Home schooling

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...

Home, sweet school

Jeanne is a young but retired teacher of reading and writing in public schools; she has a working husband, boys, 4 and 7, and a girl, 10. The older two kids are enrolled in the school where Jeanne taught. She does not admire the school, and has been imagining a happier and more effective alternative for her children. Next door to Jeanne and family is an older widower, John, who has, for twenty years, taught Spanish to neighborhood kids in after-school sessions at his own house. Liz lives down the block. She used to teach math in a private school and...

From sit-ins to school choice

This is the third post in our series on the Voucher Left. Marcus Brandon’s resume starts off like a progressive’s dream. National finance director, Dennis Kucinich for president. Staffer, Progressive Majority. Deputy director, Equality Virginia. But once it rolls into Brandon’s education accomplishments, some fellow progressives get whiplash. During two terms in the North Carolina House of Representatives, Brandon was a leading force behind bills that created vouchers for disabled and low-income students, and removed the state’s cap on charter schools. Inconsistency? Not for Brandon, a rising political star whose family’s civil rights bona fides are unquestioned. “I tell people that my...

This week in school choice: Behind the headlines

With much respect to Education Next... Mike Thomas contemplates the virtues of home schooling. We've looked at what motivates attempts to regulate is. KUNR starts diving deep on Nevada's education savings accounts. We've spoken with Seth Rau of Nevada Succeeds about the program's challenges and potential. The L.A. Times introduces Shavar Jeffries, the new leader of Democrats for Education Reform. We're beginning an in-depth exploration of the history of school choice support on the political left. The Atlantic explores the factors driving enrollment declines at private and parochial schools. We've covered the role of charter school competition, and the ways Catholic schools are transforming themselves to reverse...

Home school advocates and the fight for parental autonomy

A recent article published by ProPublica and Slate scrutinizes, among other things, the role of the Home School Legal Defense Association in pushing back against attempts to place new regulations on home education. Early on, the piece highlights one such battle where the association was successful, as it often is, at defeating such an attempt: After the story of the emaciated boys appeared in national newspapers, New Jersey Senate Majority Leader Loretta Weinberg was moved to introduce new legislation. “My question was, how does someone fall off the face of the earth so that no one knows they exist? I was told...

How school choice in Florida varies by district

Students in many parts of Florida begin a new school year today, while others have already started. If recent trends continue, nearly four in five of them are headed to public schools operated by their local district, though growing numbers will attend private or charter schools, and others will be taught at home by their parents. While the growth of new education options has gotten attention on this blog and elsewhere, they have spread unevenly across the state. Nearly a third of Florida's 67 school districts, most of them rural, have no charters whatsoever, while two reported no students attending private schools last year. The maps below break down how enrollment in district,...