By Annette M. Hall
Updated: May 26, 2005
I think it's curious that when those of us (independent homeschoolers) who try to gently voice our growing uneasiness over the charter school epidemic within the homeschool community, we are immediately labeled anti-charter, no matter how valid our concern.
Many who are pro-charter school say they love the numerous programs and field trips offered at state expense and will cite this as their main reason for joining. Vendors offering dance lessons, gymnastics, art programs and the like, have figured out charter schools can and will pay much more than the going rate for these services.
I can remember when independent homeschoolers joined together to provide regular field trips and quality programs, available at discounted rates. Providers recognized the majority of homeschooling families are single-income households and were paying these expenses out of pocket, cash in hand.
While living in Sacramento, CA we had four very active homeschooling groups but participation began to dwindle, as more students were enticed into charter school enrollment. It's sad to see once vibrant and active homeschool groups die a slow death. The state take-over of the homeschool community has been gradual and deliberate.
I've been reading a great deal these past few weeks about marketing and branding. It's almost as if the public school system hired a marketing firm to assist them because they are pulling off a smooth marketing campaign. My best guess is that savvy businessman Bill Bennett had something to do with the recent changes and approaches. If not him, someone just as clever.
If you don't know anything about Bill Bennett, complete an internet search using google.com, you will be amazed at his background. The implementation of his K-12 program could only have been pulled off by someone with his connections. After all, an individual can purchase his program for $1,295.00, yet he charges school districts $4,800.00 for the exact same program. Seems like price gouging to me. Interesting. Back to my point...
The public schools have done everything they can to neutralize the homeschool movement, right down to absconding with our name. I have to ask myself why? Why wouldn't the public schools simply call their students, charter school students or something describing their ownership? It's the old adage, divide and conquer. The public schools have been successful in entering our camp, taking away our identity by embracing it themselves.
The choice argument many make (i.e., we are entitled to educational choice), doesn't sit well with me either. It's reminiscent of the 20-year plus abortion debate. We've been hearing the "choice" mantra for years. We all have freedom of choice but it doesn't make it any less a child, and saying a public school is a homeschool doesn't make it so. Free citizens have a choice, to accept government scraps at public expense or fund the education of our children ourselves. The adage certainly applies, "He who pays the piper, calls the tune."
What I see here is people wanting a choice at taxpayer expense. This whole entitlement philosophy has gotten out of hand. All these wonderful "government services" people are so fond of; strip us of our voice and our money.
We can't have it both ways. Either we want to be a free people, with the ability to make our choices and choose our own paths, or we are slaves to the system. Many services, in years gone by were provided for with local dollars (local control) or by volunteers (such as the fire department). They now have huge operating budgets.
Why do people have such a hard time taking responsibility for their own lives? Is it too much to ask? I've been watching the legislation concerning charter schools and every year the state is tightening the screws ever so slightly. If my children were enrolled, I would have removed them long ago. We haven't seen the end of the tightening, yet. I can see the writing on the wall. I only hope we can stop this hemorrhage and that independent homeschoolers don't find themselves in a mess because of the charter school stampede.
It would be very easy for us to mind our own business and not risk offending anyone. California Homeschool Network (CHN) as an organization has been very friendly and accepting of charter school members. They are free to join and voice their opinions, unlike many other homeschooling organizations that now ban charter school members from joining. CHN promotes the free sharing of ideas and ostracizes no one. However, those of us (homeschoolers) who have been around awhile would be neglectful if we didn't attempt to warn you of the direction we see things going.
We are not the enemy. We are caring individuals who are trying to sound the trumpet and help others see past the money the state dangles. It's very tempting and sometimes I even feel a twinge of jealousy. I can't afford all the wonderful extras that many charter and public ISP families enjoy. Of course on the other side of the coin, many of you could well afford those things the state currently foots the bill for and that doesn't sit well with me, either.
I do not consider you the enemy. I consider you dear friends and I'm trying to share the hard truth as I see it. I'm worried about the future of homeschooling and I'm not about to let the fact that someone might get angry with me for speaking up deter me from identifying the dangers I see before us.
Let me be absolutely clear: I've made some pretty blanket statements. There are some families who need to be in public programs for many reasons, primarily "high risk" factors. Those are your own reasons and you are the best judge of what your family needs, not me. I'm speaking primarily to those who are riding the money train. The ones who can afford to be independent and choose not to because they just can't stand the thought of paying taxes and not getting their nickels worth of services.
By: Lisa Guidry
Posted: May 26, 2005
I am from Texas - and your article is extremely timely in light of some things going on here in the "Free" state of Texas. The legislature has considered several bills this spring that would give us "access" to the PS. While this seems to be "wonderful", those of us who have been around awhile are screaming at the top of our lungs that this would be in line with "give an inch take a mile" trap.
So, back to the article - I applaud you and your great statements. We are in a time where those of us in the homeschooling community need to be very cautious in our dealings with the government. We need to be highly suspicious of anything that even looks or smells "easy".
I have been homeschooling for over 15 years (2 graduated and 8 to go) with about 18 years left on this journey and we pay in excess of 15-20K in school/property taxes with no relief for what we pay out of pocket for our homeschooling supplies. And yet, I will continue to do so without any government assistance of any sort because God gave these children to my husband and I - not the government or the NEA or the TEA and I willingly and proudly accept that responsibility to raise and educate these children.
Sorry - didn't mean to get on my soapbox. I get very frustrated that so many new (young) homeschooling parents are so willing to give up freedoms for convenience and ease. Ggggrrrrrrrr.
Thanks for the article and thanks for listening.
Mother of the Tribe!
(Using Bill Bennett's K12 Curriculum)
By Mary Leggewie
The "virtual academy" has come to California. Rather than rely on what I had been hearing from others, I decided to attend a recruiting meeting for the California Virtual Academy. I attended one locally, and then I attended one within walking distance of the CHEA convention that raised the ire of the California Home Educator's Association (CHEA) and many independent homeschoolers. More...
By Mary Leggewie
March 1999, updated April 2000
They waved $100 per month PER kid in front of the parents (8 moms were there, 24 locally have already signed up) and told them this was their "mad/fun money." What a temptation to some of those moms with 5-7 school-aged kids! It's hard to turn down that kind of money when many are struggling to buy groceries. More...
The very nature, language and essence of homeschooling are being challenged and even co-opted by a vast array of
emerging educational programs which may be based in the home, but are funded by government tax dollars,
bringing inevitable government controls.
These new "home-based" publicly-funded entities are variously called: charter schools, cyber-charters, e-schools, Independent Study Programs (ISP), dual enrollment, Blended Schools Programs (BSP), Programs for Non-Public Students (PNPS), Public School Alternative Programs (PSAP), virtual schools, academies, community schools, home bound, and other newly devised terms and concepts.
There is a profound possibility that homeschooling is not only on the brink of losing its distinctiveness, but also is in grave danger of losing its independence.
Sign the "We Stand for Homeschooling" resolution and encourage others to sign it.
Annette M. Hall,
California Homeschool Network
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