Targeting Homeschoolers

Over at the NCSW yahoogroup, we’ve been having a discussion about soliciations. Mary Nix took a photo of all the mailings she received for just the year 2002. The picture contains mailings from two virtual schools in Ohio, K12Inc and OHVA. There were more mailings from other virtual schools. Now that these virtual schools are established they aren’t sending Mary as much mail.


K12 Inc advertising

Posted in K12Inc, Ohio, States Info/News | 1 Comment

Idaho: Virtual School Recruiting – Coming to a Church Near You

That’s right, we have telemarketers invading our homes and now virtual school recruiters are invading our churches on Sunday.

New online school targets Latinos
iSucceed Virtual High School also seeks to help at-risk kids get ahead
By Jessie Bonner
The Associated Press
Article Last Updated: 05/18/2008 12:37:43 AM MDT

BOISE, Idaho – The state’s newest virtual charter school is expected to go online this fall, but only after a strategic campaign to recruit Hispanics and teenagers at risk of quitting or getting kicked out of public high schools.
The nonprofit online charter school is part of Insight Schools, a Portland-based company that operates one of the largest networks of virtual high schools in country. With schools in Oregon, California, Washington and Wisconsin, Insight plans to open more this fall in Idaho, Minnesota and Kansas.

Green wants to maintain a Latino student population of at least 20 percent. As part of their recruiting strategy, administrators bought ads on Spanish radio stations, advertised classes with bilingual brochures and drafted Latino community leaders to serve on its board of directors.
When Green learned a large portion of the St. Mary’s Catholic Church congregation in downtown Boise was Latino, he wrangled an appointment to speak after Sunday services.
”If there was any way to get me to go to mass,” said Green, who is not Catholic, ”this would be it.”
(end of snips, see link above)

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Alaska DEED Rationale: Resemblance = Regulations

Lynn at Homeschool2.0 has a post up about a recent question and answer period the DEED (Alaska’s state education department) held concerning the proposed regulations that would affect in-district programs.  The bottom line of the reasoning for the proposed regulations is the resemblance to the statewide programs and as a way to establish “equity”.  That seems like shoddy reasoning to me.  

And there are people who wonder why homeschool advocates want to make a distinction between public schooling at home and homeschooling? Yes, there are those in government who don’t want to complicate their minds with details.  They reason like this, “Call them the same thing, regulate them the same way; and now it’s fair.”

Would it really be a stretch of imagination to think Alaska’s DEED could apply the same reasoning to its independent homeschoolers and those who call themselves “public homeschoolers”?

Posted in Alaska, Correspondence Schools, States Info/News | 4 Comments

Similar Educational Options, Yet Chemically Different

At the NCSW yahoogroup and blog, the reader will find a picture of a bridge. The bridge represents to me a bridge of communication that I have been interested in establishing for some time now with those who are involved in public school at home programs. I see homeschool parents at one end of the bridge, and parents whose children are enrolled in home-based public schooling at the other end. I see it as opposite ends because the differences between the two educational options are much like oil and water. Oil and water are both liquids. Yet when mixed, the mixture will soon separate. The reason for this is that the two are chemically distinct. Oil and water can be blended together, but it is an unstable relationship. Although, unstable relationships can be profitable and enjoyable. Salad wouldn’t quite be the same without salad dressing. :) I envision that through the group we are able to meet in the middle of the bridge together without fear of the bridge being sabotaged by either side.

At NCSW, the goal isn’t unity between two groups of parents to strengthen educational choice. The goal is understanding what polarizes us with our focus on our two different educational options. We want to know answers to questions such as:

  • Is homeschooling being negatively impacted by public school at home programs?
  • How might homeschool parents and home-based public school parents work together in ways that are beneficial to both of the two educational options?
  • Why it is that online homeschool discussions have the tendency to deteriorate when the topic of public school at home arises? What can we do to prevent this from happening?
  • Are the two educational options able to comfortably co-exist, side by side?
  • What things should we understand are not going to change among the two groups?
  • How might our differing perspectives be a stumbling block for communication?

