Posted by: tundrajem | July 1, 2017

Thoughts on Sports Participation during High School


In Alaska, homeschoolers do not have to report or seek approval to homeschool their children. As a matter of fact, the state has zero requirements for these households: no subject requirements, no credit requirements, no graduation requirements, no reporting or testing. There is no state oversight of homeschooling families. Nadda. Zilch. Zero. Parents are free to choose what course of action best fits their children, what curriculum to use and not use, what outside activities to participate in, what they deem appropriate and desire to require to graduate those children. Unfortunately, while the law is friendly, the state and local communities aren’t so receptive to these families because the state has muddied the waters when it comes to who is defined as a homeschooler. Desiring control, the law for homeschoolers to participate in local school sports and other extra-curricular activities at the high school level requires these unregulated homeschooling families to use an accredited program–and that accreditation is only recognized if the accrediting agency is AdvancEd. Families must consider what the trade-offs are if they wish to have their children participate in state-sanctioned school activities.

Is Alaska really homeschool friendly? Homeschooling is legalized with several options in Alaska Statute 14.30.010. For the high school level, under the statute for “equal access”, it is further defined,

‘alternative education program’ means a public secondary school that provides a nontraditional education program, including the Alaska Military Youth Academy; a public vocational, remedial, or theme-based program; a home school program that is accredited by a recognized accrediting body; a charter school authorized under AS 14.03.250 – 14.03.290; and a statewide correspondence school that enrolls students who reside outside of the district in which the student resides and provides less than three hours a week of scheduled face-to-face student interactions in the same location with a teacher who is certified under AS 14.20.020 [AS14.30.365(c)(1)]

Only one of the alternative education program definitions is not affiliated with state-controlled education. The definition of home school is further blurred by those statewide correspondence schools that tout “homeschooling” in their names even though enrollment equates to public school students. Although homeschooling may be an alternative educational choice, homeschooling as defined in AS 14.30.010 is not when a high school student wishes to participate in interscholastic and extracurricular activities at a local, traditional, brick & mortar school. Subsidizing the homeschooling movement through those statewide correspondence schools, costs of classes and other activities not affiliated with traditional schools continues to increase and is directly driven by the influx of state funds into the homeschooling arena. If you choose to follow the law as legalized in 1994 with AS14.30.010(b)(12), prepare to defend your position against the masses of correspondence homeschoolers and expect to pay a premium for educational opportunities outside of your home classroom.

 

While alternative education programs are defined for the high school student wishing to participate in extracurricular activities at a local school, using an accredited program to legally homeschool is completely optional unless you are seeking that “equal access.” What is wrong with this requirement? Firstly, the state does not require it under the statute that has legalized homeschooling. Why do they then require it for high school? Control! Homeschoolers are not required to report to any state entity whatsoever. Seeking approval and reporting and proving parents are educating their children are not among the law. How, then, shall the state hold their GPA requirements to someone who is not in the system? While parents can issue GPAs and grades, the state, who does not invest any funding into these families, needs a way to track them and make certain that these families are really educating their children. The answer is to require these legal homeschool families to use an accredited program because (1) they can now be tracked by the state, (2) the state can affirm an education is taking place without subsequent reporting, and (3) the state can confirm that the child is being educated to the state’s standards, which apply to public education as a whole. Accredited programs often equate to school at home and can not be individualized to exploit a student’s talent and strengths. All too often, these accredited programs flaunt and highlight a student’s weakness with little or no thought to how to help the student improve to succeed in those areas. At the high school level, for “equal access”, homeschoolers are required to fit the mold–that very mold that pioneer homeschooling families bucked and turned away from.

 

So why else has the state required a home school program be accredited for participation in high school sports and activities? Because high school sports and interscholastic activities are a big deal! Colleges like to see lots of activities and sports since it shows them that an individual has had a well-rounded high school career and knows how to interact with people outside of his or her own age-group. Yet homeschoolers have been providing these experiences to colleges long before they were even allowed to participate, legally, in these school-specific activities. So is it really a big deal? For traditional students and their parents, it is. Attending any budget discussion at a local school district meeting where the district intends to cut the activities for their schools, you will find many a parent who is avidly against these such cuts. Story after story reflect the same theme: “Little Johnny would have never finished school if it weren’t for (insert sport or activity here),” and “My Joey would have dropped out if it hadn’t been for (insert sport or activity here).” Clearly, many parents view these additional activities as cornerstones to keeping their children in a place that they rather not be–the public school classroom. Why, then, would homeschoolers want to be a part of a series of crutches that keep kids in school? Can a homeschooler actually “drop out” of home education? Who cares more about that child’s education: parents or the state and coach? Upon further reflection, many of those sports and activities provide a disservice to the homeschool student. Watching game film, bonding with team members, sitting through organizational meetings usually all occur at the school and during the normal school hours of which the homeschooled child is usually absent. Important information is missed and the facade of being a team player is all but destroyed when the homeschooler becomes the team outcast. For this reason, sports and other activities at a school should not be desired by the homeschooling community. It stands to foster discontent with the home while encouraging integration in the traditional school. Obviously, “equal access” is not intended to provide equal access, rather equal integration and submission.

