Homeschoolers Ask for Charter Status
A group of homeschooling parents in Oregon have applied to form a charter school. They want to continue homeschooling, and to use the charter for in-school resources and to meet weekly with a teacher.
Given Oregon’s track record on charters, I’m not expecting the idea to be approved easily. And I actually hope the district turns down this proposal. I see a few problems with it:
- The charter would give each student $1,000 to use for their education. Families’ ideas of educational purchases vary so widely that this is sure to lead to conflicts or allegations of misuse. What if a family thinks a golf lesson is physical education but the charter doesn’t?
- It seems extravagant to establish a school resource center for a couple hundred families who won’t spend much time there. People could just go to a public library and access most of the books, maps, or CDs that the charter would provide.
- If students in the homeschool charter perform poorly on state tests, other people might view that as an indictment of all homeschoolers. An unsuccessful homeschool charter could provoke stricter regulation of other homeschoolers who were never involved with it.
I would support a charter for homeschoolers if it were structured more like a part-time school. Students could attend the school two or three full days a week, and it could assign homework for them to do with their parents on the other days. Rather than give students money to spend, the school could lend them computers, musical instruments, or other things they need for their studies. Students would still get to spend lots of time at home, but it would be clear to everyone that the charter was a real school and not just a place to stop by for an hour.
Is a part-time charter a good idea for Missouri? Charters can form in St. Louis and Kansas City, so out-state homeschoolers won’t have this option. St. Louis families that want to combine homeschooling and public education are already free to choose the SLPS Virtual School. There might not be enough demand for a homeschooling charter there. That leaves Kansas City. I can imagine homeschooling families in Kansas City forming a charter, especially if they participated in the Missouri Virtual Instruction Program and are looking for something to take its place. However, the charter idea won’t go very far if homeschoolers are satisfied with existing homeschool coops and don’t want help from the state.