In Memory of
Colorado Homeschool Freedom Fighter
It is with a sad and heavy heart I announce the passing of my dear friend, Treon Elaine Goossen, on May 9, 2016. In between homeschooling seven children, she worked to bring homeschoolers together from across the state to discuss and decide how best to go about making home education legal in Colorado. In the early 1980s, parents were allowed to homeschool, but they were required to use specific curricula, their syllabus for the entire school year had to be submitted for approval before the school year began. Even if they’d been approved the year before, there was no guarantee they’d be approved this year. Everything was decided on a case-by-case basis, with no rules, no law to go by. It was all subjective. Parents were frequently and arbitrarily denied, told they had to put their child into public school or face jail and have their kids taken away. It was a terrible, stressful time for Colorado homeschoolers.
Like many parents, Treon chose to defy the state, stand up for her beliefs and homeschool anyway. Back then, families had to have escape plans in place ahead of time: if you see the truant officer or social services, run and hide in the cornfields; run to the neighbor’s house; duck down into the basement and be very quiet. The escape plan depended on whether you lived in the country or city. How accepting your neighbors were was also something to be factored. Did they understand your plight? Or would they turn you in? Treon decided to do something about the madness. She gathered homeschool leaders from all over the state to discuss what the law should say. She went door-to-door talking to parents, ran up a huge long-distance phone bill (no cell phones back then, very expensive landline phone plans, like $3.95 for 5 minutes). She then sat down with former Gov. Bill Owens, homeschool parent Rory Schneeberger, and support group leaders to craft the wording of the law we have today. Next came the battle of getting it approved by the Colorado legislature. Most elected officials were dead set against it. Treon talked to all of them, sat in on legislative sessions, listened to arguments, testified before both the House and Senate. Finally the bill was introduced on the floor of the House for a vote. It failed. But she didn’t give up. She and Rory and Gov. Owens tried again the following year. The Bill finally became law in 1987.
When C.R.S. 22-33-104 — better known as the Colorado Home School Law — went into effect, it was a time for celebration! But it was short lived. Treon found the work had only just begun. Almost immediately Colorado lawmakers and special interests jumped in to add regulations, weaken the law or kill it outright. Someone with a level head, an eye for detail, and an enormous amount of patience needed to keep an eye on these people, be our ‘legislative watchdog’. That someone became Treon. For the next 28 years she acted as our eyes, ears and voice in the state legislature. She attended committee meetings, testified at hearings, defended parents in court, fought for their educational rights against social services. She kept us notified about the dangers lurking on the horizon. Not a year has passed without some new threat. They just can’t leave our law alone.
Rocky Mountain Education Connection wouldn’t have existed without Treon. She taught me everything she knew, advised me, encouraged me, and connected me with other homeschool leaders across the county so we could brainstorm and share news. It’s very likely you wouldn’t have home school as a viable educational option right now if it hadn’t been for Treon. She dedicated her life to fighting for your childrens’ rights, even though you never knew it. She was Colorado’s Homeschool Freedom Fighter. We owe her so much.
Treon Elaine Goossen 1954-2016
View Treon’s obituary
Treon was honored on the Senate Floor, and Christian Home Educators of Colorado published a tribute to her
The Homeschool Legal Defense Association also honored her
An interview with Treon in in a 2012 Westword article.
Treon writes about her greatest fear for current homeschoolers.
Watch her in action in 2014.
And again in 2015.