One thing I would like to leave the reader with is Shawna’s experience with a public school at home program. I believe homeschool advocates find it a reason to celebrate when a child is able to get out of failing public schools into something better. However, there are too many experiences of parents like Shawna who are feeling overwhelmed and dismayed with the public school program their children are enrolled in. In such cases, homeschool advocates are quite willing, unapologetically, to point out the reason for their dismay and frustation, and offer a possible, better alternative for that particular family called, independent homeschooling.

Posted in About NCSW, Commentaries | 4 Comments

Alaska: Frontier Academy’s Legal Analysis of Proposed Regs

Over at Homeschool2.0, Lynn blogs about Frontier Academy’s own legal analysis of Alaska’s proposed regulations. This is worth reading if you have been following this situation of proposed regulations for the statewide and in-district correspondence schools (this includes charter schools or at least some of them). It will be interesting to see how this all pans out.

Posted in Alaska, Autonomy, Correspondence Schools, States Info/News | Comments Off

Alaska’s Charter School Law: “Poorly Crafted”

I just came across this interview dating back to spring of 2001.  I’d like to know if Alaska’s charter school law has changed much since its inception. Perhaps, there have been no major problems over the past seven years, and most are satisfied with the charter school law? 

Northwest Education Magazine
Spring 2001
By Lee Sherman

An Alaska educator urges caution in starting charters

Taking It Slow

Seattle native Dr. Gordon E. Castanza, a retired teacher and an administrator with more than 22 years of experience in Boston and Alaska, is the author of Alaska’s Charter Schools: Freedom and Accountability, published in 1999 by Publications Consultants in Anchorage.

NW: My understanding is that that is the fundamental trade-off in charter schools — that they would have to show results, they would have to have a plan. They had to have specific goals that were measurable, and they had to be able to show at the end of five years or whatever that they had actually accomplished those goals. You’re saying that’s a nice theory, but it hasn’t happened consistently in Alaska?

CASTANZA: That’s right. And I lay a lot of the fault at the feet of the legislature. Alaska’s charter school law was very poorly crafted. It was probably one of the worst pieces of legislation I’ve ever seen come out of the state. (end of snip)

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Public ISP’s: “Meet the Spirit of The Law”

Update: This court decision was vacated on March 25th and the California Court of Appeal granted a rehearing. Homeschooling by using one of the alternatives to public school currently available under California law remains legal. See the website for the California Homeschool Network.

Are public school Independent Study Programs under fire in California? Some individuals are saying, “No, because there are two types of homeschooling”.

Home school ruling said ripe for challenge
By: TERI FIGUEROA – Staff Writer

Attorneys and advocates say parents who teach their kids shouldn’t worry | Saturday, March 8, 2008
In broad terms, there are two types of home schooling.

The first is that in which parents align themselves with a public school district and teach a state-approved curriculum while regularly checking in with the school. This type of home schooling does not appear to be under fire.

The second type, which appears to be under scrutiny in this case, is when parents find their curriculum elsewhere, including private schools and even the Internet.

The requirements that credentialed teachers play a part in home schooling has been on the books for years, said Ken Noonan, former superintendent of the Oceanside Unified School District who now sits on the California Board of Education.

Noonan said that he believes the ruling does not jeopardize school district-based programs, which he said meet the spirit of the law requiring the involvement of credentialed teachers. (end of snip)


Home school’s legality questioned, not independent study’s
By CHRIS GULLICK – Staff Writer
Article Launched: 03/08/2008 12:00:00 AM PST

A recent appellate court ruling in Southern California won’t affect most of the students in Butte County being taught at home, said Butte County Superintendent of Schools Don McNelis.

The ruling made Feb. 28 in the 2nd District Court of Appeal stated that parents without teaching credentials cannot legally home school their children, according to an Associated Press article in Friday’s Enterprise-Record.

McNelis said the ruling would not apply to students in independent study programs, such as Hearthstone School or Core Butte Charter School, where a fully credentialed teacher is assigned to every student and drives instruction.

In those models, teachers meet with their students at least once every two weeks to review work and make assignments. The students have to meet the same standards and testing required of all public school students.

McNelis said he believed most districts offered an independent study model similar to the county office of education’s.

