Homeschooling and the Public School Resources
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.