Monday, August 28, 2006

The Online Charter Homeschool Myth

I'm sure I'm beginning to sound like a broken record, but the myth that those that use online charter schools are homeschoolers just keeps rearing it's ugly head. Many states are working overtime to get homeschoolers back into the public school system. And it appears some parents are being persuaded that online charters are indeed homeschooling. From Cerulean Sanctum,

Today, my son formally starts Kindergarten with Ohio Virtual Academy, a homeschooling program chartered as a public school, so our taxpayer dollars go
to our homeschooling!
For the record, I don't care what curriculum Dan or anyone else chooses to homeschool their children. It's your right as a parent to pick whatever you feel is appropriate. But not all who call themselves homeschoolers ARE homeschoolers. Some are public schoolers at home. Let's not get sloppy and allow the term "homeschooling" to become generic for anyone who just decides that the public school building is not to their liking but the curriculum and state control are just fine by them. I'm not saying the term "homeschooling" should only be reserved for those who teach the Spunky approved way, but that the term should not be so broad as to include those that homeschool the state approved way either.

Terminology is important.

It is important that the definition of homeschooling be determined by who the student is ultimately accountable. If the parent holds the authority they are homeschooling...if another entity holds the authority they are not. Keep in mind; I am not saying the parent has lost their complete authority in the home. They have just decided to allow another entity to hold the authority for the education of their children. In public/parent partnerships the school determines curriculum, grading, etc. The parent is a facilitator who follows the state guidelines, curriculum, and tests. This is attractive to many for a lot of reasons (mostly financial) but it isn't homeschooling.

A distinction is necessary to ensure that the freedom to homeschool is not lost through increased regulation. If we combine the two groups then when the state seeks to increase regulation or make changes to the "schooling at home" crowd the "homeschooling" crowd could be affected by the changes and potentially lose some of the authority to direct the education of their children.

Here's an article that sums it up pretty well.

The foundation of the original fight for homeschooling was freedom. Many virtual academies and cyber charter schools begin with leniency, but over the years,rules creep in, subtle new policies begin to crop up, and gradual restrictions choke out your choices at home like crab grass run amok. This sets a precedent to increase regulations on other students who are educated at home, whether they're enrolled in a virtual academy or not.
A distinction is important, not to cast judgement, but for clarity in who is affected by increased regulation. That's a distinction all should welcome. If the parent ever decides to dissolve the partnership, or abandon the cyber charter school for another way, they will have the freedom to do so without having to prove anything or seek the permission of the state.

So Dan, I do hope you'll add the myth that "online cyber charters are homeschoolers" to your list of homeschooling myths. If we each do our part, homeschoolers across the nation will continue to enjoy the freedom to homeschool.

Follow up post: This Should Settle It. The state agrees with Spunky online charters are indeed public school students.

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