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Be A Homeschool Pirate!
Hoist the Jolly Roger!

Hoist the Jolly Roger!

Be A Homeschool Pirate!
Hoist the Jolly Roger!

By Diane Flynn Keith

Note: This is a transcript of a keynote speech Diane Flynn Keith gave at The Link Homeschool Conference in April, 2008.

On February 28th, 2008, in a moment of monumental stupidity a decision handed down by Appellate Court Judge William Croskey turned most of us, who homeschool our children in California, into outlaws.

He and the other two judges who rendered the decision didn't bother to do their homework — they simply interpreted the California education code without the facts. They made a bad decision based on ignorance, bias, and prejudice.

Due to social and political pressure the court has agreed to reconsider its decision. In doing so, it invited written arguments not from homeschool parents or state and national homeschool organizations — but from the California Department of Education and the California Teachers Association!

Of course, state homeschooling organizations are filing amicus briefs on behalf of homeschool parents — but who knows if the court will consider them?

If they don't, we may be faced with a decision that could severely restrict how we homeschool legally in California — and it could instantly turn many of you into outlaws.

I say that not to scare you — but to ask what will you do?

If homeschooling were made illegal in the state of California — what would you do?

  • Would you just throw up your hands in surrender, obey the law, stop homeschooling and enroll your children in public or private schools?
  • Would you move to Nevada or Texas or some other state that does allow homeschooling?
  • Would you practice civil disobedience and homeschool in defiance of the law?
  • Would you go underground?
  • Would you risk fines and imprisonment to educate your children as you see fit?
  • If threatened by Child Protective Services, would you take your kids and flee in the night to someplace safe, where homeschooling is legal?

Where does the MORAL AUTHORITY to homeschool your children come from?

Does it come from a place outside of yourself?

Does it come from some crotchety old judge in the Appellate Court who interprets the law badly?

This isn't the first time that a court has made a bad decision, you know.

One of the landmark bad decisions by the highest court in the land occurred in March of 1857. The United States Supreme Court rendered the Dred Scott decision in which Chief Justice Taney declared that all black people — slaves as well as free — were not U.S. citizens and, "had no rights which the white man was bound to respect; and that the negro might justly and lawfully be reduced to slavery for his benefit."

What were they thinking?!!

It was a major landmark on the road to the Civil War. The Dred Scott decision was overturned with the adoption of the 13th and 14th amendments to the Constitution (1865, 1868) that ended slavery and established the citizenship of all persons, regardless of race, creed, or previous condition of servitude.

But for 50 years before those amendments were passed — there were people like Harriet Tubman and abolitionist sympathizers who defied the law and risked everything — including imprisonment and death — by providing an Undergroud Railroad to help slaves escape to freedom.

Now, I'm not suggesting you'll need to board an Underground Railroad for homeschoolers.

I want to make the point that people CAN and DO make the RIGHT MORAL decisions even when — and especially when — the law is wrong.

When I started homeschooling in 1991, the California Department of Education held the opinion that to homeschool by filing the private school affidavit was illegal.

Many of us who wanted to homeschool our children defied the California Department of Education and homeschooled our children anyway.

As far as the state was concerned my kids were truants and we were outlaws.

A group of us at the time decided to embrace our status as outlaws and encourage others to join our gang.

We held homeschool information nights at the library. We called the press and invited them to do stories about homeschooling. We deliberately took our kids out in broad daylight — we wanted people to know that we homeschooled and were proud of it.

How dare any state official suggest you don't have your children's best interests at heart?

How dare they tell you that you can't homeschool your own children? Who, the hell, do they think they are?

In general, I respect and obey laws — but some laws are outrageous and absurd. California is full of them.

All you have to do is visit DumbLaws.com where these laws are archived. Here are a few just to give you an idea...

  • In California, sunshine is guaranteed to the masses. (How can you govern nature?)
  • It's illegal to own a snail as a pet. (And I'll bet there are more than a few of you whose kids have broken that law.)
  • In Blythe, California, you are not permitted to wear cowboy boots unless you own two cows.
  • In Lodi, it's illegal to own or sell "Silly String." (I'll bet you're happy you don't live there on your kid's birthday.)
  • In Los Angeles, did you know that...
    • It's illegal to lick toads.
    • You can't hunt moths under a streetlight.
    • You can't bathe two babies in the same tub at the same time.
  • In San Francisco...
    • Persons classified as "ugly" may not walk down any street.
    • It's illegal to wipe one's car with used underwear.

