Live as if you were to die tomorrow. Learn as if you were to live forever.
- Mahatma Ghandi

Welcome to LIFE of Florida!

Our secular and inclusive Florida-wide Informal Education support group acts as a resource center and clearinghouse for homeschoolers, informal learners and alternative educators interested in enriching their learning environments and maximizing their learning opportunities, as well as an advocacy center for Curiosity Driven Learning.

There is no cost to be part of LIFE of Florida -- just join in at our email discussion and announcement list, Florida LIFE, where you can download your membership card -- good for educational discounts throughout FL -- and stay informed and updated on events, issues and resources, and connect with other informal learners throughout the state.

If you're just getting started in homeschooling, be sure to check out our LIFE of Florida Quick Links, our list of Useful Docs, and our enormous collection of resources in the side columns, and visit our Inclusive Homeschool Support Groups page to find a group near you.

If you'd like your regional inclusive support group to be networked with LIFE of Florida, drop us a line with a group description, contact and other relevant information and we'll add you, free of charge, to our directory. All your group members will be automatically considered members of LIFE of Florida, and are entitled to membership cards and all the benefits we offer. Virtual school families are also welcome to enjoy our resources, support and camaraderie.

We're all inclusive and free of charge, and we're here for you!

Monday, April 21, 2008

HSLDA Plies Florida Homeschoolers

Some of you may have seen or received a solicitation from Home School Legal Defense Association (HSLDA) titled, “Join the Coalition to Protect Homeschool Freedom.”

The letter is little more than an opportunistic scare tactic, taking advantage of people’s concerns about CA. If HSLDA seems right for you, that's great, but as with any group that would have you part with your money in the interest of "protecting" you, LIFE recommends being fully informed about the organization.

Among other things, their solicitation says, “Frankly, we never know when or from where the next challenge will come. It could come from a piece of legislation, a court ruling, or even a knock on your front door.

If that sounds a lot like a home security ad, that's because it's exactly the type of fear-based persuasion the “knock on your front door” suggestion is supposed to invoke. And it's especially insulting here in FL, with our homeschool friendly environment and varied and successful choice programs that have families all over the state learning in dozens of different ways that rarely provoke an unfriendly knock on the door.

But FL is exactly where HSLDA is trying to get a better foothold. It’s apparently working on a FL affiliate program where they’re offering folks gift cards for new member referrals. Fear for you homeschool freedoms no longer – now you’re safe and you can go shopping.

Among the membership benefits they offer:

-"the freedom to homeschool without having to face legal threats alone."

Most homeschoolers never face a legal threat for homeschooling, and HSLDA even admits as much, stating on their website: “The vast majority of contacts member families face are successfully resolved through our early intervention without any court action.” Fortunately, LIFE and even other homeschooling friends can usually help you resolve any concerns without court action or cost.

-For those who do wind up in court, HSLDA promises” full representation at every stage of legal proceedings” – unless you’re divorced, not homeschooling acceptably, or you’re a grandparent and facing problems with parents, among other things. They also add this little caveat: “ Consistent with Internal Revenue Service regulations, we cannot guarantee representation in every case. “

They also say they offer these “valuable” benefits:

- "Online Curriculum Market where you can save a lot of money buying and selling homeschool-related materials and books. Anyone can sell, but only HSLDA Members may purchase items (and it's free)."

Join them for $115 a year, and it’s free "for a limited time" to buy stuff their auction site.

-"Weekly Updates and e-lerts that call our members to action. We track state and federal bills in regard to homeschooling, then inform you of those bills."

You can actually subscribe to their update and e-lerts without joining. And they certainly do track a lot of stuff, including civil and human rights concerns that have nothing to do with home education, and which they generally do their best to oppose, using your money to fund their personal agenda.

-They’ll also give you “discounts on home and auto insurance, school supplies, hotel reservations, and much more.

Homeschoolers are a one stop market for HSLDA – they’ll sell you everything under the sun!

-"Access to coordinators who can answer your questions and help you find resources for homeschooling through high school and meeting the special needs of struggling learners."

Basically what LIFE does for you for for free, and what we all routinely do for each other in our homeschool communities.

-And they conduct research: “HSLDA has initiated research and compiled statistical evidence of homeschool achievement in conjunction with the National Home Education Research Institute.”

NHERI is a pretty biased research organization and, in partnership with HSLDA, can get the numbers to say pretty much what they’d like for the purposes that they decide.

You can learn more about HSLDA at http://hsislegal.com/ and if you ever really do need legal assistance, they’re not the only homeschool legal help around.

There’s:

Association of Homeschool Attorneys

National Home Education Legal Defense and

Legal Match – homeschool lawyers

Contrary to what HSLDA might have you believe, the best protected homeschooler is an informed and proactive one who knows his or her civil rights, is familiar with the state laws and follows them, and who knows how to speak out on his or her own behalf. No one can sell you better protection than that.

LIFE of FL

Saturday, April 12, 2008

Ringling Museum of Art Educator Institute 2008

After a very successful 2007 program, we are happy to announce extended programming in summer 2008! Join us for a multi-day experience this summer during one of our two sessions:

Session One: June 16 – 18
Session Two: June 23 – 25

Come together to refresh your teaching techniques, explore artistic methods and renew your spirit! Learn how The John and Mable Ringling Museum of Art can be an ongoing source of curriculum for your classes, and learn practical, usable skills for your classroom. You’ll also gain an understanding of art and academic integration, and find new ways to incorporate reading, writing, and visual arts into any classroom.

These sessions are most beneficial for teachers of the Visual Arts – drawing, painting, photography, ceramics, sculpture, and other similar disciplines will find this most useful. Academic teachers, especially those who want to do more art-making, learn how to use museum resources, and be creatively inspired, are invited to join, too!

This year's program focuses on the Permanent Collection of the Museum of Art. Each day, you will engage in gallery activities and hands-on trials of lesson plans. We will engage in painting, printmaking, drawing, collage, and more - providing techniques that can go directly intoyour classroom.

Highlights include:
Exploration time in the Museum of Art, Circus Museum, The Tibbals Learning Center and Cà d’Zan Mansion

Materials and tours of the special exhibitions, Phantasmagoria: Specters of Absence and Ringling Retro: Modern and Contemporary Art from the Collection

Tickets to a film or performance in the Historic Asolo Theater
Time for journaling and reflection

Hands-on workshops each day, focusing on a different media and academic connection

Syd Solomon, Silent World, 1961, Liquitex on gesso panelFrom the upcoming exhibition, Ringling Retro: Modern and Contemporary Art from the Collection

Call 941-358-3180 to register today!(Monday – Friday, 9:00 a.m. – 4:00 p.m.)

Registration period ends June 1, 2008

Cost: $90 per person

Fee includes:- Three full days of programming- All art materials- Reference binder- Admission to all venues- Tickets to one evening performance- Lunch each day
Program Hours 8:30 a.m. - 5:00 p.m. daily-

Programming ends at approximately 3:00 p.m., with 2 hours free time. - Performance is on the Monday evening, from 7:00 – 10:00 p.m. - You must enroll for the entire session; partial enrollments are not accepted.

Credits 15 hours in-service credit awarded at the close of day 3.

Location: The Educator Institute 2008 will be held entirely at The John and Mable Ringling Museum of Art in Sarasota. All days begin and end in the Education and Conservation Building. Directions sent via email once registered.