Learning something new…, by Kami - MetroFamily Magazine
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Learning something new…, by Kami

by Kami McManus

Reading Time: 4 minutes 

Once we made our decision, we were very excited about it. My son and I gladly shared our excitement with anyone willing to listen! We called family members and friends that we had discussed homeschooling with as we had done our research that had gotten us to this point. We were invited to OKVA events, where we got to meet other OKVA families, see the curriculum, meet the OKVA & K12 staff and teachers, and ask any other questions we may have thought of since our first phone call with OKVA.

As we finished out the last of our son’s 4th grade year in B&M school, we did run into people who were not happy with our choice and they were extremely vocal about it. Some of them were so rude and mean about it, that for a little while I almost second guessed my choice. This was very scary and eye-opening for me because in all the years that I have met home schooling families, they had always been so kind, supportive and seemed very open-minded to alternative education. They supported each other because for a very long time people looked down on them, judged them, and not all communities were open to the idea of home schooling. I will say, not all families are like this.  It just took me by surprise to run into so many in such a short amount of time.

I was having a very hard time understanding why my choice of curriculum had upset so many people. For us and so many others it was a win-win situation. The problem was the more questions I asked, the more hostile people got. I couldn’t get a straight answer on why some of the local homeschool groups and families were so against programs like the one we choose. Then I got on Facebook and discovered support groups for K12 families all over the US and then smaller ones that were more local to my area and even specific to OKVA and its new counter-part Oklahoma Virtual Charter Academy (OVCA). So I asked my questions there and learned something new.

There is a “legal” difference between traditional “homeschoolers” and “schooling at home” (aka home educated). People who buy a curriculum, make their own curriculum and teach it at home are “home schoolers” and those of us who choose to be associated with a school or school district are “home educated”.

For the purposes of everyday life, this would seem like a minor technicality to most of us, but to many there is cause for legitimate concern. I don’t claim to completely understand it all, but the basic reason is that since companies like K12 are contracted with the school districts, it means they are subject to most of the same rules. Students have to meet many of the same guidelines as regular public school students do. Rules/requirements set forth by the state.

In other words, set forth by the GOVERNMENT. One aspect that I failed to see about homeschooling (I knew it but did not think about it in this specific context) is there is no one setting rules or standards for these students. Sure most of their parents try to meet all the basics that will be needed for life, college and so on. But there is NO government interference. OKVA and other programs like it are being paid to educate kids at home. Since they are now receiving the funds from the government that your old school district use to receive for your child (assuming your child went to public school), they are subject to pretty much all the same rules as public schools are. So to ‘traditional” home schoolers, we are not home schoolers because we let “Big Brother” dictate our education and their fear (in a nutshell) is that if these programs become popular (and prove successful) that state and eventually federal government will try to make it the REQUIRED way to “educate at home”.

Ironically, if I was to straight out just buy the curriculum that K12 offers (and this is an option) and pay for it myself, then I am considered a “traditional home schooler”. In fact, as a private citizen if I could afford it, I could buy the EXACT same program I am using via OKVA. Online support, a teacher for help, and everything I received from OKVA and the only noticeable differences would be that I paid for it, not the government and that I would not have government set rules on how many hours per day I should spend or required progress goals.

I am sure there are more “legal” differences that everyday people, like me, would not see because we am not involved with K12’s administration but for those of us using a K12 program, those would be the main differences. I only know that because I chatted with a very nice lady who is a “traditional” home schooler but bought the K12 curriculum and she told me she could pay extra to have the one-on-one teacher support that we do.

There are some major lobbying groups that work to make sure that home schooling in its traditional form, remains a legal choice. I support that 100%. We all deserve the right to choose what is best for our children and their education. This was our choice. I have run into some walls when looking for home school groups, clubs, co-ops and events. But for every person I meet that is against my choice I meet a few that are not. They remain open-minded and understand that every family has certain needs to be met.

I have learned many other new things since we began this adventure. The next step for us was ……dum dum dum dum….paperwork!

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