November 25, 2005

Homeschooling or Public School At Home

There is much discussion these days of the significance of having a distinction between homeschooling and "public school at home" such as virtual ps charter schools. While this subject justifies and will receive a lengthier treatment from me right now I want to offer a point.

The summary of my perspective on the issue is that the difference is substantial and important. The best analogy to sum it up is the difference between homeschooling and public school at home to me is the difference between working at home for a company and owning your own home based business. While both may be done at the same location - the location does not make everything about them the same. If I own my own business I call the shots, I am fully responsible and accountable for my actions. In short I am in control. If on the other hand I work from home for a company - I simply control the location I am in - I am still accountable to the office, they own my work and they make my assignments and decide if I do them well or not. In short, they are in control and I simply gain the freedom of being in my own home.

To conflate the two concepts of telecommuting (working at home) and owning your own home based business would have serious legal implications and therefore the two are kept distinct and separate. The same must be true for the distinction between homeschooling and participating in a public school program in your home. If you do not wish to see the laws and standards of public schooling foisted upon home educators then be sure the two concepts do not become conflated. We can not allow the two concepts to be merged into one or the laws will become muddled and confusing. Keep homeschooling and public school in the homes separate as they should be.

I have no direct problem with public school at home. For many this is a good option. However, it is not homeschooling and it should not be labeled as such. To allow this to happen is to allow a slow and subtle yet powerful erosion on the rights of home educators. The key difference is to remember who is in control. Who chooses curriculum, who is grading, who decides what is tested, who is funding it, who in short runs and controls it?

If I were to claim that I had a home owned business while I was telecommuting you can be assured I would be fired. I would not have a leg to stand on in a court of law. We need to be sure those rock solid distinctions stay in place for us as well. The simple analogy can go a long way to take the charge and emotionalism out of this debate. Keep it on target, keep it neutral and keep your eye on the important distinctions that need to be maintained. Remember this is not about us vs them or "real" homeschoolers versus "fake" homeschoolers. This is about protecting laws and rights of home educators while allowing others to take advantage of programs offered to them through their public school disctricts. We don't need to be against virtual academies and charter schools - rather we need to be proactive about protecting the legal distinctions that protect our rights as home educators.

Read my follow-up post and join in the online symposium.

Just my 02.


  1. What a clear explanation. I wish somebody had thought to describe the difference that way before.

  2. Yes, I agree that it is certainly in the best interest of homeschoolers to focus on protecting their rights rather than attacking charter schools. Virtual academies and charter schools are not going away. Being "against" them is pointlessly negative. Also, I know that some homeschooling co ops exclude virtual academy students. That is their prerogative of course, but it doesn't seem very large hearted.