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Home schooling

Bill would give Florida home schoolers more access to college, career courses

Home education students would have more access to college classes and career education programs under a bill approved this morning by a Florida House panel. HB 1391 would allow homeschoolers to take career education courses offered by school districts. Public schools would be able to receive state per-pupil funding for courses they take. The bill, along with a counterpart in the state Senate, would also require school districts to accept parents' home education registrations if they meet the requirements in state law. Several parents told the committee that some districts have begun asking for information — like birth certificates and proof of residence — that go...

Students lift voices to celebrate School Choice Week

This fall, after wowing millions of TV viewers, falling just short of the final round on NBC's The Voice and gaining national exposure that she hopes will launch a lifelong music career, Shalyah Fearing tried something new. She started learning in a traditional classroom at a local public high school. Now 16 and a junior, she takes three classes at River Ridge High School in New Port Richey, Fla. while managing the rest of her course load online. Her family has experienced just about every flavor of school choice — public, private, virtual, home education. So it was fitting that they lent their...

Home schoolers could help chart a path to customized education

"Blended learning." "Customized education." "Student-centered." It's hard to write about what's possible in the future of education without getting stuck in a morass of jargon and buzzwords. William Mattox of the James Madison Institute has produced a new policy brief that paints a clearer picture of what those mind-fogging terms aim to describe. Imagine middle and high schools that look more like college, where students set flexible course schedules. Picture community institutions offering individual courses, and parents working with school administrators to create unique educational paths for each child. Mattox, the director of the Tallahassee think tank's J. Stanley Marshall Center for Educational Options,...

Home education participation flat in Florida, way down in Miami-Dade

After years of steady growth, the number of Florida home schoolers appears to be leveling off. According to the latest annual report, released this month by the Florida Department of Education, the number of students taught at home in the state actually inched downward by several hundred students during the 2015-16 school year, to a total of 83,359. A year earlier, the number of home schoolers saw one of its largest leaps ever. But it's possible this year's downturn is just a statistical blip and not a major shift in the trend lines. While the number of students declined, number of families choosing home education...

School choice and ‘The Voice’

Editor's note: Our friends at the EdFly recently shared a story from Florida that reveals many of the benefits of the new definition of public education. We re-publish it here. Shalyah Fearing will compete in the elimination rounds of "The Voice," which start Monday on NBC. The Tampa Tribune has the latest on her quest. by Kate Wallace When Shalyah Fearing, now 16, drove up to Atlanta from central Florida to try out for the season 9 of hit TV show "The Voice" in February of 2015, she had no idea how she would fare next to the 10,000 hopefuls who stood in line with her. After...

This week in school choice: Saved

An archaic definition of "common schools" posed an existential threat to charter schools in Washington State. The Legislature crafted a bipartisan fix to keep them in operation. Late this week, Gov. Jay Inslee let the measure become law without his signature. For many charter-school parents, Inslee’s announcement came as a relief after months of rallies, letters and phone calls. “It’s been such a difficult climate, because this is an issue that I think has become polarizing,” said Shirline Wilson, whose son attends Rainier Prep in the Highline School District south of Seattle. “I’m just thrilled that our fight is over.” Melissa Pailthorp, the mother of...

Black & homeschooled

The fight for educational freedom has always been part of the black experience in America. A recent rise in black homeschoolers is the latest chapter.

When home schoolers go charter

Teachers who come to work for Belmont Academy in Lake City, Fla. often see one of the school's recruitment fliers, illustrated with five words scratched onto a green chalk face: "I just want to teach!" Michael Cady, the charter school's principal, said that slogan tends to resonate with teachers who have no interest in working as babysitters or disciplinarians. His school, one of North Florida's few rural charters, has little need for those. "I'm going to find teachers who really want to teach," he said. "I feel like we have loaded this school with teachers like this." It's safe to say the culture is a...