Those are just a few of the dumb laws on the books in California. Judge Crosky and his court may decide to add another.

But I don't care what Judge Crosky or the state of California says; we parents have the MORAL AUTHORITY to determine whether or not we'll homeschool our own children.

Hoist the Jolly Roger!

And I say, if they want to treat us like outlaws — then be an outlaw! There are so many of us now, it's hard to believe they could round us all up.

My husband and I were trying to think how we could protest this ridiculous situation — and we decided to just be pirates.

Pirates operate outside the law. And thanks to Disney, and especially Johnny Depp — pirates are hot! They represent daring, risk, adventure, fun, and irreverence and disdain for government interference, regulation, and bureaucratic bullshit.

So, we hoisted the Jolly Roger in front of our home — and that skull and crossbones will fly there until Judge Crosky and his Appellate Court make the right decision.

Curious about our flag, every one of our neighbors has asked, "Are you having a pirate party?"

We just explain that we're sick and tired of our government treating us like imbeciles, being ineffective and wasteful, and threatening our rights and liberty. We've had enough of the scurvy bilge rats! This is our silent protest to let the government know that we want to pirate our country back to the people.

Upon hearing our explanation, our neighbors say, "I want to be a pirate. I'll hoist the Jolly Roger. Where can I get one?"

One neighbor even said, "Wouldn't it be cool if everyone, in every neighborhood in California and beyond, who is fed up with government nonsense hoisted the Jolly Roger in front of their homes in protest? It doesn't matter what side of the political spectrum you're on, or what your particular grievance is — it's just a demonstration to let the government know that we disagree with the way things are."

That would be cool indeed.

For those of you who have the guts, hoist the Jolly Roger! And the next time some government official treats you like an imbecile, threatens your rights and liberty, or tells you that you can't homeschool your own children — muster your personal authority and power, point to the Jolly Roger, and sing out loud, "Yo ho, yo ho, a pirate's life for me!"

I'm Diane Flynn Keith, and I approve this message. Arrrrrgh!

Note: At the end of this presentation, Diane distributed small Jolly Roger pirate flags to the audience. In solidarity, the audience waved their flags and sang the pirate anthem. That was cool, but it gets better...

After Diane spoke, an attorney from Home School Legal Defense Association provided a thorough explanation of the homeschool legal situation in California. At the end of his presentation he noted, "I'm an attorney and sworn to uphold the law, but I think Diane is right. Be a pirate. Go pirates!"

The rest of the weekend, you could overhear conference participants using pirate talk in normal conversation. Do you want to talk like a pirate? Do you want to know more about pirates? Do you want to purchase a Jolly Roger flag? Here are some resources:

Pirate Resources

Pirate Books for Children
Books and resources to learn how to act like a pirate, learn the lingo, get your own Jolly Roger, read about exciting pirate adventures, and much more.

Rob Ossian's Pirate Cove
Rob Ossian (pronounced "ocean") is a nautical archaeologist. He offers pirate biographies, historical timelines, nautical and pirate terminology, pirate music and shanties, an online sailing simulator and much more.

New England Pirate Museum's Lesson Plans & Activities

Mrs. Mitchell's Virtual School: Pirates
There is SO MUCH content on the Internet about pirates that it's hard to sort through it to find the best of the best. Fortunately, teacher Kathi Mitchell has done that for us and maintains a list of links to fantastic sites about pirates including National Geographic and the Library of Congress. When you get to the site you will see a menu of links that include pirate lesson plans!

Talk Like A Pirate Day (September 19th): For Kids
Did you know that September 19th is International Talk Like A Pirate Day? Well, it is. Originally designed as something for grown-ups to do, the creators of the event soon discovered that kids want to talk like pirates too. At this website you'll find pirate lexicon for the younger set, a bibliography of kids' books about pirates, ideas for pirate parties, a downloadable pirate curriculum for Talk Like A Pirate Day, and even a downloadable kids' study guide developed by the San Francisco Opera Guild for Gilbert & Sullivan's "Pirates of Penzance."