But he said the ruling addresses a different group of students entirely – those who have never been in school and are taught exclusively by parents without a teacher’s oversight. (end of snip)


Ruling seen as a threat to many home-schooling families
State appellate court says those who teach children in private must have a credential.
By Seema Mehta and Mitchell Landsberg, Los Angeles Times Staff Writers
March 6, 2008

Teachers union officials will also be closely monitoring the appeal. A.J. Duffy, president of United Teachers Los Angeles, said he agrees with the ruling.

“What’s best for a child is to be taught by a credentialed teacher,” he said.
(end of snip)

For further information on this situation, click over to the HomeSchool Association of California.

Posted in CA, Role of the Parent, States Info/News | Comments Off

Alaska: Twindly-Bridge Charter School & Homeschooling

Although this article is from September 2006, I think it does well in highlighting the parent-directed mentality coming into conflict with public school mentality and regulations.  

Posted on: Wednesday, 20 September 2006 
Charter School Survives Rough Debut, Looks Toward Smoother Year:
TWINDLY BRIDGE: Parents and School Staff Struggled to Set Roles.
By Becky Stoppa, Anchorage Daily News, Alaska

Sep. 20–WASILLA — While an internal power struggle and low test participation made for a bumpy first year at Twindly Bridge Charter School, hopes run high that a new principal can help the school right its course.

Twindly Bridge serves about 210 students. Its doors opened in August 2005. It is one of three charter schools operating in the Matanuska-Susitna Borough School District. Its founder, Anna Roys, said the school blends the independence of home-school study with traditional public-school structure.

Twindly Bridge parents choose a curriculum and manage most of their children’s education at home. They must develop a learning plan for each child and maintain monthly contact with one of the school’s two teachers.

Parents must submit samples of their children’s work in math and writing each quarter and see to it that their children complete all state-mandated tests each year.

Twindly Bridge in turn offers workshops for parents and on-site activities for students to enhance home-based programs. It offers guidance and support in helping students meet state standards and fulfill high school graduation requirements.

“The whole idea was to try to bring into the school what the home-school community has learned and to bring into the home-school community the best of what (traditional) schools have learned,” Roys said.

Richard Webb, chairman of the Academic Policy Committee, said Twindly Bridge parents, teachers, supervisor and governing board spent the first year struggling to define their respective roles and deciding how best to run the school.

“Some people were saying we need more structure, we need more accountability, we need to be in classes more. Others were saying, ‘No, we need to be independent,’ ” Webb said.

Twindly Bridge determines much of that on its own, said assistant superintendent George Troxel. But it consumed anywhere from five to 20 hours of the School District administration’s time last year, he said.

Troubles at Twindly Bridge proved so time-consuming that district administrators cited them as one reason the School Board should deny an application for a fourth charter school, Highland Tech Valley High Charter School, in August.

But Twindly Bridge was at a disadvantage, Roys acknowledges. Roys, who wrote the school plan and was the school’s supervisor last year, has no public school experience. (end of snips)

Other articles for background information:

Home-school support is on the way
March 25, 2005
JOEL DAVIDSON/Frontiersman reporter

MAT-SU – Public home-schooling in the Valley is popular and growing fast. Roughly 1,100 kids are enrolled this year in the Mat-Su Borough School District’s home-based education programs and at least 200 more are expected to join when the new Twindly Bridge Charter School opens in the fall.  In an effort to accommodate families that want to home school..

Parents who opt to home school through the MSB School District receive assistance from certified teachers to develop curriculum and track student progress. Unlike independent home school, which is also very popular in the Valley, public home-school parents receive government funding at 80 percent of the cost it takes to educate a standard public school student.
Public home-school kids are legally public school students and are required to take state-certified tests to demonstrate academic progress. Independent home-schooling, however, is largely religion-based, Lochner said, and parents are free to teach whatever they want, with no state regulations.

When it comes to testing, the devil’s in the details
August 17, 2007
By John R. Moses

Twindly-Bridge Charter School had another kind of statistical glitch – not enough students who are counted as “economically disadvantaged” showed up for testing. While the actual population of that subgroup is 28, information about which students are economically disadvantaged is confidential, McCauley said. Every subgroup must have 95 percent of its members present for the test scores to count. Twindly-Bridge’s principal was given some simple advice for next year – do whatever you have to do to get all students in school on testing days.

