A new statewide organization has formed in Maine to support parents who choose to educate their children at home rather than send them to government-run schools.
The Maine Home Education Alliance (MHEA) was founded in July of this year by homeschool parents throughout the state to support other parents and defend and preserve the legal right to homeschool.
“The right of parents to direct their children’s education is fundamental and has been confirmed by the U.S. Supreme Court on several occasions. This is true whether they attend a government-run school or not,” said Becky Grant-Widen, MHEA President..
Grant is the mother of two homeschool graduated adults, and a home educated teenager.
“This effort has sprung out of the entrepreneurial, self-determined spirit of Maine’s homegrown businesses who see the parallels with families who choose to home educate. We want to do a better job at harnessing the untapped potential of Maine’s homeschooled youth by responding to the needs of parents and homeschooled children, particularly teens who are getting ready to launch into adulthood,” said Grant.
Although the total number of homeschooled students has decreased somewhat since the Covid Era highs, the number of children being educated outside of the public school system remains more than 15 percent higher than 2019.
MHEA will spend the year creating programming, infrastructure, and leadership from within the community, Grant said. They are also seeking donations from additional businesses who would like to invest and partner with an organization committed to the preservation of independent, self-directed education.
“We have built an amazing leadership team from all walks of life which reflect the variety of ways that families make homeschooling work: law student, public school teacher, entrepreneurs, educational consultants, and scientists,” said Carolyne Falank, MHEA board member and research scientist.
“Many of us have been stay at home moms for a time, which is what most people think of when you are talking about homeschooling families. But for some of us like myself, it’s mom being the breadwinner and dad is the one staying home,” Falank said.
“We plan to break the stereotypes of what homeschooling looks like in today’s world. While homeschool families have seen these changes over the last 2 decades, the general public has not caught up,” she said.
MHEA will hold focus groups for homeschool parents in locations throughout Maine. Participants will have the opportunity to help MHEA determine the direction of the programs. Light refreshments will be provided along with a $10 Hannaford gift card at the end of the focus group.
Focus groups scheduled include: 11/8 Augusta, 11/18 Guilford, Brunswick and Ellsworth TBD. For more information about MHEA or to request participation in a focus group, please visit their website at https://mainehea.org.