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Parent Partnership Problems "Love with Some Strings Attached"

February 2009
by Lee Binz
The HomeScholar

#Homeschool Parent Partnership Problems "Love with Some Strings Attached" @TheHomeScholar

Not too long ago, Congress agreed to bail out the insurance industry. When those insurance company executives started having resort gatherings at exotic locations, with gourmet dining and luxuries beyond measure, Congress and the public went ballistic.

They were wasting our investment money and our tax dollars on frivolous things! Congress wants to force them to stop that behavior. They have a measure of control because the companies accepted the bailout money. The company used public funds, and the government has control over what they do.

You may agree or disagree with the bailout decision, but that's not why I mentioned it now.

Parent partnership and alternative education programs see homeschoolers as a source of income. When we use their programs, they get money. Some programs get money directly from us, other programs get money on our behalf sent from the government. Either way, they make money on us.

These programs benefit financially when they make us feel afraid and incapable. And once we sign up, they can exert control over us the same way congress can exert control over industries they bail out. They love us - but there are strings attached.

The Truth About Government Funding Any time an individual or organization accepts public money, they give up some control in exchange. If you use a parent partnership program through a public or public school for homeschooling, the school may exert some control over the education of your children.

Parent partnerships may claim to love homeschoolers for who they are, and may say they would not exert control over your homeschool. But the fact is they CAN.

Alternative education programs can change their policy at any time, and begin demonstrating their control now or in the future. I have seen this happen. Parents will begin with a program and feel very happy with it - and then, the following year, the rules change.

Some programs will claim they don't exert control, when, in fact, they DO. They require you to be evaluated by a teacher, or have a certain number of hours in a classroom, or submit work for grading. They may require you to choose curriculum from a certain list, or they may not "approve" your choice of curriculum. Many will not allow you to teach from your worldview, use a religious curriculum, or include religious instruction in your school day.

Still, my biggest concern about parent partnerships is not what they require, but the attitude they convey.

Who is a "Real Teacher?" #Homeschool Parent Partnership Problems "Love with Some Strings Attached" @TheHomeScholarLook at the advertisements for parent partnership programs, and read between the lines. Some ads will say they offer "real teachers" - which of course implies that you AREN'T a real teacher. They may say they use "approved curriculum" when really, our curriculum is approved too - approved by the homeschool parent who knows their child best.

I have seen them parent partnerships advertise a "real high school diploma" and yet, somehow, my children's high school diplomas were real enough to earn college admission and scholarships.

They may say they have "accredited transcripts" which, in most colleges, have the same meaning as the "official transcript" provided by homeschoolers.

Attitude and Control When you are evaluating programs, look at two things; attitude and control.

Programs may recite the familiar complaint about homeschooling: socialization. Even "rookie" homeschoolers usually know and can explain that socialization in the real world is the highest quality socialization. Frankly, raising socialization as a concern is a "red flag." It signals a program that is not as "homeschool friendly" as they claim.

Private school parent partnerships may demonstrate some of these concerns, even though parents can choose a program to support their world view. I remember speaking to one private school at home program. The teacher explained her belief that high school students "should" go to school for the sake of "socialization." That was the moment I recognized the intangible attitude of an alt-ed program could have serious repercussions within the family.

"Private School at Home" Program Advertisements #Homeschool Parent Partnership Problems "Love with Some Strings Attached" @TheHomeScholar I was looking at an ad for an accredited homeschool program the other day, looking for similar not-so-subliminal "messages". At first I was very impressed. Then I read the details. This is what I read.

"Each curriculum package is individualized," it said. However, they only use the textbook, workbook, school-at-home learning. Not every homeschooler chooses that strategy.

"These outstanding curriculum choices coupled with the expertise of your advisor." Truly, the only expertise you need is the love for your child. Therefore an advisor's expertise is based on encouraging you to follow your heart and your own expertise. And remember those "outstanding curriculum choices" only include the options above.

"Our courses range from vocational to advanced placement." Our independent homeschool can provide AP courses and remedial education as well. We are also not limited by curriculum choices, and we can make ANY class that our student needs, at any level, no matter how strange or unusual the interests of our children.

"Record-keeping options for courses on their own or through a co-op". We have options that go far beyond that. We can include ANY educational experiences on our official homeschool transcript. We can include a public school calculus or band class, a co-op class, a distance-learning class, and community college class all on ONE official homeschool transcript. If you need help doing that, please see my Total Transcript Solution.

"Tuition is only...." Maybe it costs $195 for first student, but what if the fine print describes huge costs of $1000 or more? There are no more assurances than we have from our own homeschool with our own official transcripts.

Sometimes accredited distance learning programs are the right choice for families. But look closely at the messages, weigh the pros and cons, and think carefully before choosing. Remember that you have no need to be afraid of homeschooling at all. There is no reason for concern about homeschooling.