Posted in Alaska, Autonomy, Role of the Parent, States Info/News | 1 Comment

The Definition Debate?

When discussions about homeschooling and public school-at-home programs arise, it often becomes focused on defining homeschooling. From a philosophical standpoint, this can be positive or very negative. However, it does not change the fact that public schooling has its own definition already. Public school-at-home programs fall under a public schooling definition. Here is an example of a public school definition for one state.  And since there is a definition for public schooling, there are individuals and homeschool organizations who feel compelled to make a distinction between the two different options lest homeschooling becomes morphed into public schooling-at-home.  It is actually in the best interests of both educational options that the two remain distinct in the eyes of the public, media, and legislators. “The National Alliance for Public Charter Schools“ makes the distinction that charter schools are “public” schools; attempting to dispel perceptions that charter schools are a form of private education or homeschooling. Many homeschool organizations and individuals have understood for years the importance of keeping the distinctions clear as it relates to homeschooling freedoms. 

Note this snip from the Wisconsin Parents Association’s recent bulletin to their members entitled,  “Prepare Now to Respond to Legislation on Virtual Charter Schools” :

• Maintain the distinction between homeschools and virtual charter schools.

-Virtual charter schools are PUBLIC schools and are subject to state regulation, including complying with state standards and administering state-mandated tests. Homeschools are PRIVATE schools and are not subject to state regulation. In order to insure that we are not subjected to the same regulations as virtual charter schools, we must maintain the distinction. Parents of virtual charter school students are willing to accept state regulation; some even welcome it.

-We homeschoolers take direct responsibility for our children’s education rather than turning it over to the public schools. We educate our children according to our principles and beliefs, not those of the state.

 -As the administrators of our homeschools, we homeschoolers choose our curriculums and decide how our children will be evaluated rather than following state mandates. We establish the yearly calendar and daily schedule our homeschool will follow. (end of snip)

The Wisconsin Parents Association has as its goal to protect homeschooling freedoms in the state of Wisconsin.  Perhaps, the “Making a Distinction” strategy will become unnecessary at some future point.  But for now, protecting homeschool freedoms is supposed to the goal of a *homeschooling* organization—and might I say any freedom-loving homeschool parent. The point isn’t to be divisive and to insist that someone can or can not wear the “homeschool” label.  One should not be surprised or horrified or even hurt when an organization of virtual school parents are out there making the distinction that “public virtual schooling isn’t homeschooling”. It happens because it is in the best interest of the option of public virtual schooling. Clear and simple, isn’t it? Making a distinction between homeschooling and public virtual schooling isn’t equal to being anti-charter schooling or anti-public school choice. It’s politics, unfortunately. And yes, homeschooling does have to be political.

Posted in AHA: Homeschooling & Ps-at-Home, Commentaries, States Info/News, Wisconsin | 4 Comments

Alaska: AHEA – Advocating for Less Regulation of Statewide Correspondence Schools

Lynn over at Homeschool 2.0 has been following this in her state. One might make an assumption that a charter school founder might be in league with the Alaska Home Educator’s Alliance in advocating for less regulation for Alaska’s statewide correspondence schools; however, that’s not the case. Lynn states that AHEA does not speak for her.

Statewide Correspondence Schools Take Money Away from Students
October 10, 2007

AHEA advocates that the money should ‘follow the child.’ In other words, they should be able to spend the allotments the same way in-district programs are able. This is an incredible argument. They should be hollering at their SWC’s that the money should go to the child as the legislature has designated it. Why should a SWC be granted more freedom when they are clearly not serving the best interests of their students?

Make no mistake, this will draw attention from legislators because the dollars they grant are not being spent as intended. That is, about $6.7 million. Their reflex will be to cut the funding to correspondence schools from 80% to maybe 65% or 40%. No charter school can be started on funding that low and very few SWC’s can operate on that funding. Effectively, the homeschooling programs will be gone, over, no more. Hello, Alyeska Central School and its limited options which operated at 65% for many, many years.

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