Strength That Sustains
- Tuesday, March 05, 2002
When HSLDA members who have joined charter schools, independent study programs, or other types of public school oversight home-school programs, are informed that they are no longer eligible for membership, we consistently receive surprised responses. Therefore, we are devoting much of this "Court Report" to the issue of charter schools in an attempt to fully explain our concern with this growing trend.
Charter school advocates argue that more choices in education are good and that competition will improve public schools. The charter school movement has gained its greatest success in California where there are 280 charter schools, about 80 of which are home-school programs. Legislatures are now addressing charter schools in other states.
One of HSLDA's primary objectives is to establish the right of parents to independently teach their children at home free from government intervention. This is independent private home schooling. When HSLDA began in 1983, this was the only kind of home schooling that existed. In many states, home schooling was illegal. The same education establishment that fought home schooling years ago is beginning to see benefits of charter school home-school programs. Is that because they are beginning to see the benefits of home schooling? The answer is a resounding, "No!"
In February 1997, the American School Boards Journal published the results of its survey of public school administrators regarding their views of home education. All administrators surveyed thought that any other kind of education was superior to home schooling and only 21% thought that home schoolers met state standards for education. Seventy-one percent of superintendents whose state or districts set standards for home schoolers said that that regulation was not enough.
If that's how most members of the education establishment feel about parents teaching their own children, what is the motivation for the newfound acceptance of charter school home-school programs? You may have guessed it - money and control.
Public schools are funded based on attendance. The higher the student enrollment, the more money that is received. State-funded charter schools are funded exactly the same way.
|Who has jurisdiction?
Home schoolers who enroll in charter school programs voluntarily place themselves under the authority of the state, thereby surrendering their status as private home schoolers. HSLDA's purpose and goal is to advance private home schooling. Only families engaged in private home schooling are eligible for membership.
When a home schooler enrolls in a charter school home school program, that school receives the same amount of funds for the student as if the child were attending a brick and mortar public school. The difference is that the charter school does not have to provide teachers, classrooms, and all the other related expenses of an on-site program. The charter school is providing less for the students while receiving the same amount of money, an obviously profitable enterprise.
Control is the other side of the coin. Charter school programs typically require certified teacher oversight, home inspections, curriculum approval and mandatory testing. Additionally, because state-funded charter school programs are public schools, religious curriculum cannot be the primary means used to educate the child.
Distrust of parents' ability to teach their own children, even those enrolled in charter school programs, was pronounced in a June 15, 2001, San Francisco Chronicle article on legislation the California State Board of Education President Reed Hastings and several legislators plan to introduce. The bill would mandate that charter school home school programs be funded in proportion to the frequency the child's work is reviewed by a certified teacher at the local school. Why? According to the article, the sponsors of the bill were concerned that parents could be fudging on their children's work samples and attendance reports as well as in proctoring their own children's state achievement tests.
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