Bulletin #32 What does Homeschool friendly Mean to You? 07/27/04
Did you know? School districts that form"partnerships" with homeschoolers, may in fact be doing more damage than good to homeschool freedoms.
Depending on the level of regulation in your state this may not be an issue. If your state does not have much in the way of homeschool regulation you take a risk when entering into such a partnership and you may have something to lose when you do so.
We know that some government schools are trying to entice people who have left the system to re-enroll by offering them programs that they can do at home. They may or may not call it homeschooling, and many of us agree that if you are enrolled in such a program, then you are in fact a public schooler doing school at home. There are many reasons why this is not good for the homeschooling community at large and we have written about that topic before.
A major reason cited is the possibility of being tied into public school legislation along with it's accountability and regulations. Aside from the whole vociferous argument going on about the co-opting of the terminology "homeschool" we would like to address the whole issue of partnering with government schools.
What if the government school offers you the opportunity to share resources without enrolling. Is that still a good deal for homeschoolers? If it is possible that no strings are attached, should homeschoolers engage in public school partnerships? So for example, if you are invited to attend school assemblies, use the school library, or participate in band or after school programs without enrolling or meeting any other school requirements, is it wise to do so?
Some would argue "why not?" Some would suggest that the public schools are just trying to reach out a friendly and supportive hand to the community's homeschoolers. After all - you pay taxes and you should share in the resources you pay for. Many people used to think that as long as the two parties had an agreement and that nothing was expected from the autonomous homeschooler in order to participate in activities or using resources, that there was no harm. That may not be an entirely bad idea, however it could be problematic. We think times have changed and there may be other issues to be concerned about.
Let us suggest without being paranoid, that this could be a means for mandated reporters to keep an eye on your child. This could be a way in which they could judge whether your child is in need of services that you may or may not want. This could be a way for the school to try to passively entice you back into the system or to make determinations that you are not adequately educating you child, at least to their standards. What would you do if out of the blue, and as a result of such a partnership, you were faced with a visit from the Department of Child and Family Services for charges of educational neglect, or worse yet physical abuse? This scenario is entirely possible, and by partnering with government schools you have really allowed the public school system into your life.
"Cooperative" relationships between homeschoolers and public schools also may lead to setting precedents that may haunt parents in the future. If there is no legal authority (or even if there is), regarding the regulation of homeschoolers in a particular state or locality, and an issue of regulation goes before a judge, it is more than likely that an opposing attorney will use the established precedent to argue that the arrangement should continue or should be made a requirement of law. If there is no parent/government precedent established, it cannot be used against parents in the future. Parents must think about all the possibilities and effects for them and for their children's ability to instruct in freedom in years to come.
With that said, one must be careful when dealing with these kinds of partnerships. They may in fact seem welcoming, but have ulterior motives. Trust between two parties is essential, and it is difficult to trust the government schools when their interests may be in direct conflict with yours. They want your child. Your child represents funding to them. Many government schools disagree with the homeschool model and will look for ways to discredit it. Many government school administrators will look to find failings in a homeschool and attempt to disrupt the process and "bring you back into the fold".
We think as long as you understand the risks, that you will make informed decisions as to the wisdom of partnering with "homeschool friendly" school systems.
Attorney Deborah Stevenson - Executive Director of National Home Education Legal Defense. –
Judy Aron - Director of Research, NHELD – firstname.lastname@example.org