This is part two of a five-part series. Part 1 may be read here.
2. Is the government doing this to help us?
No. More money will not give our children a better education. Our average homeschool educational results are already far ahead of government schools. There is no academic reason to increase the average amount of money spent on homeschooling. Would you trade in your paid-off 2016 Honda Odyssey for a 2000 version? No way! Don’t trade in your child’s excellent education for the inferior government schooling from which you fled! Homeschoolers already have a proven track record of superior educational results, and achieve those results on a very limited budget. If the government is not going to offer money to cause an increase your results, what other reasons could there be for offering homeschoolers ESA funds?
One reason for giving certain “problematic” students ESA funds for homeschooling is to rid the public school of a child they have given up on, or who is costing too much money. School administrators, who want to rid the school of a child who is a behavior problem, or who is dragging down the school’s all-important average ISTEP scores, can tempt a parent into taking the money and going away. As described before, a special education student costs (on average) far more than the amount of ESA funds that would be spent on the student. School administrators are under enormous pressure to raise ISTEP scores, and transferring the lowest scoring students to “homeschooling” would raise the average. Again, the parent would be left “holding the bag,” and ultimately it is the student who pays the price. Because the student would be classified as “homeschooled” in the end, it casts a shadow upon all homeschoolers.
Parents who have had their child in public schools for many years can sometimes place their child in homeschool and do very well, but this should be a well-informed decision, not a hastily made decision prompted by an administrator threatening expulsion or suspension, and not by an administrator tempting the parent with ESA funds. ESA funds have been used fraudulently in other states. This situation is setting the parent and child up for failure.
Another reason the government would give homeschoolers money through a government-funded and government-supervised ESA is to increase regulation and control of our children’s education. To begin with, you have to spend ESA funds only on items that are approved, including home school curriculum. Don’t worry about who decides what’s on the approved list, those kinds of decisions will be made by “well qualified” people. Don’t worry about what “well qualified” really means, either. The state of Nevada has an ESA program, and it is administered by the Nevada State Treasurer’s Office, “who is responsible for establishing the regulations, timelines, and program successes.” Nevada has a Department of Education, so why is the State Treasurer’s office responsible for their ESA program? In Arizona, the ESA program is jointly administered by the Department of Education and the State Treasurer’s office. Florida’s ESA program is publicly funded, but privately managed by a nonprofit organization.
What motive could lobbyists have for pushing the government to increase funds for homeschoolers? Who is behind the scenes lobbying to give homeschoolers money? Look to see who else could benefit financially from homeschoolers being given more money, and it is easy to speculate and make some good guesses. As homeschooling grows, the market for homeschooling curriculum and online classes grows, and those who provide these things have surely seen this opportunity in market growth. The problem for homeschooling curriculum growth is that homeschoolers spend so little money compared to public schools. Providers could make so much more money if only homeschoolers had access to the kind of funding that government has. After all, so many homeschooling families are single income and struggle to afford “extras.” This brings us to the next lie, that ESA funds will help low-income families…
Lisa Yankey is a happy homeschooling mom of three, but she never expected to homeschool. Teaching runs in her blood – she is a former public school teacher, and her mother, father, and brother are all former public school teachers. During her childhood and as a teacher herself, she recognized many issues in public school. She went to law school at night in a long-term plan to help improve public schools. She used to believe that every child could receive a good and appropriate education from public school. She realized the error of this belief when she watched her own child suffering in public school. She began homeschooling shortly after her oldest child had a disastrous start to public school first grade, and she has never looked back.
She kept her career as a part-time attorney and works for herself as a sole practitioner, with a practice area in immigration law. She is known particularly for her representation of victims of domestic abuse. She continues teaching adults as a speaker on immigration law at continuing legal education events for fellow lawyers. Lisa resides in Noblesville, Indiana (Hamilton County). with her husband, three children, two dogs, and a cat.