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.

Making it “Count”

I heard someone say that they decided that a homeschool charter program would be better than a traditional public school because then the soccer team that their child was on would “count” as P.E. I’ve heard this a lot among homeschoolers over the years. This kind of learning or that doesn’t “count” for school. But it seems so strange to me. Does it “count” for education? To me, everything counts for education, every moment of my day, even my restful cup of tea and tv show in the afternoon.

When we tell children to read this book instead of doing this thing because it “counts” for school, we are teaching them that they should only do the things that someone else has deemed important. We are teaching them to ignore their inner desires and needs and put an authority’s list first. It translates all over their lives and eventually they will search for doing what counts for something instead of what is right or good for them and their families.

Recently, I saw a cartoon on Facebook of a woman in bed and her husband asking her to go for a morning walk with him. She said she couldn’t because her FitBit was still charging and the steps wouldn’t count. It was supposed to be funny and absurd, but this is exactly what we teach our children through 12 years of schooling, that only counts if an authority sees it and deems it good.

A Highlight

I was at Walmart yesterday buying some things for today’s Drama Club and the man in front of me at the register asked if I was doing an art project. I told him no, the stuff was for a homeschool drama club we started. He smiled and said “That’s something the schools don’t do much of anymore, the arts.” I told him that’s one of the great things about homeschooling, when we want something we just create it. He agreed that was pretty cool.
It was refreshing to hear someone’s first response to homeschooling be a positive one. And it made me think . That really is one of the best things about homeschooling. We don’t need to petition anyone or get any bureaucracy to go along with an idea. We don’t need permission at all. We just see what we need and make it happen, either in our own homes, at the park, or wherever!

The Game

Recently, a friend agreed to help my sons get better at motocross. He raced a lot when he was a kid and thought he could help them a bit on the track. Little did he know that he would be helping me as well.

It’s all a mind game.” Racing really is one of those mind game things. One of the biggest things holding you back may not be your skill, but you mindset, your fear; fear of failing, fear of the riders around you or that they are better than you are. Those riders probably think the same thing about you. If you think they are the best, you are probably closer to winning. It sounds so corny, doesn’t it? But it works. Confidence is the key to winning. You can’t go out there thinking you’re just going to finish and not fall and then end up winning no matter how great your skills are. Leave the gate feeling on top of the world and you’re more likely to get to the finish line first. It’s crazy.

As I was sitting under the awning of our RV in the pits, I started thinking to myself that this advice probably applies to me somehow. The thing that puts the most anxiety into our race weekend for me is not whether or not my boys will get hurt. It’s whether or not we should be there at all. Do we belong? Are we in the right place? What do these people think of us? Who’s the authority here? What are my qualifications for being here? What are the rules? This is me, but my sons don’t do this and they are so much happier. They read the website, they get what they need, and they jump in and do what everyone else is doing. This is what home education is all about, putting the “authority” in yourself, not others.

So I decided that day that I would play the “mind game” too. This is where we want to be and if someone has a problem with it they are welcome to say something, until then we will just keep doing what we’re doing. We belong there because we have the desire to race and that’s all the authority and qualification we need.

Once again on the home education journey, I’m taking a page from my sons’ book, I’m following their lead and seeing where it takes us. So far it’s been an amazing journey!

Education vs. Schooling

The difference between home education and home schooling isn’t what system you are using. Education is what you give yourself. Schooling is what someone else imposes on you.

If you are using a private school and you pay another person to pick out the curriculum and assign tasks that you follow, that is schooling. If you pay a private school to help you find resources, gather information, and your family is discovering new ideas and following interests, giving and receiving feedback on what is and isn’t working, that is education.

If you are using a public school charter and they determine what you will be teaching your child and when, you follow the guidelines, check-in, and impose their schedule and curriculum on your children, then you are schooling. If you belong to a public school charter and you tell them what you are looking for in a family education and they help you find the resources to stay on and expand that path, if your family is reading and learning together with the financial help and expertise of the charter, if you are learning to really know your children, that is education.

There are pro’s and con’s in every system and they are relative to each human being and family. What is a pro for me and mine, may be a con for you and yours. The trick is to respect other people’s choices, to understand and support others on their path, and to believe that they are doing what is best for them with the information they have.

There have been times when it may seem to others that I am peeved or disappointed with someone’s choices. Sometimes I am. I am human. I am still learning and growing as well. I’m doing the best I can with what I have at the moment. I think the thing that bothers me most is when I see good, intelligent people (seemingly) not making choices at all or not believing they have a choice. But then that’s not following my own advice, is it?

John Taylor Gatto

I read a lot of John Taylor Gatto when I first started homeschooling ten years ago and more again a few years ago when I found “Weapons of Mass Instruction”. It was one of those turning points in my thinking and love sharing his work with others. If you’re interested in learning more about the education system we have and how we got to this point, I strongly recommend reading any of his work.

There are so many YouTube videos of interviews with him but this one is especially nice.
The Ultimate History Lesson

And his website and blog are wonderful resources. Go check it out but be ready for an emotional ride!

Exploring Unschooling Podcast

Do you listen to podcasts? I’ve only recently discovered them and love them! In the car, while washing dishes, taking a tea and knitting break, I get out my phone and pick a podcast to listen to. Are there times you find that it might be convenient to have something interesting to listen to?

Here’s a new one to feast your ears on. It’s the Exploring Unschooling Podcast by Living Joyfully! From the website:

“Explore unschooling with Pam Laricchia, unschooling mom and author. Enjoy in-depth interviews with veteran unschooling parents sharing their family’s experience, dig into a wide range of unschooling topics with experienced guests, and get answers to listener questions in the Q&A episodes. Choosing to live and learn without school isn’t as intimidating as you might imagine. Children really do love learning when it’s driven by curiosity rather than curriculum, and the strong and trusting relationships that develop in unschooling families are priceless.”

A Thomas Jefferson Education

If you are interested in the ideas of A Thomas Jefferson Education, there is a YouTube video of Shannon Brooks presenting the basics available! It’s not as great as being there and being able to ask questions and discuss the ideas with others, but it is a good start.

Intro to Thomas Jefferson Education Video