Homeschooling High School Without Fear #Homeschool Parent Partnership Problems "Love with Some Strings Attached" @TheHomeScholarMake sure your choice is based on what is right for your own child because you know your child best. Make sure your decision is NOT based on fear of homeschooling. Fear is no reason for making an important choice about schooling options.

Independent home education is TRULY flexible, individualized, supportive, and official. We are not flexible within some artificial boundaries, or individualized within certain curriculum choices, or supportive as long as rules are followed. We can be official by following state law.

Recognize that "accredited" is not a panacea or Holy Grail. Our advisors are mothers and fathers that truly love their children and want what is best for them.

Homeschooling acknowledges that the parent knows best. Parents choose curriculum to match the student's learning style with their own teaching style, and teach courses that really mean something to the child. Classes match the abilities and interests of the child, and can go at just the right speed, and never have to be too fast or too slow.

Classroom Setting Without the Classroom Regardless of public or private school affiliations, parent partnership programs often have some requirements about the rate of instruction. Perhaps you need to finish something within 9 months, or you have to turn a paper in by Friday, or you have to see a teacher for 3 hours by the end of the month. Since kids usually learn in spurts, requiring a constant rate of learning can be either frustrating because it's too fast, or boring because it's too slow.

When I think about the steady rate of a classroom teacher, I always think about that TV show of Lucille Ball in the candy factors. She was trying so hard to keep up, to the point of shoving candy into her hat, mouth, and blouse just to show she didn't fall behind!

#Homeschool Parent Partnership Problems "Love with Some Strings Attached" @TheHomeScholarSometimes parent partnership programs will talk about how difficult children can be during the teenage years. Yes, it's true. Managing teens can be like nailing Jello to a wall.

Teenagers can be difficult, just like all age groups can be difficult, just like parenting in general is difficult. But I'm not convinced that those programs can actually do a BETTER job of educating teens. I think some teens will just be difficult not matter which method you use to educate.

Homeschool parents may instinctively avoid parent partnership programs when their kids are younger. Sometimes as they approach high school their anxiety increases. They begin to listen to the voices suggesting they can't do it by themselves or insisting the State can help them. Remember that when a school "helps" there will be stings attached. The truth is you CAN homeschool high school without getting the government involved.

Beware of any program, agency, and organization would try to sell you something by playing on your fears or making you feel incompetent. This strategy is a dead giveaway that their motives are not pure, and they are not looking after the best interests of you and your family.

Instead, listen to those who have homeschooled successfully before you. Those who can encourage and support you and help you make your homeschool situation as good as it can be.

Believe me; you CAN homeschool independently through high school! Thousand have before you and the rewards are incredible. There is help along the way! Your family will be blessed by your decision.

#Homeschool Parent Partnership Problems "Love with Some Strings Attached" @TheHomeScholarBefore you decide to "go a few rounds" with the alternative education or parent partnership programs, ask yourself some questions.

  • What am I going to have to give up in order to receive what they promise?
  • Why do they say they love me? Is it just my money?
  • Do they stand to gain financially by making me feel incompetent?
  • Will they be able to exert influence over what I teach my children? You can search elsewhere.

Don't settle for a love that isn't true. Love should have no strings attached.

~~~~~

Feedback

~~~~~

Hi Lee,

I really enjoyed your article about parent-school partnerships. I have felt a vague sort of uneasiness about these programs. Your article articulated much of what I had been feeling.

I know more and more homeschooling parents who have opted for one of these programs. In some cases it is because they were under-confident and felt they needed that "extra insurance" to be sure their children were not going to miss some important school topics. In some cases it is because the program offers financial benefits that are very appealing to families trying to get by on a single income (e.g., Columbia Virtual Academy seems to be gaining in popularity). I also think packaging and professional advertising can be compelling. Last March I was sent an "informational video" by the school liaison here at Fort Lewis for the program "Online Public Schools." She asked for my opinion and wondered whether I thought homeschoolers here at Fort Lewis would benefit from such a program. It was a very slick DVD and it was obvious to me that someone was hoping to make some money off of homeschoolers. More concerning was the organization's efforts to reach homeschoolers via the local school liaison office. I spoke with someone in the liaison office and learned that they had also been approached by WAVA to see if they could partner with Fort Lewis in order to "better reach Fort Lewis parents looking for an educational alternative to public schools." The Fort Lewis school liaison folks are trying to be helpful but may inadvertently give people new to homeschooling the impression that they need one of these special programs in order to be successful.

That was a rather long-winded way of telling you that I appreciated what you wrote about. Thank you also for your website and the resources and support you provide to homeschoolers.

