For Immediate Release: District-run policies in Alaska and Iowa serve as models for publicly funded homeschool support
Canton, Ma., 2/14/2019—The Coalition for Responsible Home Education (CRHE), a national nonprofit organization that advocates for homeschooled children, is urging South Carolina lawmakers to view select homeschool support programs in other states as models for state support for homeschooled students. South Carolina lawmakers are considering S. 131 and H. 3202, which would provide curriculum grants funded by tax credits. “We recommend programs that offer students and parents more holistic support while also ensuring autonomy,” said Coleman. “Alaska’s district-run homeschool programs and Iowa’s Home School Assistance Programs are excellent examples of such support, and should be emulated.”
In Alaska, school districts run programs that enroll homeschooled children. Districts receive 90% of the students’ per-pupil allowance from the state; parents receive $2,000 per child in reimbursements for education expenses, and are assigned a teacher who helps answer questions and support students’ progress. Many of these programs also offer homeschool resource centers, where students can take enrichment classes. Iowa’s district-run programs operate similarly—they receive state funding, offer homeschooling parents access to homeschool resource centers, and grant homeschooled children access to public school programs, classes, and support services. Homeschooled students with disabilities have access to district resources; districts receive funding for the services they provide.
“When monetary support is provided directly to homeschooling families, it is imperative that expenditures be accounted for,” Coleman added. “We urge lawmakers to ensure that the scholarship program created by S. 131 and H. 3202 include steps to ensure funds are spent on appropriate expenses.” In Alaska, there are strict guidelines surrounding what expenses can and cannot be reimbursed. Lawmakers in some states have become concerned about abuse of other forms of direct-aid, such as adoption subsidies, which can incentivize parents to adopt older children or children with disabilities in order to receive the money.
“Unfortunately, not all parents have their children’s best interests at heart. Some parents use homeschooling to cover up parental neglect or avoid mandatory reporters,” said Coleman. “Monetary support provided directly to homeschoolers should be offered as reimbursement for approved educational expenses only.” According to CRHE, direct monetary support works best when it is part of a more comprehensive program, like those in Alaska, which maintain relationships with homeschooling families and provide long term accountability.
“Funding for homeschooling should come with basic academic accountability,” said Coleman. Most homeschooling families in South Carolina choose to homeschool through a homeschool association, which allows them to opt out of testing and other forms of accountability. In states like Alaska and Iowa, parents voluntarily opt in to programs that offer basic accountability while also providing parents with financial support and other resources. “Lawmakers should strive to create policies that provide homeschooled students with holistic forms of support.”
The Coalition for Responsible Home Education is a national organization founded by homeschool alumni and dedicated to raising awareness of the need for homeschooling reform, providing public policy guidance, and advocating for responsible home education practices.