1.  Take action to defeat harmful mandate
The following message comes from Andrew Beckwith, President, Massachusetts Family Institute. Although it does not directly concern us as homeschoolers, this issue has enormous implications for our friends and neighbors who are in the public school system as either students or teachers. Warning: some of the links to the student materials contain graphic images.
Dear Friend of the Family,

As promised, I’m sending you the details on the Sex-Ed Mandate that’s coming up for a vote as early as this Thursday. We have received a lot of questions in response to our heads-up email and text over the weekend, so I’ll do my best to address them one by one. Some people are also being told by their state legislators that MFI’s warnings about this bill are “misinformation.” This talking point is more than a bit ironic since it is coming from people who consider anal sex with a saran wrap prophylactic “medically accurate” and “age appropriate” education for 12-year-olds. More on that later in the email.
Here’s some Sex-Ed Mandate FAQ:
1) Is this really a “mandate”?
Yes. MA Senate Bill 2459, the “Healthy Youth” Act, is a state-wide, Sex-Ed Mandate. This bill forces schools to use sex-ed that’s tied to a curriculum framework, officially known as the Massachusetts Comprehensive Health Curriculum Framework. The Framework currently just serves as a guideline for schools. But the Healthy Youth Act will make the Framework a standard that all schools teaching sex-ed must follow. This takes control over sex-ed out of the hands of local schools and parents and gives it all to the Department of Elementary and Secondary Education (DESE).
2) What is in the Framework?
Nobody knows yet. A DESE panel has been working to update the Framework, and it is set to be published later this year. This means senators voting this week have have no idea what set of standards they will be forcing upon Massachusetts schools. DESE could effectively mandate any content they want. Here are some examples of content from Planned Parenthood’s Get Real curricula that DESE has already recommended for MA middle schools. MFI discovered these examples from purchasing the materials and going through them page by page. The images linked below are taken directly from the Get Real curriculum:
Although the text of the Sex-Ed Mandate requires that curricula be “age appropriate” and “medically accurate,” DESE gets to interpret what those terms actually mean. Shockingly, DESE rates the above Get Real content as “good” for age-appropriateness and “excellent” for meeting the Framework standards.
3) Who is helping write the new Framework?
Planned Parenthood is influencing the Framework rewrite with one of their top officials on the panel updating the Framework. Planned Parenthood’s website claims it is the largest sex-education provider in the country. They bring in significant revenue every year from schools purchasing their curriculum, and stand to profit from a mandate framework that favors their curriculum. The organization will also grow their client base with a curriculum that encourages children to engage in sexual activity. Planned parenthood promotes itself to young people as a place for STD/STI testing and treatment, abortion services, and transgender hormone therapy.

The “expertise” that the aforementioned Planned Parenthood official brings to the Framework rewrite stems from her leadership over The Get Real Teen Council. This is a Planned Parenthood initiative that trains high schoolers how to teach children as young as 12 to “consent” to sex as “peer educators.” However, children under 16 are not legally capable of consenting to sex, as the age of consent for sex in MA is 16. A 12 year-old child having sex in MA is the victim of statutory rape. This is not education. This is grooming.

4) Doesn’t the bill give parents the ability to opt their child out of sex-ed class and review the curriculum themselves? 
The bill does include an opt-out requirement and states schools should make curricula available to parents. However, existing law already has a nearly identical opt-out provision, and it doesn’t work. An opt-out puts the burden on busy parents to send a letter removing their child from a sex-ed class. Parents also have to request to review the curriculum themselves, a notoriously difficult process that requires parents to take time off of work, show up at their child’s school, negotiate with school administrators, and review potentially hundreds of pages of material while at the school.
5) Doesn’t the bill require teaching abstinence?
Yes. However, most materials, including Get Real, frame the concept of abstinence as only one of many options. The overwhelming majority of the content actually instructs children in how to engage in explicit sexual activity, making the abstinence message ineffective.
6) When would this go into effect?
If passed, the Sex-Ed Mandate will go into effect during the 2020-2021 school year.
7) What else should I know about this bill?
The Healthy Youth Act mandates that schools teaching sex-ed must include LGBTQ+ affirming material.
8) What can I do about this?
Here’s how you can help stop Planned Parenthood propaganda from entering your child’s school:
  • Contact your state senator and tell them to oppose an Act Relative to Healthy Youth, SB 2459.
  • Go to your child’s school and request to review their curriculum. Contact MFI if you need help with this process.
  • Attend MFI’s 2020 Lobby Day to show Beacon Hill MA parents are a force to be reckoned with
  • Donate to MFI, so we can continue bringing people together from across the state to stop this bill and other anti-family attacks.
    For our families,
    Andrew Beckwith
    Massachusetts Family Institute
2.  Phys. Ed. class at Springfield College
Springfield College physical education (PE) registration has started!

