Saskatchewan Home-Based Educators
Saskatchewan Home-Based Educators, Inc (SHBE) is a voluntary membership organization that represents the homeschool community of Saskatchewan. The homeschool community is a diverse set of families united in supporting each other with encouragement, resources, education, and support groups. Regardless of a family’s philosophical or religious convictions regarding home-based education, SHBE supports each family’s right to homeschool – as well as their children’s right to receive a homeschool education directed by their parents. Along with the province of Saskatchewan, we proclaim, “from many peoples, strength”.
SHBE facilitates community by organizing an annual convention at which families join to learn about the latest pedagogical methods and neurological discoveries, to encourage each other and to share ideas, as well as to buy or sell used resources and to purchase new books, resources and curriculum. The 2021 SHBE Convention will be the 30th annual convention that has been paid for, organized and staffed by homeschoolers and for homeschoolers. One of the largest events in either Regina or Saskatoon, the convention draws homeschoolers from every corner of the province and has an annual attendance of approximately 600 people, which equates to roughly half of all home-based education families in Saskatchewan.
SHBE has also held four special needs conferences in recent years, in response to feedback from our members who reported they desired additional supports and community, but were fearful of asking for assistance from their school division (due to the existing wording in the Home-based Education Policy and Procedures Manual).
SHBE formed in 1983 and existed for many years primarily as a newsletter circulated among families. With continued growth, a need for a province-wide affiliation that would span methods and philosophical approaches was identified. In 1987, SHBE became the voice of home-based educators in the province. SHBE was instrumental in working with the department of education as it drafted the legislation recognizing home based education and providing for an exemption from compulsory school attendance requirements. SHBE formed a board of directors in 1990 and incorporated in 1992 as Saskatchewan Home Based Educators, Inc.
When regulations were being drafted, SHBE had insisted that parents have recourse to register with the department of education. This was necessary, not to encourage discord with school divisions, but rather to encourage cooperation by ensuring parents did not feel cornered and powerless. SHBE recommended and advocated for a home-based education review panel that would arbitrate disagreements over policy or procedure, while leaving matters of substance to the parents and the local school boards.
There are no longer widespread problems with un-registered homeschoolers, in large part due to SHBE influence. However, SHBE notes that some home-based educators are feeling shut out and backed into a corner: there is no longer a Home Based Education Review Panel, no longer an option to register directly with the ministry of education, and no objective dispute resolution process (the ministry of education has removed the home based education dispute resolution mechanism and deferred to the local school division’s dispute resolution processes). Today, many SHBE members wonder what has become of protecting the province’s compelling interest by “the least intrusive means”?
Positive Changes Proposed
- SHBE submitted proposed changes to the Intensive Needs section, to use less aggressive wording and thereby offer no dis-incentives for home based educators to inform regarding intensive needs. The SHBE proposal would make the Intensive Needs wording more compatible with other sections of the policy manual.
- SHBE is currently advocating for a more balanced and representative dispute resolution mechanism, in which home based educators are fairly represented and have adequate recourse to settle disputes with school divisions.
- SHBE has requested changes to the residency requirements for registration of home based education programs.
Freedom to Excel
SHBE ultimately advocates that fewer regulatory burdens be placed upon homeschool families. Based on research indicating that regulation does not lead to better academic or societal outcomes, SHBE believes this is a reasonable goal that will not jeopardize the province’s compelling interest in the education of children and youth. SHBE does not simply advocate for “Freedom from regulation”, but “Freedom to excel”: easing the regulatory burdens from home based educators will allow them to expend their time and effort on delivering excellent educational opportunities for their children, which is ultimately also in the interest of the province of Saskatchewan.