NOTE: Because this site was originally intended for adults, there is some bawdy material in other sections of the site. AS ALWAYS, parents should preview this site BEFORE allowing children to explore it to determine suitability of content. Check out Captain Slappy's chantey song.

History.com: True Caribbean Pirates
There is some info on pirates archived here, and you can purchase the History Channel's DVD, True Caribbean Pirates.

Disney's Pirates of the Caribbean
Provides the latest news from Disney along with lots of merchandise including these Pirates of the Caribbean DVDs:

Free! Treasure Island
By Robert Louis Stevenson is available online at this website.

Pirate Museums and Living History Reenactments

All of these museums offer pirate history, artifacts, and memorabilia. Many provide educational materials for teachers and students, as well as guided tours. A few provide pirate living history days and reenactments along with tall ship events and Chantey sing-alongs.

Chantey Sing at Hyde Street Pier, San Francisco, California
A public sing-along of sea chanteys and sailor songs aboard a historic ship at San Francisco Maritime National Historical Park. 8pm to Midnight on the first Saturday of every month. Wear warm clothing and bring a mug for hot cider. Free Admission. Reservations required, call 415-561-7171.

Charleston Harbor Fest, Charleston, South Carolina
Annual maritime festival complete with Pirate Camp!

Graveyard of the Atlantic Museum, Hatteras, North Carolina
The waters off North Carolina's outer banks entomb thousands of vessels and countless mariners — the victims of piracy, war, and weather. This museum features artifacts from shipwrecks and some of America's most important maritime history.

Mel Fisher Maritime Museum, Key West, Florida
Exhibits feature treasure recovered from shipwrecks.

Mystic Seaport Museum, Mystic, Connecticut
Climb aboard historic tall ships, stroll through a re-created 19th-century coastal village, or watch a working preservation shipyard in action.

New England Pirate Museum, Salem, Massachusetts
Take a 20-30 minute walking tour, where you'll meet buccaneers from the days of yore, and behold artifacts and treasures. Visit a recreated dockside village, board a pirate ship and explore a bat cave filled with hidden booty.

Northern California Pirate Festival, Vallejo, California
In 2008 the festival will be held on June 14-15. Join Pirate Entertainers, Musicians, Singers, Swordfighters, Craftspeople, and more that turn Vallejo's waterfront into a Pirate Town the likes of which hasn't been seen since Tortuga! A swashbucklin' good time!

North Carolina Maritime Museum, Beaufort, North Carolina
Artifacts from maritime history, including shipwrecks. Special section on Blackbeard the Pirate. Holds all kinds of nautical educational events.

Pirates In Paradise Festival, Key West
Pack up yer cutlass, don yer garb, grab yer mate and join us for a full week of mischief and merrymaking that features a host of swashbuckling events for buccaneers and wenches of all ages!

Pirates of Nassau Museum, Nassau, Bahamas
Pirates of Nassau, the interactive Pirate Attraction in the heart of downtown Nassau.

Real Pirates: The Story of the Pirate Ship Whydah Exhibit, Philadelphia, PA
National Geographic and Franklin Institute Exhibit, May 31-November 2, 2008. Great multi-media promo for this pirate extravaganza exhibit is available at the website.

San Diego Maritime Museum, San Diego, California
Explore historic ships, enjoy all kinds of maritime-themed events including Chantey Sings, and treat your entire family to a sleep-over aboard a historic sailing vessel.

For a complete listing of all of the Martitime Museums throughout the U.S. — that may or may not have pirate-related artifacts and events visit:
Smith's Master Index to Maritime Museum Websites of the U.S.

About Diane Flynn Keith ...

Diane Flynn Keith is a veteran homeschool parent and an internationally recognized voice in education outside the traditional classroom walls.

Diane coaches and encourages thousands of homeschool families through her website, Homefires.com and through her popular speaking engagements. She has contributed to 5 books on homeschooling and is the author of the best-selling book, "Carschooling: Over 350 Entertaining Games & Activities To Turn Travel Time Into Learning Time."

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