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Homeschooling and the Public School Resources

Updated on December 1, 2009
RGraf profile image

Rebecca Graf is a seasoned writer with nearly a decade of experience and degrees in accounting, history, and creative writing.

Homeschooling is growing at amazing rates.  Just in the last ten years it has increased over 74%.  This is not just a passing fad.  It is not anything new.  Schooling in the family’s home has been around since the beginning of civilization.  It just lost its popularity as organized school systems began to dominate the educational scene.  Now with the rise of homeschooling families, the resource options are also increasing.  You can find thousands of companies that offer supplies and curriculum from all spectrums of the educational world.  You can find websites with free materials.  Now, the public schools are getting  in on the homeschooling scene.

So Many Resources

The new trend in homeschooling is the option to register with the local school district and yet continue to school at home on your own schedule.  What benefit do we get from that?  Various schools are offering homeschooling parents the chance to have all non-religious materials and some educational services for reimbursement.  For example, I register my children at the local school.  I get up to $1300 per kid of materials.  They actually pay for the items that I request.  No religious material or other restrictive items are included.  Another local system gives up to $2000 per student with a $5000 family cap.  The parents have to purchase the material first, get it approved by the school, and then they are reimbursed.  There are various programs out there being tried by the school systems.

The homeschoolers are faced with several pros and cons with the program.  Money is saved.  The cost of homeschooling can be high especially if you are schooling more than one student.  This program also allows the student to usually attend two classes in the school.  Some schools restrict it to only electives.  Other schools allow any class to be taken by the homeschooling student.  What could be wrong with this set up?  Some of the school systems have complete say in what material is being taught that they purchase.  Some will not allow religious publishers.  Others will not allow piano lessons or physical education equipment.  While money can be saved it can become a headache and the freedom of homeschooling could be taken away and handed back to the school systems.

Why are school systems doing this?  They make out like bandits.  Let’s say that for each kid the school system gets $10,000 per student.  If you register your homeschool student, they get $10,000.  They give you $2,000 for your supplies.  They get $8,000 without having to “spend” anymore on the student.  There might be a teacher or two that interact.  Otherwise, they made out with eight grand in their pocket.

For many people this is a win-win situation.  The school gets extra funds.  The parents get a financial break and additional resources for educating their children.  For others this is a nuclear bomb in disguise just waiting to explode.  There is a fear that this gives the government an extended arm into the homeschooling realm where dictates of curriculum, methods, and structure will be enforced.  The thought that the government is luring homeschoolers back into their clutches is growing as they dangle enticing incentives.  A few districts have rules for homeschoolers where they have to register with the government each year, take standardized testing, and have a certified teacher overseeing the education. 

Is There a Concern?

Is this is such a great benefit for homeschoolers, why are so many homeschooling organizations panicking at the slow rise of regulations appearing? Alarms are being sounded as more and more families are getting on board with the government homeschooling programs. They are allowing the government to help purchase supplies and use the schools’ resources. Most justify taking the offered resources because they are paying taxes into that same school system. Why shouldn’t they enjoy the benefits of their tax dollars if they are going to have to pay them?

The reasons for homeschooling are as numerous as the families who enjoy it. Some families decide to homeschool their children for religious reasons or fear that the morals being taught in the school systems are not what they desire for their students. Others feel that the local school districts do not have adequate educational opportunities for children. Many chose the homeschooling experience because of physical or mental handicaps. Will their homeschooling freedoms be jeopardized by using government programs? Will the government step in and begin to dictate homeschooling daily lives?

Up Close and Personal

We have three children ages 13, 11, and 7 that we homeschool.  Our decisions were not based on religious reasons though I am taking advantage of the homeschooling atmosphere and have a Bible class for each child.  My year away working in another part of the state took a toll on my family life.  Homeschooling was decided to help strengthen the family ties that were so weakened.  In addition to that we were putting in several hours per child each night on their homework.  There was no time for family time since they were always working on school work.  If we were going to put in so many hours trying to explain their lessons to them we might as well homeschool.  This was the best decision we ever made.  Our family is growing closer and my children’s education is advancing so much faster.  They now have the opportunity to learn Latin.  My son and daughter are loving it.  My son is gifted in math and the school refused to advance him where he was challenged.  Now, this fifth grader is learning algebra.  We are able to carry our schoolwork with us on trips.  We mixed a trip to Kentucky to see family while conducting school on the road.  There was so much history to stop and visit along the way.  We are teaching our children that we never stop learning.  The flexibility of homeschooling is wonderful and the time we are spending with the children is great.

