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Charter school or homeschool?

 
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hadaville
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Joined: 24 Jun 2006
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PostPosted: Sat Jun 24, 2006 11:52 pm    Post subject: Charter school or homeschool? Reply with quote

Anyone here have experience with Connections Academy? It is a virtual charter school/public school. I am in Oregon, but other states have them. Just wondering if others like or dislike the program.
Heather
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Theodore
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Joined: 06 Oct 2005
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Location: Missouri, US

PostPosted: Sun Jun 25, 2006 11:02 am    Post subject: To charter school or not to charter school... Reply with quote

This of course brings up the whole question of whether to homeschool or use a charter school. On the one hand, you can get free textbooks and materials through the charter school, and don't have to worry about the homeschool legal requirements for your state, but on the other hand, you have to use their curriculum and follow their schedule, which is a problem if your children are in different grade levels for each subject, or if your beliefs run contrary to the worldview the textbooks (or online materlals, depending) are teaching. You'd be surprised how many textbooks contain material proven false years ago (gill slits, Geologic Column, etc.)

(in case anyone was wondering, using a charter school is not considered homeschooling, since you're officially enrolled in the public school system)

Yes, if your objective is just to get your children out of the physical schools for purposes of safety and hygiene and so on, then charter schools are probably the right choice for you, but most people homeschool for reasons that extend beyond that. Let's hear some opinions.
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GraceRules
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Joined: 21 Jun 2006
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PostPosted: Sun Jul 09, 2006 11:36 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

This issue has been a cause of concern for some since the homeschooling movement had to fight to get where they are today. Charter schools offer freebies to entice homeschooling families to enroll. Many will offer free curriculum, free computers and/or other materials. In exchange, the school district receives funding for the child enrolled in the charter school and the parents relinquish some of their decision-making abilities. Here's an article from HSLDA that captures the whole debate much better than I can articulate.

http://www.hslda.org/docs/nche/000010/200206260.asp

The Problem with Home-based Charter Schools
HSLDA's Position in the Charter School Debate


Charter schools are a new phenomenon rapidly gaining popularity across the country. All charter schools are created or "chartered" by public school boards, which establish a mission, educational program, and methods of assessment. Most charter schools are classroom based. However, some charter schools are home based. When parents enroll their child in a full-time, classroom-based charter school, it is obvious that they are signing away much of their parental right to direct their child's education. Home-based charter schools gloss over this surrender by giving parents a wide variety of "free" benefits, all for use at home: computer and Internet access, books, school supplies, support from certified teachers, and a diploma, etc.

(Admin Note: Further material removed to at least partially retain HSLDA's copyright, see link for full article)
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hbmom36
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Joined: 06 May 2006
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PostPosted: Mon Jul 10, 2006 9:06 am    Post subject: Re: To charter school or not to charter school... Reply with quote

Theodore wrote:
you have to use their curriculum and follow their schedule, which is a problem if your children are in different grade levels for each subject, or if your beliefs run contrary to the worldview the textbooks (or online materlals, depending) are teaching. You'd be surprised how many textbooks contain material proven false years ago (gill slits, Geologic Column, etc.)

(in case anyone was wondering, using a charter school is not considered homeschooling, since you're officially enrolled in the public school system)



Our charter school provides funding for classes and/or materials. We don't have to follow any set curriculum-as long as the children are learning, we can teach the way we want. They do have some guidelines for use of the funds, but I don't know of anyone who has had a big problem with the restrictions. I do know some families that are homeschooling with a different charter that follows the public school curriculum-they even get a study guide for the standardized tests.
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Theodore
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PostPosted: Mon Jul 10, 2006 12:28 pm    Post subject: Re: To charter school or not to charter school... Reply with quote

Hmm, so some charter schools basically just give you money and then test every now and then to make sure your children learned something? That sounds remarkably similar to homeschooling (in the more restrictive states), except in this case you're being given money to homeschool. A rather creative way for schools to get generate funding (funding varies according to the number of students enrolled) from people who wouldn't otherwise be interested.

