.org/extracurricular-activities/sports.html or on the FHSAA's website under Eligibility and Compliance.

"Home education students wishing to participate in fall sports will need to have these forms filled out and returned relatively soon, so please forward this email to your groups as soon as possible. We recommend you have this information printed and available at your next group meeting.

"As we are updating our email loop, please let us know of any new group leaders you wish to have added to this list": http://www.flhef.org

Wednesday, April 11, 2007