Warmly,

- Niki in Washington

~~~~~

Lee,

Thank you so much for your article on Parent Partnership programs. I have been trying to warn people about these for years. One question I have: is there a way to get the article in a print version? Also, a great resource to tell people about is the movie "Exposing a Trojan Horse". Have you seen it? I would like to be able to print the article and pass it out, especially in the homeschool co-op that I am in. I will of course include your information on the page. Interestingly, this year the co-op is requiring parents show their notice of intent, virtually assuring that people can no longer be in alt. ed. programs and in the co-op too.

This subject hits a nerve with me, so there is so much I could say . It is very difficult to reach people that are already in these alternative education programs. They unfortunately justify their participation, for example even if I point out that because you have basically a public school in your home, it is illegal to use any Christian materials. The indifference and willingness to compromise principles is very sad.

There are many reasons that I am concerned about the affect of public school programs at home. In some areas, up to 70% of homeschoolers have abandoned private homeschooling for public education! The line between the two becomes blurred, and homeschoolers, legislators, and educators don't always know the difference anymore. Also, I try to encourage people to trust God, not the government. As you pointed out, these programs appeal to fear of inadequacy. We all need to see that God will provide the finances, assistance and expertise that parents need for each child. WE are the ones educating our children, as is required of us, and God will provide all that we need to do it. I truly believe that. I hope you do have a chance to watch 'Exposing a Trojan Horse'. If the opportunity doesn't come up, I would be more than willing to lend my copy to you. It is very eye-opening.

I'm sorry this is so long. This is a very meaningful topic to me, because I believe passionately about the future of private, independent homeschooling. BTW, I have been educating my 4 children for 13 years now. Thanks again for all you do. Your services are invaluable in helping parents stay the course to independently educate their children.

Blessings,

- Kathy

~~~~~

Hi Lee:

Thank you for writing about this topic:

These programs benefit financially when they make us feel afraid and incapable. And once we sign up, they can exert control over us the same way congress can exert control over industries they bail out. They love us - but there are strings attached.

Well said and timely. Parents in Washington need to be informed about the targeting of homeschoolers for enrollment state public school alternative learning programs. Then we must speak up with clarity, honestly and respect about the differences. To do less will allow the continued erosion of our homeschool freedoms.

For the Homeschoolers of WA

- Janice Hedin in Washington

~~~~~

Lee,

I just read your article on the parent partnership programs. I do not work for one and I do not send my children to one. But I have a question. What is wrong with a program that designs an education system that fits the needs of home schoolers? They make money, as they should. Don't you make money through the services you provide? I don't mind. I realize your major issue is the control such programs have over home schools. But families can simply remove themselves if that gets to be a problem. They are not locked in with no choices.

You say that home schoolers seek them out because of the fear they feel about doing the job right. Don't parents seek you out because of insecurities they feel?

To me it seems that home schoolers are finding that they have to take sides. All they want to do is educate their children successfully, but as soon as they wade into this area of thinking, they are hit with attitudes that make them have to dig trenches. The bigger goal is to make it possible for more parents to spend more time with their kids, enabling them to achieve academic goals and to grow into true maturity. (Not just look like grown ups). What would it be like if it was realized that we have THE IMPORTANT things in common with the parent partnership program? And what are those? 1. parents direct the education of their children 2.parents spending more time with their children 3. parents serving as their children's role models 4. the flexibility to pace the education for the child's needs, 5. the opportunity to design the education to meet the skills and gifts of the learner. We all have the same goals and we are providing a variety of opportunities for students to achieve those goals.

If the public school system would somehow convince the legislature that parent partnership programs were the only way that the state would allow home schooling to occur, I would seriously object. Freedom to home school is an important matter. However, varieties of home schooling opportunities just makes the experience richer. Having so many programs and options is inviting to parents who feel a little uneasy about taking on the incredible task of educating their children. The accountability and identity gained in the parent partnerships may serve a purpose for some that others don?t need. Can we welcome their contribution to the home school neighborhood realizing that they serve a purpose for some while expanding the rich offerings of the big TENT of the home schooling movement?

- April in Washington

~~~~~

Lee Binz, The HomeScholar, specializes in helping parents homeschool high school. Get Lee's 5 part mini-course, "The 5 Biggest Mistakes Parents Make Homeschooling High School." You can find her at www.TheHomeScholar.com.

You have been SO helpful, supportive, knowledgeable.... WOW! Thank you so Recommendation11much for all the resources and extra’s you have sent. The time-frame I set for myself for learning about (and more importantly -- doing) a transcript has been intense, what with continuing the ‘usual’ ups and downs of home schooling existence. You really helped me clarify my thinking on short- and long-term goals. What a talent you have for zeroing in key issues; thanks for all the help! I really don’t think I could have done it without you!

 

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