The program will be held each Friday from 9:30 a.m. to 10:40 a.m.in the PE complex fieldhouse, starting on January 31 and ending on April 24. The focus of the class is on the improvement of fundamental motor skills and movement concepts, which will be developmentally appropriate for the age groups. Children are broken up into small groups by age (5-7, 8-10, and 11+), and the class is open to kindergarten through 12th grade.
Cost is $20 for one student and $30 for a family (2 or more). Checks should be made payable to Springfield College PE Majors Club.
All checks must be accompanied by a completed waiver form (new students only), and parking application. To acquire the forms or to get additional information, please contact Jennifer Stefaniak at jmstefaniak@yahoo.com.
3.  HSLDA Art contest: deadline in two weeks

Get your entries in! Submissions close February 1. This year’s HSLDA art contest is challenging students to experiment with characteristics of three historic genres of art. Whether Cubist, Rococo, or Impressionist, homeschoolers can submit their works to compete for recognition and cash prizes. Entries are being accepted now. For more details, including entry forms and guidelines, see Art Contest.

4.  Participate in a Chicago World’s Fair re-enactment in Holden!
Holden Christian Academy would like to welcome homeschoolers to participate in a special school wide event to be held on Friday, January 24: a re-enactment of the 1893 Chicago World’s Fair.

Students are welcome to participate in this day-long event with their parents. The students and parents would research and dress up as one of the people who attended the Chicago World’s Fair of 1893. They could bring a food to share in the Midway and participate in all of the activities with their grade level. The school does request that they call ahead to give their contact information and secure the details of their participation in the event. There is no fee. They are just requested to be active participants in this enriching event. Some fun sites to whet your interest:

Call the school at (508)829-4418 for more details.

Holden Christian Academy
279 Reservoir St, Holden, MA 01520

5. The MassHOPE Educator ID Card
Educator IDs are now available for benefits such as potential discounts at retailers. Order them from our website HERE.
6.  Attention, graduating seniors
For many years MassHOPE sponsored two events for graduating seniors: a graduate recognition ceremony at the annual Worcester convention in April, and a formal cap-and-gown ceremony at Holden Chapel in June. This year, however, is bringing changes. We are moving the convention to a new venue in Sturbridge, and we are dropping the recognition ceremony.
The formal graduation is still on! See https://masshope.org/graduation/for details. If you are interested in learning more about this event, please send an email to graduation@masshope.org. Deadline to sign up is Saturday, April 25, 2020.

7.  Are you on our mailing lists?
To those who have been recently added to our email list through our website: if you would also like to be added to our “snail mail” list to receive information (such as our print newsletter) via the U.S. Postal Service, please send your full name and complete mailing address to newsletter@masshope.org.

8. Your news items wanted
Do you know of an event or activity in or near Massachusetts that would edify or interest the homeschool community? Email Anne Smith at

ewsjfamily@startmail.com and we will review it for possible inclusion in the MassHOPE Messenger.

9.  For-fee advertising
The MassHOPE Messenger is a biweekly e-newsletter that is sent free to approximately 2500 mailboxes. Unfortunately, it is not free to distribute. This cost increases each year, and MassHOPE has limited funds. Therefore we charge a nominal fee of $20 for unsolicited submissions from individuals, and from most organizations or groups unaffiliated with MassHOPE, who wish to advertise their for-fee services. Items will ordinarily run in two consecutive issues. For more information, contact Anne Smith at ewsjfamily@startmail.com.

10. Remember to “Like” MassHOPE on Facebook
“Like” MassHOPE’s Facebook page: facebook.com/MassHOPE?fref=ts. You’ll be encouraged in your homeschooling journey and will receive all updates for upcoming events.

11. Do you receive The Voice of HOPE?
MassHOPE publishes a quarterly print newsletter, The Voice of HOPE. In addition to announcements you might also find in the Messenger, we provide three or four full-length articles on a variety of homeschooling topics. If you would like to add your name, please send your name and “snail mail” address to newsletter@masshope.org.

