Wednesday, September 29, 2010

It's Not About What That's About...


There’s been an educational brouhaha across the nation lately. I’ve held off blogging about it until I had more facts but I think it’s important to present you with what I have so far.

First, a little background. Online schools are just that, a school online. It’s like going to the local public or private school except your child sits at your computer desk. They sign in to homeroom and go to classes online. They have teachers for different subjects or maybe one overall to monitor their progress. Someone other than the parent teaches them, tests them and keeps records of their progress. Some of these online schools are accredited, meaning they “count” as bonafide schools in the state you live in.

Are they homeschools?

Technically no, because the parent isn’t teaching the child and keeping their records. They are, however, considered alternative homeschools because the child is at home. They’re handy if the primary homeschooling parent (PHP) is ill and can’t keep up with lessons, or if the PHP has to care for ill or aging parents. In some cases the PHP may feel unqualified to teach a certain grade or class (I can help with that, let me know if you have that situation). There are times when an online school is God’s answer, but it’s alternative homeschool.

Government (state) schools have become more than a little miffed by the homeschooling movement. There are always the snide comments that homeschool isn’t real school and other insults but as we’ve grown, government schools have had to concede our viability. One of the reasons they aren’t keen on us isn’t because they think we have inferior schools, it’s because they lose tax dollars for every seat that isn’t filled with a child. Approximately 10K per child - give or take a few thousand depending on which state it is. Add up the number of current homeschoolers, multiply by 10K and you’ll see how much potential Federal cash they’re losing - you’ll understand their whine better.

Some schools cover this by enrolling local homeschoolers in the public school anyway, either without the parent’s knowledge (which happened to us in Boston) or by telling the parents this is necessary which is a lie. Control has been the name of the game from day one. Who’s minding the children? Surely not the parents!

Is it any wonder someone’s gotten savvy lately in the public school system? The latest gig is a public state-funded, state-accredited online school that you can do in your home. Yeah, you’re a homeschooler now! Yeah, that’s the ticket!

This new program called K-12 is apparently available in every state but gets renamed as it’s adopted, sort of like the MCAS was. It’s public school online. And you don’t even need internet access or a computer, the state will give you that for free. Aren’t you interested yet? I hear bureaucrats sneezing into their hands at my breakfast table, “Get with the program, damn it.” It’s not intrusion if you let them in the door.

Here's the link to the news story about the Pennsylvania school that used their school issued computers to spy on families.

Is the free curriculum and computer deal attractive? To those of us who’ve given our life blood to fight for homeschool freedom for the last two decades, this is repulsive. The state will have control, not the parent, which is what homeschool circumvents. To those of us who have sacrificed that second income to protect and nurture our own, this sounds like the deal of the century. How many times have I thought if there was a decent public school around, I wouldn’t mind sending my children? (Usually in the heat of agonizing over a difficult math problem or yet another day of slogging through grammar when we all want to be at the park.)

But the truth is, if there was a decent public school around I still wouldn’t send my children because I am their teacher. I homeschool so I can teach them. They had the chance to go to an exclusive private school for free. We refused, because it’s not about what that’s about.

Recently a friend told me she read a letter sent home from a public school. It told parents they were homeschoolers because they helped their children with homework and took an active part in their child’s learning. It said they had every right to call themselves homeschoolers and enjoy the respect that homeschoolers receive. Besides being an outright fabrication, it would have been laughable if it wasn’t such a con. Public school parents are not homeschoolers, even if they help their children with homework. I'm not a politician if I give a speech.  And homeschoolers get very little respect even after decades of proven academic and life skill accomplishments.

So why are they blurring the lines?

For every child they get in public school at home, they'll get that Federal money and then again for the physical seat that is filled at the actual school. That’s a lotta dough, folks, and apparently enough to have some using emotional manipulation and telling lies.

I don’t know about you but I don’t spend 10K on one child’s curriculum per year and guess what? They don't either, nor will they. Never mind the student gets a free computer for the school year… those are less than $500. now and at bulk rate for a state order, probably less than $200. each, where's all the rest of the money going?

And what will the parent get? That's easy, the same public school control, I mean, headaches, minus the social interaction everyone’s been screaming about homeschoolers losing out on all these years. Funny how they aren’t worried about that anymore since they found a way to use homeschool to their advantage.

Here are three links you’ll find very interesting. The second one is a sad state of affairs for that family, but of course things would go that route, it’s the government school. Unsuspecting parents have no idea until they are ensnared by the system.  And sadder still, some of those implementing these things really think they are good ideas. 

For Massachusetts:

An Idaho family:

HSLDA's info:

I seriously doubt online public schools will go far. Many public school parents want others watching their children for them so they can get that second income. Who will babysit the children while the parents are at work? Law enforcement officials will not be happy with public homeschool children playing on the streets after school, that is if they sit down at the computer while their parents are away. It’s a disaster waiting in the wings. And then what? The public school will send someone to the home to make sure they are sitting at the computer? The new slogan will be "A social worker for every home!"

It’s interesting to me that the two systems in most disrepair in the US are the school system and the church system. The minute you start institutionalizing family, you’ve got a problem. Jesus didn’t send his disciples to Temple to get an education. He taught them the kingdom himself. And he didn’t send them to church either, he fellowshipped with them on hillsides, in gardens, and homes, wherever he was. I guess we’ve all been blurring the lines for a very long time. Home schools and home churches were the norm in the First Century and they worked. How and why we’ve gotten so far off course is not as important as getting back on course. Parents hanging out with their children is really what it is about.

photo credits:


  1. Thanks for the info, this is a great post. Financially the Federal government is broke and borrowing money all the time. So sadly the "Federal money" that the school systems are looking for may or may not be there very soon, at the very least it is really not their money to be handing out. Interestingly I work with a Dad whose daughter is part of one of these programs in California and as a public school program its probably on par with the others, but certainly not homeschool. Massachusetts recently dropped their MCAS testing standards to get some of that Federal Money

  2. Very interesting Joe. Here's another link that has more information and a comparison for homeschoolers enticed to the program by the freebies.

  3. I also had a Facebook convo with someone who does K12. She loves it and the free computer from Dell. It was interesting. It's on my profile page at - it's the post with the apple picture above. You might have to scroll down a bit to see.


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