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.

About Annette

Annette - A former homeschool mom in a state with no public school at home programs (yet).
This entry was posted in AHA: Homeschooling & Ps-at-Home, Commentaries, States Info/News, Wisconsin. Bookmark the permalink.

4 Responses to The Definition Debate?

  1. Pingback: Principled Discovery » Homeschool definitions affecting virtual charters, special ed

  2. Shawna says:

    Maybe as part of the application/contract process, there should be a statement that such and such virtual charter school is a branch of such and such public school district. Thus, confusion is somewhat alleviated for both sides of the aisle.

    I will admit, being new to all of this homeschooling stuff I had no idea that virtual charter schools and ISPs and such were part of public school districts…and I used to teach in both public and private schools.

    A clear statement on many sites and applications would have made me think differently and probably lead me to choose differently.

    Unfortunately, being new to it all does sometimes mean that clearly stated differences are needed to us knuckle heads trying to sort it all out :-)

  3. Annette says:

    Thank-you, Shawna for your comment here. I do understand your confusion, and I wouldn’t refer to anyone in that situation as “knuckle heads”. :) In fact, one person who I spoke with did sign a statement upon enrolling her child and she was still confused about the choice she made. She signed a statement that she acknowledged that the virtual charter school was a public school and not homeschooling. Here’s a similar situation in my state: parents sometimes form a non-approved private school instead of officially hsing. Technically, it is not homeschooling, but I know some parents are missing that technicality. It matters when their children want to do sports with the public schools. They are ineligible if enrolled in a private school, home-based or otherwise. Please remember the yahoogroup, your comments would be appreciated over there.

  4. Pingback: Freedom Is Not A Gift; Fighting For Educational Liberty | Heart of the Matter Online