To: Christi Patrick,
Subject: Proposed Draft Legislation Homeschool Support
Date: Sat Feb 27 23:32:09 MST 2016
I am a Utah citizen writing to you in your role as a member of the Education Committee. I suggest that the legislature consider authorizing public schools to create a new homeschool support program to provide support and resources to families who choose to homeschool. The desire for these programs has been established by charter schools and third party providers such as MyTechHigh, and it is time to consider applying this successful model in the local public schools.
This would be different from the currently authorized dual enrollment programs. Dual enrollment allows a homeschool student to take advantage of resources and classes for enrolled students. The envisioned homeschool support program would be a new public school program created to (1) use existing local public school expertise and resources to help parents who would like advice and support, and (2) to allocate taxpayer funding to schools for homeschool families who would like to be reimbursed for purchasing educational materials, with any remaining funding for those students remaining with the public schools.
The purpose of this draft legislation is:
To meet the demand that has been shown by third party providers such as MyTechHigh and charter schools such as Lumen Institute from homeschooling families looking for financial support for homeschool resources and advice and educational support, but who are not looking to have education provided outside the home.
To improve upon the model of the charter schools and third party providers, by allowing (but not requiring) homeschool support to be offered by public schools that are aware of the resources in their local communities and who are better situated to connect local families.
To have taypayer student funding remain in the local public schools, rather than provide profits to third party intermediaries such as MyTechHigh.
There are many homeschool families for whom homeschooling provides a financial burden that is outweighed by their conviction that homeschooling is right for their family, even though they pay taxes to educate others in the community. Taxpayer funds could help improve the education of these children.
There are many families who homeschool who would like occasional advice and support from trained teachers and staff as the families teach their own children. The public schools have experienced teachers and staff who could help if the program and funding were authorized.
Allowing the public schools to receive full funding for students in a homeschool support would encourage them to support these students and allow the schools to keep the funds remaining after the program is administered. For example, I understand that MyTechHigh would reimburse me up to $450 for materials for me to use to teach my kindergartener next year. A public school offering the same reimbursement for materials would have significant funding left over to benefit the school. (I would personally rather my tax dollars go to my local public school than MyTechHigh.)
Providing the program through the local district public school could lead to opportunities for the students to connect to other local homeschoolers, an improvement over the geographically distributed model in use by some charter schools and third party providers.
The local district public schools have access to educational software licenses and other resources that could help homeschooled students working from home.
This is intended to be an additional educational option, not a replacement for traditional homeschooling, charter schools, or dual enrollment.
Right now there are thousands of Utah families who, rather than enroll their students in dual enrollment programs through their local public schools have chosen to participate in programs which allow them to receive funding for curriculum and third party courses to teach at home. One example of this is the MyTechHigh custom course option. I believe Lumen Institute also offers a similar option. Dual enrollment through a public school allows students to attend classes taught by a public school. It is my understanding that the MyTechHigh custom course option reimburses a parent of up to $150 per subject for materials that the parent teaches with full discretion at home, via enrollment with a partner charter school. Simple math shows a remainder of several thousand dollars per student after reimbursement is paid.
To better understand the program that is currently popular, a member of your staff may wish to review a webcast on MyTechHigh available from www.toriannperkey.com/mytechhigh/. I do not know Ms. Perkey, but she is a supporter of MyTechHigh who put the webcast together to explain it to other homeschooling parents. It is a very long webcast, but seems provide a simple and helpful explanation.
Attached please find (1) a draft of legislation that could authorize public schools to create a homeschool support program, and (2) an annotated copy of the same draft that includes the text of the draft along with a line-by-line explanation of why I included each suggested section. This is the result of my brainstorming and is simply a draft intended to stimulate conversation.
Please understand that I am a private citizen of Utah. I am not a lobbyist and I do not have a financial interest in any charter schools or any other organization connected with this idea. I merely want to start a conversation in the legislature and offer this legislation to stimulate ideas. I am happy to discuss this draft with any of your staff. Please feel free to have your staff email me with any questions. I did not put my name on the draft documents, because I am just a member of the public and do not want any personal attention from them.
Annotated homeschool support bill.docx
homeschool support bill.docx