California Charter School

(Timothy Willett) #1

Hi I live in California and my wife and I are deciding if we want to home-school as a private school or through a charter program.

The obvious benefit of charter program is that they give you $2600 a year to spend on a child, towards curriculum and other educational expenses.

Most of the families at the co-op we are apart of are pretty adamantly against the charter route, as you can’t spend the money on any faith based curriculum.

A couple of years ago that sounded like it would be a deal breaker for me too, but now as I’ve come to accept that main stream science and orthodox Christianity can be in harmony, I’m realizing I don’t necessarily need a “Christian Science” or “Christian History” curriculum and maybe even prefer not to have one, but instead use a secular curriculum and then supplement with things that help teach them to think “Christianly” about Science and History and all other areas of education. Thus, I’m wondering if there is any real reason that I should be opposed to doing a charter based home schooling, and if the general fear and opposition among parents that I am hearing is mainly due to the anti-evolutionary approach and treating the Bible as more of a science and history text book.

Has anyone else worked through this or know other type of restrictions I should consider when deciding between filing as a private school or going through a charter program?

(Shawn T Murphy) #2

Dear Timothy,
My daughter went to the California Virtual Academy (CAVA) which is a K12 school. She did this while pursuing an acting career to give her flexibility in her schedule, but this flexibility could be used your purpose to customize a Christian curriculum to complement the school’s. She had no trouble getting into college with the high school degree she received.

Good Luck!

(Christy Hemphill) #3

The creators of the Christian curriculum Sonlight developed Bookshark for this situation. It’s not going to include anything anti-faith in it. If you want to, you could even look at the Sonlight booklists and add in the explicitly Christian books (missionary biographies and Bible studies and whatnot) that were taken out to make it acceptable for charter schools.

I would think the big question would be what other reporting or compliance requirements go along with the choice to file as a charter school and if they match what you would have done anyway. Would you have to keep portfolios or have home visits? The people who are usually stressed about these things are the ones who feel there is a gap between what they are teaching and what he state wants them to teach. If you are teaching standard science and history, and don’t have any kooky Fundamentalist ideas, like “girls don’t need to learn math because they’ll never work outside the home,” then you don’t have anything to worry about. If the reporting requirements aren’t much different than for private schools then I don’t see how getting to spend free money on secular curriculum is such a bad thing. No one can stop you from buying Christian resources with your own money and teaching whatever additional topics you would like to teach in your own home. I was a public school teacher and have a lot of public school teachers in my immediate family and circle of friends, so my default view is that educators really do want what is best for kids and some degree of guidance by the state and oversight of homeschooling is healthy. But there is quite a bit of distrust in some homeschooling communities who see educators and the state education system as an arm of the evil, liberal, godless state. I was homeschooled as a child. My dad was a public school teacher. My parents had a great relationship with the local school officials and worked quite cooperatively with them until we went to school in middle school.

Some people simply aren’t confident enough in their own beliefs to add in their Christian worldview. They need a curriculum to spell it out for them. My personal opinion is that a lot of the “Christian history” programs incorporate some pretty distasteful dominionist theology (which I find racist) into American history and they often use dates for ancient history that are non-standard (to fit their flood geology). Mystery of History, which is used in many Christian homeschool programs does this. (We discussed that some here: Biblical vs. Secular approach to education: What's the difference?)

And then most explicitly Christian science programs are militantly anti-evolution.

(Laura) #4

That sounds amazing – I wish my state did that!

This is similar to the viewpoint I’ve gradually come to as I’ve observed the evolution of the homeschool movement. I think Bible curriculum can be very important, but I’m not adamant that every other book we use must be written as if filtered through the sieve of my own personal “Christian worldview.” Good luck as you navigate these decisions!

Pretty sure that’s one of the big reasons I was homeschooled. :wink: But I also agree with you about “Christian history” programs. I’m sure some are good, but it can be hard to navigate – even more so than science, for me anyway.

(Mark D.) #5

Just as an aside, spending time on this site has moved me to a much more favorable perspective on home schooling, charters and private schools.

I taught in California public schools for the last 25 years of my working years and during all that time I always resented these for holding back from committing to the general good of all students. Private schools in particular seemed like a way to cream the students whose families are most capable of supporting them in order to concentrate the benefit for just their kids, the rich getting richer. I also did not fully approve of home schooling for religious reasons, as some of my cousins did.

As an atheist myself I was always careful not to align for or against any religious denomination, not too hard to do as a math specialist. Occasionally a young budding atheist would antagonize a believing student and I would never support that, gratuitous disrespect is never okay. I thought then that if kids religious affiliation could not hold up in a pluralistic setting, so be it. But not all teachers are as cautious about not promoting their own viewpoints, both those who believe and those who don’t.

I no longer favor a single public school approach for all kids. Religious faith is on the wane and those for whom it matters need to make careful choices for their kids. In Berkeley where I taught, believers make up less than 40% of the population. Our district was hardly value neutral, but it very much was world view neutral and perhaps that isn’t always enough to promote the religious values one wants for their kids.

Good luck to you, @twillett. You have important choices to make and I wish you success.

(Phil) #6

Here in Texas, and I am sure elsewhere, the homeschool organizations lobby hard against voucher funding programs because of underlying fear that accepting funding would open homeschooling to government control. As it is, there are essentially no standards at all for homeschoolers, and as a result some do great, some do not.