Paula Bolyard knew something was wrong.
An Ohio native and Toledo graduate, Paula got her start in online activism with her work on education. Following a series of articles bashing homeschooling published in a large local newspaper, Paula began educating others on homeschooling through emails, message boards, and blogs.
“Homeschooling crosses all demographic lines and there is also an incredible amount of variety and diversity in the education styles we see in homeschooling families,” Paula said.
After receiving nationwide attention, Paula launched her own blog, primarily focusing on homeschooling and education.
Eventually, the exposure she generated led to additional writing opportunities. Paula is now a regular contributor at PJ Media and Ohio Conservative Review. She also recently began writing for the Heartland Institute.
Paula decided to homeschool her two sons because local public schools didn’t teach reading until first grade. Her oldest son, Ryan, was ready to learn before then. After a year, Ryan was so advanced for his age (and Paula had enjoyed teaching him so much) she decided to continue.
“Eventually,” Paula said, “we came to appreciate the multitude of social and spiritual benefits of teaching our children at home. They were able to receive a personalized education that met their individual needs and at the same time, we were able to impart to them our family’s Christian faith and values, by including those things in our curriculum and our everyday life.”
Paula stressed no family is perfect. Even the best ones have their bad days. But that should not influence a parent’s decision to homeschool their child.
“Parents who love their kids and persevere through the process – even parents without any special training – can and do raise happy, well-rounded, highly educated children,” she said. “Americans have come to accept that non-traditional education models can work – and can even work better than the government model left over from the Industrial Revolution.”
Paula recently wrote about Common Core on PJ Media. She said college readiness assessment tests (like the SAT and ACT) being aligned with new standards will affect homeschooling parents’ control over curriculum.
“It’s not a stretch to envision the government at some point tying federal financial aid to compliance with the Common Core standards,” Paula said. “Homeschoolers shouldn’t think they’ll be safe from the effects of this attempt to nationalize education standards.”
Paula said a great way to fight back is through the grassroots activism happening now. Just because a concerned parent isn’t an influential politician doesn’t mean they can’t have an impact.
“Soccer moms with cell phones are facing down powerful lawmakers, lobbyists, and billions of dollars of opposition – and they’re making a difference and beginning to rack up some significant policy victories,” she said.
Passion and concern are great, but it’s important for grassroots activists to know how to take a stand.
“There are proven ways to communicate, to win elections, to raise funds, to use social media effectively,” Paula said. “The Leadership Institute has spent years figuring out the best practices for these very specific skill sets and LI is very generous in passing that knowledge on to others in the conservative movement.”
Paula’s son Ryan attended Hillsdale College and interned at LI during the summer following his sophomore year.
“LI trains conservatives to win and succeed,” Paula said. “Whether you’re an activist, a writer, a candidate, a non-profit, or a campaign volunteer, there’s something at LI that can help you do it better.”
Paula has taken a webinar, Strategic Messaging Starts with Mission, and a Campaign Management School (CMS) from LI this year.
“I’m currently helping a candidate with messaging and communications for an upcoming campaign and the things I learned at the CMS are an invaluable resource,” she said.
Paula made a difference. She fought back against something she knew was wrong. In doing so, she opened doors to other activism opportunities and provided a blueprint for individuals who want to get involved.
Please congratulate Paula Bolyard on her ongoing work in the movement and for receiving LI’s Conservative Leader Award.
To nominate a Leadership Institute graduate or faculty member for the Conservative Leader Award or Conservative Leader-In-Training Award, please contact LI's Director of External Affairs Carol Wehe, at Carol@LeadershipInstitute.org.
The Leadership Institute offers over 40 types of training programs, working with more than 1,441 conservative campus groups, and helping employers connect with conservative jobseekers. Since the Institute’s 1979 founding, more than 143,000 conservative activists, students, and leaders have been trained. Graduates include members of Congress, state legislators, local officials, media personalities, and conservative organization leaders. For more information, please visit: www.LeadershipInstitute.org.