For Immediate Release: District-run policies in Alaska and Iowa serve as better models for publicly funded homeschool support
Canton, Ma., 4/11/2019—The Coalition for Responsible Home Education (CRHE), a national nonprofit organization that advocates for homeschooled children, is urging Tennessee lawmakers to use caution when considering vouchers or other forms of public funding for homeschooled children. Legislation to create publicly funded Education Savings Accounts for private school and homeschooled students has created controversy in Tennessee throughout the most recent legislative season.
“There are better ways to support homeschooled students than Education Savings Accounts, which amount to simple cash transfers and rarely involve either sufficient accountability or the holistic support homeschooled students need,” said Coleman. “The best programs bring resources to both homeschooled students and school districts.”
Coleman pointed to Alaska’s district-run homeschool programs and Iowa’s Home School Assistance Programs as examples to be emulated.
School districts across Alaska run programs that enroll homeschooled children. Districts receive state funding for these programs, and provide parents with reimbursements for education expenses. Families are assigned a teacher who answers questions and supports the student’s progress. Many programs offer homeschool resource centers where students can take enrichment classes. Iowa’s district-run Home School Assistance Programs operate similarly: school districts that run these programs receive state funding, offer homeschooling parents access to homeschool resource centers, and grant homeschooled children access to public school programs, classes, and support services.
“When states provide public funding directly to homeschooling families, it is imperative to ensure that the expenditures are accounted for,” Coleman said. In Alaska, there are strict guidelines surrounding what expenses can and cannot be reimbursed. Lawmakers in some states have voiced concern about the abuse of other forms of direct-aid, such as adoption subsidies which incentivize parents to adopt older children or children with disabilities.
“While many homeschooling parents provide their children with a rich, child-centered educational environment, some parents homeschool to hide drug problems, cover up parental neglect, or avoid mandatory reporters,” said Coleman. “Providing funding without accountability could encourage such parents to choose homeschooling for a financial payout, without considering their children’s best interests.”
“We are pleased to see Tennessee lawmakers thinking about the needs of homeschooled students,” Coleman said. “Rather than tacking homeschoolers onto a program designed to help families pay private school tuition, however, we would urge lawmakers to consider implementing policies like those in Alaska and Iowa, which center homeschooled children’s needs in a more holistic way.”
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.