We recently discussed standardized testing in the public school system and whether or not it is a hindrance or blessing. After reading through all the comments, it appears that most of you believe it is ultimately harming the public schools as a whole. This lead me to start thinking about schooling options.
Most people feel as though they have no options when it comes to selecting schooling for their children. They feel they must remain in their failing school district and supplement education at home when time is available. Fortunately, for many families, there are other options that are sometimes overlooked because of fear of financial constraints or other lack of knowledge about special programs.
Here are just a few alternatives to traditional public school. I will be defining “traditional public school” as the common practice of sending your child to the physical public school district determined by your residence.
Depending on your school district, you may be able to apply for a transfer to another school district nearby. If you are dissatisfied with your public school district and have tried talking to school administration, parent-teacher associations, and teachers with no avail, transferring out of the school district may be your first option.
You would first need to look at nearby school districts and determine if any nearby schools are accepting transfers. You can simply call the school administrator of the school you wish to transfer your child and request information on transferring districts. They will be able to inform you if they are accepting students, or if there is a waiting list that you can add your name to.
Once you find a district accepting transfers and with openings, the transfer can be as simple as filling out a request to transfer and turning it into the accepting school. The school will then contact administration at the existing district to receive approval to transfer the student out. Most districts will allow students ease of transferring out, as they do not want unhappy parents. The hardest part will be finding a district that is accepting transfers in.
Virtual Public School
One of the newest options in public schooling is virtual online charter academies. This is a concept that I initially had a hard time grasping. How can a child be public schooled at home? However, after lots of research and meetings, I have found this option an incredibly interesting one. Virtual charter schools are run by public schools. The students will receive class materials such as textbooks, science supplies, DVDs, workbooks, and whiteboards sent direct to their home. They will also assign the student a teacher. The student will do all work from home supervised by their parent.
So how is this different than homeschooling? Virtual public school is NOT homeschooling. Ultimately, the public school district is still responsible for the student’s success. They are graded like any other school. Students still must take standardized tests and meet state attendance policies. The parent is responsible for helping the teacher achieve success with their child. The parent works in tandem with the virtual educator. The teacher makes up the lesson plans for the student and will help determine if a student moves on to the next grade level.
If you have the ability to stay at home with your children, but aren’t wanting to come up with the lesson plans, this may be a good option for you. You will have support from the virtual educator and materials provided, but will also have the hands-on ability to shape your child’s education.
Private schools are the obvious answer to public schooling issues. However, it can be costly. Private schools are not mandated by the state and can follow a number of different educating curriculum. Many private schools can cater to a number of different learning styles to fit what the parent is looking for in educating their child.
The main issue comes down to funding. Education via private school is not cheap. It can place a large financial burden on a family with no help. However, some states have voucher programs that can help cover the cost of private schooling for your child. Requirements could include special needs children or income guidelines. If your state offers vouchers it is worth looking into to help cover these education expenses.
If you do not have the ability to utilize vouchers you can look to the private school for private grants. You will be incredibly surprised at how many students attending private school are on private grants. Depending on income, you may be able to qualify to have 10-100% of your private school covered with this option.
If you have the time, homeschooling is the ultimate answer to taking your child’s education into your own hands. You do need to understand that this will come at the cost of a regular time commitment and you must have the ability to teach your child. You will also need the resources to do so. Fortunately, there are a number of homeschooling resources through local homeschooling groups and online forums. If you need help in this area, it is definitely available. If you are lucky, you may even find a homeschooling co-op in your area.
Even if your child leaves the traditional public school system, I still urge you to communicate with your public school administrators, teachers, school boards, and other parents regarding any issues you have with the state of your public school. Removing your child from the problem, unfortunately, does not fix the problem as a whole. Help your fellow families out, and talk to your state officials about your issues and help bring change to the system as a whole.