We are currently taking advantage of the local school system that is paying for their supplies.  They paid for all supplies that were not strictly religious, would not pay for capital items, and no services such as piano lessons.  This is the first year this district is doing this so some of this might change.  They did say that material published by religious companies were fine, just no Bible material.  Another local district is pulling back on services and are beginning to deny any material with even the word “God” in it.  One book required for a student was comparing the Code of Hammurabi and the Code of Moses since they were the two biggest laws from the ancient world that affect us today.  This purchase was denied because the Bible was mentioned.  The point of the book was to compare the ancient laws and how they have impacted civilizations since.  It was still denied.  They are beginning to lower the amount they actually pay out for material and are keeping more and more of the money though they still tell you that you have $2000 available. 

It seems that with all good things, some bad can come out of it.  We use it because I have lost my job, and I am collecting unemployment.  Our income dropped drastically and the purchase of the supplies can be great when you are just starting out though there are so many ways to get free or lower cost material.  I do not mind purchasing the religious material.  I would not expect taxes to pay for that.  But is this really a way for the government to get into my daily school life and control how and what I teach my children?  Will my children be pulled back to the same level as others in their grades instead of advancing in the areas where they are gifted?

So much is there for the future generations to excel and stand tall with wisdom and knowledge to lead our country and their children’s children to amazing heights.  There is so much criticism about our educational system compared to other countries.  Are we shooting ourselves in the foot over pride and control issues?  Is the government so fixated on money and control that they are trying to find back roads into the homeschooling world in order to sabotage it?  Why isn’t the education of our children really the focus by government and lobbying groups instead of how much and who leads it?  Like so much in life it is not black and white, but there is a lot to consider here as we take steps that could drastically impact the future of our country.


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    • Kathryn L Hill profile image

      Kathryn L Hill 6 years ago from LA

      Actually, home schooling is great for students who are not doing well in public school for whatever reason. Some are just not suited for sitting in desks, staring at teachers like zombies and automatons, and not interacting on a real level. Home schooling is great for learning how to learn, guide one's own will according to intrinsic motivation and interest. Home schooling is great for true learning and developing an understanding of the world. Parents who can do it are the ones who have the most patience and intelligence. I tried it and when I found out how difficult it was, gave up. Perhaps parents will be able to receive training in the future.

    • profile image

      devan 6 years ago

      Hi im homeschooled and i go to my nearest public school for electives. i have one for first hour and 2 for fifth and sixth. i was told that i couldnt stay at the school in a private room to do homeschool work between my classes. because otherwise i would have to drive to the school then leave then go back to she school again instead of just working in the private room and doing my work there so i didnt have to drive around so much. is it really illegal? if s why?

    • Lamme profile image

      Lamme 7 years ago

      Excellent hub. I homeschool my 5 children and I have thought long and hard about the resources available by the public school system. My oldest takes one virtual class, but we have not ventured into any of the other resources. Thanks for writing this, it's very informative. Too bad more people don't understand what homeschooling is all about.

    • profile image

      WildIris 7 years ago

      Something you did not talk about was accountability. While the local school or charter school as a governing body may require you to submit work samples in exchange for the dollars they give you, what you do at home is your choice. Yes, it is true both charter schools and their sponsoring districts and local schools make out like bandits if you choose to home school through them. A family could expect to see only $500.00 out of the $5000.00 ear-marked for each student by the state. Apparently the remaining funds undistributed to the families goes for administrative purposes?

      Accepting public resources to school your child at home offers nothing more than extra funding to your family to purchase materials, a paper trail for regular school to use for placement if your child should return to public school, and the possibility to participate in group activities such as field trips, but you pay the for this out of your own pocket.

      Abe Normal~ You should take the time to educate your self on the topic. Any nutjob can become a teacher too. Socialization is more an issue for kids who go to public school. For the most part, parents who home school their children care deeply about their child's education and sacrifice their time to provide that education.

