Money for homeschooling

Email of the Day:
Hello, I have a quick question. We are doing our own curriculum and not using Homelink or any other programs in our school district. But I know that the parents that do qualify for curriculum and educational material purchase. We live and pay taxes to support our schools, although we are not using them. Don’t we qualify for some financial help or reimbursement? Just wondering…

What I mean Homelink is helping the families with like $850 a year for the curriculum. Shouldn’t other homeschool families have the same right?

There’s two parts to this answer.
Part 1:
The first thing is this: Homeschooling in WA is narrowly defined as being “provided by a parent, educating his or her child only.” Homeschool parents have all the freedom,but with that freedom, we bear all the responsibility, including financial.

Part 2:
The folks in your local Homelink and other ALE/PPP programs sometimes erroneously refer to it as “homeschooling” (and, adding to the confusion, some *are* homeschoolers who are attending on a part time basis), but Homelink and all ALE/PPPs are public schooling, not homeschooling.

Homelink and other public school programs sometimes offer stipends to the families participating in their programs. These are public school funds for public school students enrolled in public school programs. This is why they’re not offered to homeschoolers.
If you enroll fulltime, your child is no longer a homeschooler, and you become an unpaid public school employee.

When you’re homeschooling, you have complete and total freedom to pursue your child’s education at your own pace.

It’s enshrined in our law:
RCW 28A.200.020 states that “parents who are causing their children to receive home-based instruction shall be subject only to those minimum state laws and regulations which are necessary in ensuring that a sufficient basic educational opportunity is provided to the children receiving such instruction. Therefore, all decisions relating to philosophy or doctrine, selection of books, teaching materials and curriculum, and methods, timing and place in the provision or evaluation of home-based instruction shall be the responsibility of the parent.”

The homeschool law also states that “the legislature recognizes that home-based instruction is less structured and more experiential than the instruction normally provided in a classroom. Therefore, the provisions relating to the nature and quantity of instructional and related educational activities shall be liberally construed.”

When you’re homeschooling, you can unschool, do CC, or anything inbetween. You can go at your own pace. For us, this meant that for many years were were “behind” grade level, and then we suddenly sprinted ahead (and now I have a 20 yo completing a double major) — and it’s never a problem to be “ahead” or “behind” or, worse, in our case: both.

What it meant for us was that my kidlet didn’t end up in special ed. (which is where she would have been headed), and she spent zero amount of time in a situation where, unintentionally, anyone would tell her she was “behind,” “less than,” or “stupid.” (I do not think the good folks who teach would ever do this intentionally — but kids understand and internalize that message anyway).

What it meant for us was freedom from paperwork, complete freedom in curriculum (or no curriculum) choice, and a great amount of flexibility to quit or start new things as they suited us or not. It meant zero input from the public school system, and it didn’t tie us to meetings or “accountability.”

That’s what it meant for us.

But, like a homeschool curriculum show-and-tell, the reasons ALEs would have been a bad fit for us are exactly why they might be a great fit for you and yours.

Many years ago, back when the $$ for PPPs were much higher, and could be used for almost anything, a friend showed me her math — if I remember correctly, she’d figured that the amount of time it took her to file all the forms and reports vs. the amount of $$ she got, that she’d figured she was making $300/hr. I think she dislikes forms almost as much as I do, but she made a great economic case for it.

Another friend did a number of these programs (she was part of one of the very first ones), and she adores forms, so she, too, had a very different view. I have zero patience for bureaucratic nonsense — I made Alaetheia do all her own form-filing when she wanted to head off to college 4-5 years before I thought she would when she was 12.

Some folks like the accountability. Some like having the free time to drop off the kidlets and go do something else. Some folks don’t want to do the work it takes to homeschool. Some need to be away from the brick-and-mortar school for a while (bulllying/ bad teacher/ etc.), but want a more seamless transition back after the precipitating incident has passed. There’s all kinds of perfectly good reasons to choose public school over homeschooling. To each is own. We never wanted to give up the freedoms we had in homeschooling; for us, the price was too high.