Or to put it another way, the schools get x amount of money for every student, so they give you some fraction of x in return for being allowed to list you as enrolled. So long as they don't dictate what sorts of curriculum you can use (what sort of guidelines do they give for what you can and can't spend the money on?), and tests are infrequent, I don't really see a problem. Though from the taxpayer point of view, schools shouldn't be getting funding for doing basically nothing. If all they're doing is testing, then their funding should be at most a few hundred dollars per student (even counting special needs).

Here's an interesting link on district / charter school funding for various states:
http://www.edexcellence.net/institute/charterfinance/

California, for instance, gets an average of $4,834.97 per charter school student per year. How much of that money are they redistributing to you, and what services are they providing?
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hbmom36
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PostPosted: Tue Jul 11, 2006 8:27 am    Post subject: Re: To charter school or not to charter school... Reply with quote

Theodore wrote:
So long as they don't dictate what sorts of curriculum you can use (what sort of guidelines do they give for what you can and can't spend the money on?), and tests are infrequent, I don't really see a problem. Though from the taxpayer point of view, schools shouldn't be getting funding for doing basically nothing. If all they're doing is testing, then their funding should be at most a few hundred dollars per student (even counting special needs).

California, for instance, gets an average of $4,834.97 per charter school student per year. How much of that money are they redistributing to you, and what services are they providing?


We can't spend the money on religious material (which is not a concern for us, although I know many parents who have a problem with it), and can't spend more than a certain pecentage of our semester's funding on just one type of material (art supplies, for instance) We have to buy through approved vendors (of which there are many). We get $400 per semester, and were even able to get a computer through them. We would not have been able to afford it on our own. The only other catch is that all "non-consumible" materials have to be returned to the charter school when the child stops being a student with them.
We are also very lucky, because we got a very good Educational Specialist with them. She is very supportive of unschooling. I know of other ES's who are a little more pushy, but it's also easy to change if you get one that you don't like.
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momo3boys
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PostPosted: Tue Jul 11, 2006 12:31 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

What states are these charter schools in? Can anyone do them?
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hbmom36
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PostPosted: Tue Jul 11, 2006 4:11 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

momo3boys wrote:
What states are these charter schools in? Can anyone do them?


Ours is in Southern California (Orange County only).
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Theodore
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PostPosted: Tue Jul 11, 2006 5:45 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

As far as I know, you have to be a resident of the state the charter school is in. And like I said above, if you're enrolled in a charter school, you're not really homeschooling. You're officially part of the public school system, and you're basically trading some (perhaps small, perhaps large) amount of educational freedom for a few hundred dollars per year of financial assistance. That option might seem more attractive if you got to keep everything you bought if your child scored higher than x amount, but apparently they haven't thought of educational incentives.
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hbmom36
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PostPosted: Wed Jul 12, 2006 7:46 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Theodore wrote:
As far as I know, you have to be a resident of the state the charter school is in. And like I said above, if you're enrolled in a charter school, you're not really homeschooling. You're officially part of the public school system, and you're basically trading some (perhaps small, perhaps large) amount of educational freedom for a few hundred dollars per year of financial assistance. That option might seem more attractive if you got to keep everything you bought if your child scored higher than x amount, but apparently they haven't thought of educational incentives.


I must respectfully disagree, Theodore. I know there are many charter schools in other parts of the country that are nothing more than public school at home. Our charter school experience has given us more academic freedom, because I have been able to buy materials I would otherwise have been unable to afford. Also, our ES helped us when we were trying to find a math curriculum that would suit our daughter's needs. All I have to do is meet with her every three weeks and turn in our paperwork. She tells me we're doing a terrific job, makes a few suggestions, and that's it.
As far as keeping the materials I get through the charter school, most of the materials I really don't need or want to keep. For example, I got a teaching clock through them to help my daughter learn to tell time. When she had finished using it, I simply returned it. I really don't want a bunch of educational materials gathering dust in my home when we don't need them anymore.
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Amybass
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PostPosted: Fri May 11, 2007 7:02 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I started with connections academy for this school year and I felt like a slave to their system. They wanted me to send in paperwork for everything! Plus I didn't like to have to follow their curriculum and not have the freedom to teach what I wanted. Thankfully I got out of that one real quick. I hated them breathing down my neck.
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