Sunday, March 26, 2006

Charter Homeschooling in California

The Orange County Register carried an interesting article today on a proposed charter school for Orange County. The Orange County Board of Education is considering approving the charter over the objections of the Newport-Mesa School District, which has argued the charter isn't needed since the district already provides educational services.

Of course, the entire point of charter schools is to provide educational options and competition for "regular" public schools, and the districts don't like seeing their funding drain away as students leave for charters. And in particular, Newport-Mesa objects to the charter because it's a school/homeschooling hybrid. I suspect the teachers' union sees a threat to jobs, among other things.

Public charter homeschooling is working well in other California districts. The proposed charter provides a different variation, with a mix of classroom activities and homeschooling. Some in the education establishment are threatened by the success of parent-led learning, and I suspect they hope to stop further growth of charter homeschools.

Charter homeschooling is in a curious position between public schools and homeschoolers, where on the one hand some public school "educators" see the concept as a job threat, and on the other hand many independent private homeschoolers worry it could ultimately lead to greater government regulation of independent homeschooling. While I think it's wise to be vigilant that the rights of independent homeschoolers are maintained, my take is that charter homeschooling will, in the end, lead to greater educational freedom for all. The more parents are willing to be involved, "think outside the box," and question the way the public school system has been run for decades, the more parents will demand options and the freedom to educate their children as they -- not the government -- see fit.


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