12. Support MassHOPE through AmazonSmile
Do you shop at Amazon? If you shop through AmazonSmile, Amazon will make a donation to MassHOPE! If you’re not already signed up, you can do so more easily than ever. To start supporting our organization, simply click this link, which is unique to MassHOPE: http://smile.amazon.com/ch/04-HYPERLINK “http://smile.amazon.com/ch/04-3220412”3220412. That’s all! From then on, when – and only when – you enter the Amazon website through amazonsmile.com,Amazon will automatically donate 0.5% of the purchase price of eligible products to MassHOPE. Thank you for supporting the work of your Christian state homeschool organization!

13. How to submit Box Tops for convention savings
You can earn free or reduced admission to the MassHOPE conventions AND support MassHOPE at the same time! Submissions for the 2020 convention are now closed, but you can start getting credit toward the 2021 convention. Want to submit Box Tops for convention credit but aren’t sure how to proceed? There are now two distinct processes for submission. You may use either or both. See item A, below, to learn about the “new” process. To learn about the “old” process, including the new (and more user-friendly) expiration date policy, see the detailed instructions in item B.

A. “New” method for submitting Box Tops
Box Tops for Education is in the process of changing over to a totally new system: from low-tech (scissors) to high-tech (phone app). In a nutshell, this is what you’ll do: 1. Download the Box Tops app to a smartphone, designating MassHOPE as the school to be credited. 2. Purchase products with the new Box Tops logo. 3. Within 14 days of purchase, using the app and your phone’s camera, scan the receipt. MassHOPE will automatically be credited with ten cents per Box Top. You can read the detailsHERE.
The changeover is taking place over a period of a few years and has already started. For the present, both the old (clipping Box Tops) and new (scanning receipts) systems are in place. As paper Box Tops are phased out, fewer and fewer products will have them, and more and more products will be switched over to the new system.
Will I still be able to earn convention credit? YES. When you sign up on the app and designate MassHOPE, you will see a “get credit” option where you can register for credit under your name. Box Tops automatically keeps track of credits, and MassHOPE is able to access this information. [Since MassHOPE will receive only a name without any contact information, we will be asking you to let us how you want your submissions to be credited. That system is not yet in place. Stay tuned for updates!]
Will I still be able to send in my paper Box Tops?YES.All present and future clipped Box Tops will be valid until their expiration dates. Keep sending them in.
Will there be any problems with this system? Unfortunately, YES.There already are. The technology is not yet working perfectly, and we doubt anyone can guarantee that it ever will work perfectly. We don’t know whether the problem is in individual phones, or the overall computer program, but there have been complaints about organizations and schools not being properly credited.
What should I do if I’m not getting as much credit as I should? Unfortunately, we don’t think there is anything we can do from our end. It may be frustrating, but probably most of your purchases will be properly credited. Try comforting yourself with the advantages of the new system: no clipping, no storage, and no mailing costs.
You can start using the new system immediately. And you can continue to use the old system until it’s completely phased out. If you have any questions, please contact Anne Smith at (978)372-1339 or volunteer@masshope.org.
B. “Old” method for submitting Box Tops *SEE CHANGE*
Clip the Box Tops for Education tabs that are still found on many, though increasingly fewer, products. Bag them securely, and bring them to any MassHOPE function, or mail them to us c/o Anne Smith, 85 Liberty Street, Haverhill, MA 01832. They should be postmarked by December 31, 2029, for 2021 convention credit. You may choose either of the following options, but please note with your submission which you have chosen:
1. Donate all of them.  The proceeds will be used for MassHOPE scholarships.
2. Receive credit for 50% of the value of your Box Tops toward registration for next year’s convention. The remainder will be used for MassHOPE scholarships. In either case, if you designate a MassHOPE affiliated support group, one half of the MassHOPE portion will be donated to that group.

Box Tops should be enclosed in a sealed envelope. Submissions must include all of the following information: name, address, phone number, email address, number of Box Tops enclosed, option chosen, and (if applicable) name of support group that will benefit.

NOTE: If you have any electronic Box Tops that need to be submitted online, send them to us along with your cardboard Box Tops, and we will submit them online for you.
Please keep track of expiration dates. *CHANGE*We will honor those that expire no less than a month from when we receive them. If we receive Box Tops expiring in under a month, we may be able to submit them in time for you to get credit, but we cannot guarantee anything. Contact Anne Smith at (978)372-1339 or volunteer@masshope.org with any questions.