School choice applies to all of us, and homeschoolers can help lead the way.
If you are reading this, you’re probably a homeschooler. Regardless of how you came to homeschooling, the fact that you are here shows you have exercised your right to choose what you think is best for your child’s education. But what would you do if you couldn’t?
While we work our “tails” off to homeschool our kids, we are lucky to be able to do so. There are many, many people who wish they could homeschool their kids, but due to circumstances beyond their control, they cannot. An even larger number of people wish they could choose which public school their child goes to, and even more parents have a desire to send their children to private school, but again, cannot.
We have already exercised our right to School Choice. Do we, as people who enjoy this privilege have an obligation to help those whose children are trapped in an educational situation they can not change? I believe we do. If my children were unsafe, undereducated, underserved, and I couldn’t change our situation on my own, I would want help. And I want to help from my vantage point too. I believe we can all help.
Many parents do not know that they don’t have a choice until they try to make one. Many parents don’t know how powerless they are until they try to get services for their kids. Many parents don’t know how lucky they are until they hear a truancy officer knock on their door. These are OUR children, and we as their parents have the right to make the educational decisions we think are best for them. But when children are viewed as units that have tax dollars attached to them, seen as liabilities who need extra services – expensive ones, or simply are on a different educational path, we are forcibly shown how little choice and power we truly have.
Unless we stand together.
One NH father in Amherst is fighting now to have his son’s IEP taken seriously by SAU39. His autistic son is not getting the services he is entitled to. This father is still fighting for his son’s education and services despite having been sent cease and desist letters from the SAU.
Another mom had to bring her fight to the state Board of Education when the local school board in Litchfield, NH refused to let her honor student daughter continue at Pinkerton Academy in Derry, NH after her father’s death. The state overturned the Litchfield school board’s decision, but this is a very rare occurrence. The reaction is fear and disapproval from certain school districts who fear an exodus of students and the accompanying state funding.
Our children are not viewed as individuals with unique educational needs, they are viewed as monetary assets and liabilities and a parent’s right to choose is an obstacle rather than an honor to strive for.
We, as homeschool parents, can help protect the future of homeschooling by advocating for School Choice. We are a formidable force in NH, we proved that with our presence at the Statehouse when we rallied against HB 1263. School Choice is under fire from school boards, teacher’s unions, and superintendent’s associations. But if we homeschoolers band together with parents and students from public, private, parochial, charter, and other schools to have a unified voice for School Choice, we can make a difference. We can work hard now to lighten the burden for future generations.
By Kitty Michelotti