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.