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Sometimes local does NOT equal better.

Often enough, our resiliency is hampered by the rules under which we live. I have discovered that it is almost completely economically unfeasible for me to sell my homebrew beer. Between the licensing and everything else to be in regulatory compliance the price entry point into the business is prohibitive and there is no allowance for small/home scale. I’m not even sure I will be able to pull off something like artisan cheeses and smoked meats, what with the kitchen inspections, etc. Those price entry points are what have steered my thinking towards some sort of co-op/hacker space arrangement for folks who want to produce and sell in very small batches. I may need to expand that model to include a not-for-profit home school association if I want to move back to the Great and Sovereign State of Alabama!

I did some research yesterday regarding our homeschooling efforts. Despite bouncing around the world, we retain our state residency in Alabama. That is where we have drivers license and vehicle registration, where we pay state taxes and where we plan to retire. Despite that, if we homeschooled our kids IN Alabama the way we do now, we would be in violation of the state’s compulsory attendance law.

We are able to do as we do now because we fall under the auspices of the DOD education system, which actually has a very liberal home school policy. We let the local DOD school rep know we are moving into the area and that we home school and they ask if we need anything and here is who you notify that you want to have your kids tested if you do and have a nice day.

In Alabama, it would be very different. If we chose not to have our kids attend public school, they would either have to attend a private school, such as Marion Military Institute, a church school (defined at the county level and can be any non-profit association pretty much) or have a private, in home tutor who was state accredited. My Alabama teaching certification expired in 2007 and because I have a full-time job I could not be their tutor anyway.

And, in Alabama, you cannot enroll your kids in a national level on-line home school association or on-line “school”. Those don’t count. So, we would be forced to associate with some sort of church or private school and accept their, more or less, intrusion into our homeschooling. So, in this case, the Federal rules are less restrictive and intrusive than the local.

I was fortunate to actually talk to the Alabama Dept. of Education director for attendance, his secretary had stepped out and he picked up the phone and we had a pleasant conversation. His biggest problems are those in the home school community who register their kids with a “church” school that doesn’t require attendance (which I am ok with) but who then just let their kids run to the mall or wherever. The kind of people that give folks like me a bad name. And I understand his position, to an extent. I, personally, am ok with folks who are willing to have their kids grow up ignorant to do so. I just think we need to pull the plug on the social welfare programs that allow them to survive and breed without consequence. We forget that not too long ago, the opportunity to get an education was so critical that parents would literally almost kill themselves to provide it, and kids appreciated that with the gravity it was due.

Before I ramble around anymore, let me just state my desire, where I would love to see this country go. Devolve responsibility to the local level. That part of the system, at least in education and at least in some things, is working. Not because Alabama is more restrictive in homeschooling than the DOD, but because if the citizens of Alabama are willing to put up with it, they should have to. But, even better, let’s devolve it to the individual level. Get the government out of education, period, at even the county level. Let the market provide education to those who want it and can get it. If there are deserving individuals who cannot afford it, that is why we have private and ethnic identity and voluntary association charities like the Red Cross or the Lodge of Ancient and Honorable Elks or the local Italian League or whatever. Get the government out of the handout business. There is a place for charity, but it is NOT the governments place. And that is across the board, not just education. The Federal and even State scope of authority ought to be damn small.

But, de-toxing our society off of their crack addiction will, I believe, require a significant enough system disruption to force the cold turkey option. I feel that that type event is more and more inevitable (‘what cannot continue will stop’ per Mr. Pournelle) but I no longer relish it. It will be the DT’s at a national level…and many will not survive it.

*For my friend Bad Quaker, yeah, I know, but I am getting there!

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