September 20, 2000
Dear Kansas Members and Friends,
A number of Kansas public schools are offering programs to home school families. These programs usually provide money, equipment, buildings, books, classes, and teachers.
Because some home school families may be attracted by these benefits, we would like to reiterate our membership policy and how it applies in the context of such programs. In order to join HSLDA and to continue to qualify as a member, families must meet three requirements:
1. The parents (or the parents together with a relative) must do at least 51% of the teaching for the child. This is 51% of the total instructional time, rather than 51% of the number of classes. We recognize that many excellent home school programs utilize the teaching abilities of non-family members to a certain extent, and as long as a majority of the instruction is by a parent or relative, we will extend membership.
2. The parents must have complete control and authority over the education program, including instruction and selection of books. If any governmental entity has a right, based either on statute, regulation, contract, or any other agreement, to determine what is taught, how it is taught, or what books will be used (even if the government entity never actually exercises this authority), the home school becomes a government-controlled program in which the parents are simply adjuncts.
3. If the home schooled child is enrolled in any program sponsored or operated by a public school or school authority, the school or school authority must not receive more than 50% of the funding it would receive for a comparable full time-enrolled student. If you are contemplating enrolling in any such program, you should find out exactly how much funding the school or school authority will obtain on account of your decision to enroll your child. The Mid-Kansas Independent Academy, for example, expects to receive the same amount of money from the state for each enrolled home school student that public schools receive for a full-time public school student. A child who is enrolled in the Mid-Kansas Independent Academy is not eligible for membership in HSLDA.
Many parents come to a point where they feel there is an educational need they cannot meet on their own. Parents then face a choice of turning to the government for help or to the home school community. In this moment of need, whichever system the parents turn to for help will be strengthened. Parents who turn to government schools will strengthen the government schools. Parents who turn to an alternative will strengthen the alternative.
In addition, parents who enroll their children in these public school programs waive many of their parental and First Amendment rights. This significantly weakens their grounds for legal defense if any conflict with the school district should occur.
Therefore, HSLDA encourages any parents who are considering participation in a government program to thoughtfully consider the impact this decision will have over the long term-both its impact on the hearts and the minds of their children, and its impact on the home schooling as a movement for years to come.
An insightful memo from David Barfield of Christian Home Educators Confederation of Kansas is attached.
Scott A. Woodruff, Esq.
Staff Attorney of HSLDA
Memo from Christian Home Educators Confederation of Kansas:
Dear CHECK friends,
This Wednesday is September 20, the official day that the public schools count their student, the basis of state financial aid to the local school districts. In recent weeks I have heard of a number of attempts by school districts to reach out to homeschoolers in various ways. But with all of them, there is one requirement, be here on September 20 to enroll.
It started with the Bashor-Linwood's Virtual school two years ago. They established a charter school to reach out to homeschooled students. They offer a computer that your student can use while enrolled, on-line lesson plans, and other help. This year they expect between 350 to 400 students. That will bring approx. $ 1,500,000 in state aid to the district. There are catches: you must enroll, sign a contract, agree to have your student take the state assessments. Your student is part of the District's student count. The state department considers you a public school student. HSLDA will not cover you.
This year, Wichita has its E-School with a similar program. We have heard of a number of district's offering access to resource centers with computers and internet access. Others are offering on-line curriculum. Again, the catch: show up on September 20 to enroll and plan on your students taking the state assessments in the spring.
But no deal has attracted more interest than the offer of the Moundridge School District in their proposed Mid-Kansas Independent Academy (see CHECK E-News 2000-23 for my warning about the school's offer which included a CHECK News article of June 2000 by Jim Farthing, "Free Lunch Alert"). Rustin Clark, the District's superintendent, was all over the states on a crusade to sign up homeschoolers. Reportedly, over 200 signed up. He promised reimbursement of up to $2000 for school expenses (curriculum, musical instruments, computers). He told people that he had checked out the legality of it all. I had a number of people call me saying it sounded too good to be true. I warned them that it likely was. Early this past week, those enrolled found it was.
Below is a reprint (website only) from this past Thursday's Hutchinson News which reports on the demise of Moundridge's Mid- Kansas Independent Academy, at least for this year. For more information, check out Jim Farthing's article, "Why Kansas Homeschoolers Should Reject Moundridge*s Mid-Kansas Independent Academy", from the September 2000 CHECK News at http://www.kansashomeschool.org/CN2000/MKIA.htm.
Now the State Department of Education is taking a look at the other deals like the Wichita E-School. From the report below, it is apparent that the State Department wants more accountability to go along with the support the state is funding. You knew it had to come. As Jim has written, there is no free lunch.
We again urge homeschoolers to take full responsibility to educate their children and to reject State offers to help.
You will likely hear much more on this topic in coming months and years. A number of CHECK officers will be attending HSLDA's national conference in early October which will have a panel to discuss the experiences of the various states. On a e-mail list for state leaders, I have heard of a number of problems stemming from these virtual schools. Later this fall, CHECK will have a support group leaders retreat, where again this will be a major topic of discussion. We have heard of one support group in Kansas has already split over Moundridge.
Please let us know what you think about this issue. Has the public school district in your area offered any such programs to homeschoolers in your area?
David Barfield, Chairman
Hutch News reprint
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