Clarification

This is something I posted to a local Facebook group. It is a subject close to my heart and I want so badly to help people not be afraid, combative, or stressed about homeschooling.
First of all, if you are enrolled in a charter school, you are in the public school system. There are only public and private schools in California, no “homeschoolers.” That’s actually a very good thing and something that advocates of secular and religious homeschooling in the 80’s and 90’s worked hard to keep that way. It’s a way of protecting us from the “tyranny of the majority,” giving ALL public and private schooled “homeschoolers” the same protections as those that enroll in the corner school or pay out of pocket for the church’s private school.
 
Second, I think it might help a lot of people to think of the local school district, the charter school, the church private school, and all the other “school” options as individual businesses trying to get you to buy their services. Walmart doesn’t lose money if you shop at Target, but they do want you to shop at their store and will do what they can to entice you to shop there first. And in meetings, they do say, “We’re losing money to that other company! What can we do to stop them?!” Businesses use all kinds of tactics to get you to buy their products, including advertising, sales, surveys, etc. And (unfortunately) since the government is now involved with more and more every day, they also have government ways to force you to shop there, from stopping other stores from coming in the area to lobbying government to change laws in their favor.
 
Schools are very similar. They want you to buy their product (enroll your child) and they will do what is available to get you do just that. The role of government in our schools has added a bit of fear to all of this because they have the use of force on their side. They made laws (long ago) that will put you in jail if you don’t enroll your child somewhere. Kind of a bit of a monopoly, I’d say.
 
That fear of the use of force is what we are all reacting to, but I’m refusing to do so. We don’t have to worry what the school district is up to. We don’t need to get them to see our side. We can just use other options, ignore what they are doing, and do what’s best for our families right now. I’ve found over the years, while working with the legislation and legal teams at CHN, that interacting directly with the school district as a community only creates stress and solves very little. Bureaucracy is an infuriating slug when your child is growing up so fast! They just want to find ways to “help” and like a vampire you’ve invited into the house, they’ve found a way to get into the homeschool community. Most of us don’t want their help. We just want to be left alone. I’m not saying anyone shouldn’t interact with them, I’m just saying you don’t have to. Sometimes the best way to fix something is to let it sit on its own, walk away, “opt out.”
 
That being said, to stay on top of legal issues, I’d recommend joining and following a statewide advocacy group. CHN, HSC, HSLDA, CHEA of CA, all have people watching the legislation that comes in and out and they warn us when we need to “do something.” I love advocacy groups of all kinds! It lightens my load of citizenship and lets me focus on my family.

Calling All Charter School Vendors

I like to be completely candid on this blog. I hope many of you can appreciate that. And while this page generally promotes home education through private means, that doesn’t mean I’m unsympathetic to folks that choose the public school options. I have recently talked to a few small business owners that had concerns about being paid as vendors through public charter schools that cater to homeschooling families and decided to take my concerns to social media for answers.

At first, you’re probably thinking, “You’re not a charter school parent. Why do you care?” What business is it of mine what the charter schools are doing? I have several reasons.

First off, I’m a taxpayer and that means that part of my family’s income pays for those public schools even if I don’t utilize them. That makes it important to me and that’s what causes problems with this type of system. That is a whole other topic and blog post, not one I’m going to get into here. Let’s just say that even if you don’t have children or use the public school system at all, you are paying for them and you should be concerned with how they spend your money.

Second, I’m a member of my community and it’s small businesses and those small business owners are generally friends in a small town. The businesses that are becoming vendors aren’t necessarily “school” connected. Many of them don’t really understand what a charter school is or how they work. I’m connected to the homeschool community, so I decided to try and find some answers for them.

For small businesses, if a parent asks you about becoming a vendor for a charter school because there is “free money” involved, I’d suggest doing a search for that school and read up on them. They usually have a public list of current vendors. You could try contacting a random sample of them and asking how it’s going. I’ve also learned that there is a lot of bureaucracy in these schools, paperwork needs to be done a certain way at a certain time. Be proactive about finding out exactly what you need to do to get paid by the charter for your services to the school.

Here are a few articles that might help you understand what a charter school is and how it works.

HSC’s page on Charter Schools – There are links within this article with more information.

Also, there is now a Facebook group especially for vendors of charter schools called Charter Vendor Only Discussion. It was created so that businesses can post their concerns and how they’ve made things easier for their company. It’s brand new so it will take some time to gather members, but once it gets rolling I’m sure it will be a valuable resource.

For parents that utilize these schools, be sure you are getting all the information from your school and holding up your end of the bargain for the company’s that have decided to become vendors for that school. As customers using funds other than our own, we need to be extra vigilant about this. Small businesses typically have a very small profit margin and can’t afford to continue to put out services and not get paid in a timely manner.

There are many groups out there that can help you navigate the waters of charter school rules. The one I’ve found most useful lately is a Facebook group called So Cal Charter School Info. Unfortunately, I haven’t found anything helpful outside of Facebook groups. If you are connected to Yahoo Groups, there may be one there. Do a search there for “California charter school support.” The best thing you can do if you are considering using a charter is to talk to other parents about the school they are using, ask a lot of questions, find out what they really require. You should also set up an interview with a person from the charter you are considering and ask a lot of questions about it to see if it is a right fit for your family. You can take the answers to some message boards or groups, even your local park day, and see if other families are experiencing what the charter representative is claiming. Enrolling in a charter school should get the same scrutiny as buying a new car. And just because that car is right for one family, doesn’t mean it will be right for yours. That’s my advice!

I hope you found this information helpful. I’ll keep an eye out for more and pass it along as I find it.