    • RGraf profile image

      Rebecca Graf 8 years ago from Wisconsin

      Abe, this is huge misconception on homeschooling and even the public school systems. My husband has been a licensed teacher in three states. The minute he got his master's degree he was continually denied permanent employment. One person looked right at him at said that without his master's degree they would have taken him immediately. Many of our friends are teachers who were forced into retirement not long after obtaining their masters. The teacher's union requires much higher pay that the school systems are willing to pay for higher degrees.

      Several homeschooling parents are licensed teachers who have left their jobs to teach their children because they refused to have them go through some really bad systems. Not all public school systems are bad and neither are all homeschooling parents ignorant. Every one I know have multiple college degrees and are highly intelligent. The homeschool students are amazingly bright. They are so much more advanced than others their own age. A friend of mine's children have all graduated two years early and are excelling in college.

      Social interaction is not near the issue that many make them out to be. There are so many groups that homeschoolers are involved in. My son is in various sports teams throughout two counties and in boy scouts. My daughters are involved in after-school activities with other kids and even in a band.

      I might not be a "professional" teacher in the teacher's union mind, but I have graduated from college, taught for almost twenty years in various environments, was number 2 in my class, and ended up teaching my children's public school teachers in a few topics that they admitted not being familiar with.

      The public school could be the best solution for some children. But homeschooling might be the only life saver for others. If my son had stayed in public schools, he would have been kept back in several subjects that in reality he was several grades ahead. My daughter would have failed because she needed more one on one with her math that the teachers looked right at me and said that they did not have time to give. She is now understanding math for the very first time and is beginning to enjoy it. For us this was the best decision and I think that my children are not hurt at all by this decision.

    • Abe Normal profile image

      Abe Normal 8 years ago from Gigantic Ocean Seaboard

      Most schools require a Master's degree or similar for employment as teacher.

      Any nutjob can qualify for Homeschooler, and then there's those poor kids who can't escape such parents. I thank Christ I was taught by professionals instead of the parents who wiped my feces off the wall.

      And then there's the interaction with other kids. What could be more important? I guess the sheer arrogance and conceit of homeschool parental units, legends in their own mind. What a narcissistic society it is, God have pity. Obama ought to feel right at home.

      -Abe Normal,

      Ars longa, vita brevis

    • janiek13 profile image

      Mary Krenz 8 years ago from Florida's Space Coast

      God Forbid, a child read a Bible. What is the world coming to when the school system treats God as a bad word. Bravo for you, having a Bible class. I an not strictly religious, but the Bible is rich with moral lessons. I loved your hub. I agree, the government is way too much in our homes and they need to back off. Keep fighting the good fight! What a great example for your children.

    • dusanotes profile image

      dusanotes 8 years ago from Windermere, FL

      We didn't home-school our children, but our schools were always close around our home. But the reason for home schooling isn't proximity of the public schools, it's the inadequacy of regular schooling. I know of several who have home taught and they kids seem to thrive and, in many cases, come out with superior educations than those in schools where so much time is lost in disciplining students or in student assemblies, etc. Thanks, Don White

    • febriedethan profile image

      febriedethan 8 years ago from Indonesia

      Homeschooling are getting popular in my country, but I have not decided to home schooled my daughter yet, I registered her on local Christian public school and she loved it. Thank you for sharing.

    • SweetiePie profile image

      SweetiePie 8 years ago from Southern California, USA

      I think it is great you decided to homeschool your kids, especially since that is what works for your family. When I was younger sometimes I wished I could have been home schooled because kids at school can be cruel, but now if I could go back I would not change a thing. Public school was good for me, but is not for everyone. I think it would be better to home school your kids then put them in a private school though. Also, if you can afford it many universities now offer online high school classes for kids, which is a good option for those who want to home school, but are not sure how to go about it.

    • Veronica Allen profile image

      Veronica Allen 8 years ago from Georgia

      This information is very much what I needed. I am currently homeschooling my four and two year old (I've been homeschooling my four year old since she could sit up and pay attention). And in talking with some of our local public school teachers, I was informed that there was a good chance that my four year old would be held back since she is so advanced at this time. I will definetly look into these options that you wrote about. I feel that every little bit helps. Thank you so much.