 

In some legal terms, Alaska is homeschooling friendly. The state and local communities, however, are only friendly if you choose to be regulated and classified as a public school student in an alternative education program. “Equal access” isn’t so equal if a homeschooler wants to participate in an interscholastic activity, at the high school level, at a local public or private school. As homeschoolers, do we succumb to such a sly, sneaky, state tactic for control? Or do we rise up and say no, we won’t play your games and we won’t be controlled? Most importantly, do we stand together and find or make legal ways to allow homeschooled children to have these opportunities? Homeschooling Pioneers did just that. They fought, and fought hard, against the state who hunted them down to imprison them. They fought, and fought hard, to make the paradigm shift of homeschooling a legal and viable educational option. They fought, and fought hard, to gain college acceptance and recognition. In this day and age of subsidized “homeschooling,” or publicly funded “homeschooling”, do we continue to let the state discriminate against what the state has already deemed legal? Or do we fight, and fight hard, by making similar opportunities available without the state oversight of these activities? Which bandwagon do we jump on: public education or private education?
Posted by: tundrajem | October 11, 2016

Confident, Competent Communicators


North Star Independent Homeschoolers delightfully and proudly announces, as celebratory recognition, our very own member momma, Mrs. Makinen, is an Institute for Excellence in Writing (IEW) Registered Instructor! Besides being an amazing and important accomplishment, which can benefit the community as a whole, Mrs. Makinen is currently teaching a composition class to our group! Significantly, Registered Instructors are accredited by IEW and IEW endorses their teaching ability, which allows independents additional “credibility” without the need for state oversight. Tutoring is another service Mrs. Makinen is registered to offer our homeschooling community. While Mrs. Makinen is not limiting her services to just homeschoolers, she is beginning with NSIH Member families. Thank you, Mrs. Makinen! NSIH looks forward to your accredited assistance for our member families to create confident, competent communicators!

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Posted by: tundrajem | September 13, 2016

Home School Crisis


            mom_teaching_little_boy                   Homeschooling is arduous. Struggling financially can often put families at odds with their homeschooling decision. Suddenly losing employment, tragically losing a spouse, abruptly diagnosed with a major medical mode, these types of upheavals turn one upside-down and add enormous, monumental stress, which is harmful. When faced with such adversities, families may surrender their homeschooling desires. Families don’t have to. The Home School Foundation, State Ambassador Program, and State Ambassador Fund are available to eagerly and quickly assist when home school families are wrestling with financial difficulties threatening their educational decision. Homeschooling can be done.

                Home School Legal Defense Association founded, in 1994, the merciful and compassionate Home School Foundation, which is the charitable arm of HSLDA. At first only servicing home school groups, HSF notably and quickly identified and expanded when they began to help needy homeschooling families. Empathizing with the various financial hardships homeschooling families may face, several grants were established. These are a Godsend. While 7 grants are specific in nature, there are 2 financial aid programs available. Quickly contacting HSF staff may open the door to other help and assistance. Why not ask? The philanthropic Home School Foundation with its State Ambassador Program is a 501(c)3 organization which is here to help.

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                Organized in 2008, the State Ambassador Program bridges the needs of homeschooling families with Home School Foundation funds and the local faces of the homeschooling community. The State Ambassador Program is a network of compassionate, committed volunteers who are the service arm of HSF. Representing, informing, and providing information, service projects, and fundraising opportunities, Home School Foundation State Ambassadors are actively impacting the homeschooling community. Since the State Ambassador Program’s motto is “Many Hands Making a Difference in Your Homeschool Community,” there are four ways to volunteer to serve: State ambassadors, Community ambassadors, Service ambassadors, and Youth ambassadors. Actively and passionately ministering while promoting HSF’s principles to the community, the State Ambassador Program brings State Ambassador Funds and personal, friendly, familiar homeschooling faces to HSF.

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                The State Ambassador Fund is an important and integral part of the State Ambassador Program. Earmarked to directly assist homeschooling families in the state, the fund is comprised of contributions, donations, and fundraiser earnings. Upon receipt of funds, HSF processing fees are compassionately and graciously waived, as to allow 100% of funds to be available. Possibly the most significant detail, certain fundraiser earnings are matched, dollar for dollar, by HSF. More bang for your buck! Fundraising activities must be approved by HSF. Because the State Ambassador Fund needs replenished, the current, continual fundraiser, which is approved, is an on-going, perpetual used curriculum sale. The State Ambassador Program relies upon the State Ambassador Fund to assist struggling home school families throughout the state.

                Homeschooling during financial crisis may seem impossible. With help from the Home School Foundation, its State Ambassador Program, and the State Ambassador Fund, homeschooling through difficult times is possible! Most significantly, the State Ambassador Fund consists of monies earmarked for families in that state. Matching funds are sometimes available from HSF. When a family is identified as needing assistance, this fund is what goes beyond a standard HSF grant. Consider donating (online donations accepted at https://www.homeschoolfoundation.org/index.php?id=31&fundid=260) or purchasing next year’s home school curriculum at the perpetual used curriculum sale (details and contact form located at http://www.lifeinthelastfrontier.net/home-school-foundation-alaska/). Your generosity is appreciated! Financial crisis does not have to affect your commitment to home school.

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