How it all started

It was the summer of 1970 when my mom first conceived the idea. Perhaps friends in Canada who had taken their children out of school inspired her. I'm not sure. But that summer she began to discuss the issue with my Dad, and we all could hear her hopes: to teach us at home.

Before attempting any action, Mom and Dad first sought counsel from the former District Principle of the Mexico School System, Dr. Stanton. They discussed their plan with him, and asked if it was feasible. Dr. Stanton informed them that a new law had been introduced into the New York State statues, which allowed parents to teach their children at home. Encouraging them, he gave them the name and address of another family who had removed their children from the Mexico School system and successfully taught them at home. They were Seventh Day Adventists. Their children had gone from home school to graduating, and some even on to college.

Armed with this information from the former school district principal, they next contacted the family. The parents were excited at our hopes, and offered to help us get started. They gave us desks and books, and explained what we needed to do in order to fulfill all the requirements of  the laws of New York State regarding homeschooling.

Dad went one step further. Not content with the information they had been given, he decided to find the laws spoken of by Dr. Stanton and the Seventh Day Adventist family. Taking the three older girls, Bonnie, Patty and Amy, he went to SUNY in Oswego and asked permission to browse their law library. It covered a whole floor. The group split up, taking down law books and searching for the necessary cases. They found them, copied down the case, the case number, the direct quote, and the book. 

When the first day of school arrived, we gathered our books and trudged on to class. After all, my parents weren't opposed to education, just to sex education. On the second day of school, Susie told Mom her health teacher had said in class that day, "We're going to learn all about sex. How do you like that?"

Now the die was cast, my parents worst fear confirmed. Mom in particular was determined we would not be exposed to such raw materials. We stayed home on day three, and began our studies.

I didn't want to be taught at home. And perhaps I've felt stigmatized since. But these truths do not negate the fact that, at a time when women were still very marginalized, my mom did the unthinkable. She stood up to the establishment. She has been ostracized since then, marginalized, slandered and persecuted. When her house caught fire in the early 1980's, the Mexico Fire Department responded by standing by and watching it burn. When they finally decided to turn on the hoses, they poured so much water on the house that what wasn't destroyed by fire was destroyed by water. My Dad said that water became rivers that flowed from the burning house down into the street. It was Mexico's statement of contempt for the family.

Yet, my mom persevered in her quest, and against all odds, she won.

This is her story.