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    • amacbean16

      There are more than 1.5 million homeschoolers in the USA and the number is growing. The public school system's funding is based in large part on how many students attend each district, so it shouldn't come as a surprise that many districts are starting to woo local homeschoolers under their umbrella with promises of funding.

      After we had been homeschooling for 4 years, paying for everything out of pocket even when finances were tight, we became aware of a few charter schools in our state that would foot the curriculum bill as long as we were purchasing approved, secular materials. That's a win-win, right?

      Your thoughts?

    • amacbean16

      We homeschool in Oregon and the state is incredibly hands-off here when it comes to overseeing homeschooling.

      Signing up for a charter school that facilitates home education comes with a lot more oversight. For some that's a boon, for others it's a necessary evil to get funding, and for still others it's a deal-breaker and they soldier on fully independent.

      We've used three different charter schools at this point and they've varied in terms of their expectations and also their contributions to my children's education. Here are some things I've noticed:

      - They pay for mandatory state testing so I don't have to, but they also require additional tests during the year. These take time. One school at least allowed me to see the test scores in detail so they could inform my teaching. Another school said the scores were for the "teachers" only and assured me they'd let me know of any red flags. This caught me off guard since my kids had never met any other teacher but me! Apparently they were referring to behind-the-scenes educators employed by the charter school?

      - They oversee our curriculum purchases. This might give new homeschoolers confidence, but I saw it as a hoop to jump through. I had to advocate for several things on my purchase list (like math that was two grade levels ahead... because that's where my child was but it was before any test results had come back so the school was skeptical.) I also got some push back because of religious curriculum we had purchased on our own. We had to write down a secular curriculum for that subject area even though I wasn't going to use secular curriculum. That seemed silly and somewhat disingenuous to me.

      - This year we're receiving iPads for our kids to use, an audiobook subscription, money for piano lessons, stacks of great books to use, "extras" that match my kids' specific interests like origami and logic puzzles, and we're also going to fun get-togethers and field trips organized by the school.

      So we continue to use a charter school and I continue to have mixed feelings about it. Some would even say we aren't actually homeschooling at this point, but come by my house in the middle of a school day and it sure looks like it!

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      I'm stuck in the revolving door about charter schools and the funding that would be so advantageous in so many ways. Yet, still reluctant to relinquish some freedoms for the financial benefit that would be so very helpful to us. Ipads, curriculum, field trips, and classes paid for? That sounds like a wonderful dream come true. Yet...?

      Not so many months ago we met with an Oregon Education Legislator that shared some insight-- I hope I convey it correctly. Several of the charters in Oregon that provide these funds and programs did so without government permission or approval. These legislators will "soon" be taking action to dissolve them and the funds that they offer so many homeschooling families. In place of programs there is a bill that would give a greater amount of funds from taxes to be alotted to each homeschooling parent per child in the form of a debit card. The funds could be used however the family sees fit in the education of the child, or saved and carried over for use for college tuition. Other states such as Arizona have programs in practice now. It would be nice to have less oversight and more freedom and not registered to a public school at the same time. It's an interesting concept for sure.

    • af

      I'm skeptical, and wonder if this could eventually harm homeschoolers with too much bureaucracy. However, I just joined a local homeschool charter because it fit my needs. I am homeschooling just one child this year-- a kinder with social anxiety, and he needed a small dose of peer-learning. The charter has a community day once per week, and the rest of the time we do what we want one-on-one. It's been great so far. I'll admit I'm nervous about how "schooly" it is. He spent his first day there in tests and I nearly died of boredom. And what happens if I disagree with the teacher's curriculum choices or methods? Out of politeness, I ought to let her do things her way, but I'm teaching him 4 days a week, so shouldn't she be following my scope and sequence? Of course she can't. She has a room full of kids. Anyway, I'm curious. We'll see how it goes.

    You've been invited!