Being an “independent” homeschooler in Alaska means being a homeschooling parent who does not depend on or participate in, in any way, a government sponsored and directed program of home education. Homeschooling independently of such systems is an outstanding option that is the legal right of every Alaskan parent. Eagle River Christian Homeschool Association has a beautiful breakdown of educational options in Alaska. You can click here to see ERCHA’s list and accompanying links.
Independent homeschoolers are actually what most homeschoolers are in the other states in the U.S. Alaska is unique in that the majority or parents who educate their children at home do so through public school, tax and government funded programs. These programs like IDEA, Raven, CyberLynx, and Fairbanks B.E.S.T. have grown so popular that now, in Interior Alaska, when a parent mentions that his or her family homeschools, very often the first question asked is, “What *program are you with?” (*program meaning public school directed program, also known as charter schools in some states). These public-school-at-home programs call their members “homeschoolers” and, since their members (who are parents) educate their children at home under program oversight, are considered homeschoolers in Alaska. However, independent homeschoolers – parents who do not participate in these programs – are true homeschoolers in the sense of the word, the type of homeschoolers that would be the majority in the other states of America, since no other state that I’ve heard or read of has as many programs and as many members of these programs as Alaska has.
The two biggest differences between those who educate at home with public school directed programs and independent homeschoolers are in funding each family’s homeschool and the level of parental responsibility in the family homeschool. In regards to funding, independent homeschooling parents fund 100% of their children’s homeschool expenses, which include curriculum, private and group music or sports lessons, field trips, materials, and everything else. Independent homeschoolers do not use tax-payer funds nor government funding for their homeschools and in return, they are completely free to create unique homeschooling experiences for their own families; they are free to study what they want, when they want, as their children need, and best of all, to openly, freely put The God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob in His rightful spot in their children’s education if they so desire. Public school directed programs use tax-payer and government funding to pay for many of the aforementioned things (sports lessons, curriculum, etc.) for their member families, and very importantly, may restrict, if not outright reject, a family’s plan to include God in their members’ home educational plans and teaching/learning.
In regards to responsibility, independently homeschooling parents assume full responsibility for their children’s education. This includes not only financial responsibility, but total responsibility to create a homeschool journey specifically for and tailored-to their family, including: choosing or creating (if need or desire be) each child’s full curriculum; deciding whether their children will take standardized tests or not; being accountable to themselves, and God if they are religious, for the full education of their children; scheduling school hours, vacations, and such at their sole discretion; and the list could go on and on. In the public-school-at-home programs, participating parents are only partially responsible and much of what they plan, or want, to do in their family homeschools fall to the final decision, or discretion, of their program teacher or the public school district board she works for. Mom and dad provide input, the programs provide the final say. In independent homes, mom and dad have the final say.
Independents keep the works of our nation’s homeschool pioneers (the ones who fought the battles and cleared the paths through the early years of modern home education in America) alive and well, they keep these paths clear and stand in protection of the right to educate their children without government oversight; they’re the parents who exercise, defend, and protect their right to direct the education of their children, who assume the full responsibility for doing so.
If you are considering homeschooling in Alaska, please look into your independent option. The links below are, in order, an outstanding way to start building a firm foundation for yourself about this:
The best place to start is in knowing our law, a legal analysis of which can be found by clicking here (it’s a PDF file).
Watch the trailer below –
If you are a Christian (though the reasons can hold true for other religions, as well) click here to read an excellent piece from the Private and Home Educators of California (it’s a PDF file).
If you’re interested in more information about homeschooling independently of public school directed or public-school-at-home programs, or joining NSIH, please e-mail northstarindependents(at)gmail(dot)com