(Last year, I typed up a little info on charter schools for a document listing resources for new homeschoolers. I hate how divisive the charter school question has been in the homeschooling community and I truly think I can understand both sides of the coin. I hope to see more discussion on the topic between those who charter and those who don’t, instead of both groups avoiding and/or misunderstanding each other. Disclaimer: we currently have our fost-adopt son enrolled in a charter school – it was the only way the government would allow us to homeschool him. The other 3 are independent.)
The Charter School Question:
If you’re around homeschooling very long, you’ll realize there is a great controversy over charter schooling. I personally don’t think charter schooling is always wrong — but I do understand the deeper political and religious objections to it. There are political ramifications for the private homeschooling movement because of growth in the charter-at-home schools (possible loss of freedom to homeschool independently). Some folks also have strong religious convictions about placing themselves under the government for authority and/or dealing with that education code clause about “not teaching sectarian material” during “school hours” etc. Because these are tough issues, charter schooling should be approached prayerfully and with thoughtful consideration.
I’ve gone back and forth in my mind with convictions and opinions on chartering. We chartered ourselves for three semesters with 2 different schools. I have lots of friends who charter school and I understand why they do. Our family has decided being independent is simply more fun, more God-and-dad-focused, more in line with our political beliefs, and easier on my spiritual conscience! But, those art supplies sure were nice…I understand the pull.
If you do decide to charter, my personal recommendation is to make sure you have 1 year of independent homeschooling under your belt first, so you develop confidence in your parenting and don’t become dependent upon the freebies. Try the charter only after you’ve tasted how yummy independent is (my experience is that lots of people who start with charters never learn to be confident in their own skills and/or on depending upon God to provide.) And whatever you decide, realize you can always jump ship and try something different. (If you ever go from charter schooling to private, I’ve heard the best thing to do is mark “transfer to private school” on the form, so as not to raise “red flags” that your student may be truant.)
As far as charter schools go in the greater Sacramento area, I highly recommend South Sutter over ANY others! The person who started South Sutter believes in “Parent-Driven Education” and fights the rules and regulations so that his school can give parents quite a bit of discretion for using state funds! It’s the most “homeschooling” of all the charters I’ve seen and also gives quite a bit of funding! You can read about South Sutter at www.sscs.cc .
If nothing else, the following articles should help new homeschoolers understand what all the controversy is about over charter schooling v. independent schooling. I want charter schooling families to really understand why certain folks are against chartering so they won’t take any “disapproval” of charter schooling personally.
Mary Pride’s take on it: Charter Schools are GREAT public school alternatives, but don’t call them “homeschooling”