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    Why We Don’t Charter School {Part II}

    October 21, 2007 by Brandy Vencel

    I spent part of the morning talking with a good friend of mine about this series. She charter schools, and we don’t. But we are still friends. Do you see where I am going with this?

    Anyhow, one of the things I appreciate about this friend is her honesty. In this world where major factions are often offended and demanding apologies from whoever it was who offended them, it is rare to find a person to think things through with. If you have a friend like mine, send her a thank you card.

    We thought things through a bit in our conversation, and now I would like to clarify a few things from the Introduction before moving on.

    In no particular order, I will deal with a direct quote of myself and then explain or elaborate or offer a lame excuse or whatnot:

    • We here often choose the hard road because the easy road conflicts with our conscience. I am not, incidentally, saying that you must have a hardened, evil heart if you don’t see things our way. I simply want to explain that, to us, the charter school would be the easy road. And we just can’t take it.

      “To us” was emphasis I added this time around. I don’t want to go too deep into why it would be an “easy road” for our family because that is something I plan to talk about in a future post. However, my friend explained that, for her, a charter school is the harder road. I actually have a few friends who feel this way. These are my flexible friends, and the charter school gives them accountability, helps them stay organized, and, in essence, pushes them to do a lot more school than they would if left to their own devices.

      All of that to say that there is more than one perspective on these things, and I want to recognize this. For me, a charter school would be easier because it would ease our finances. For others, it is a harder road because it pushes them to take education more seriously and work harder at it.

    • If you are “homeschooling” through a charter school, you are not homeschooling in the legal sense. Your child is a public school student. There are legal reasons why this is important. If I could ask charter school parents to do one thing, it would be to say that they “charter school” rather than that they “homeschool.” The reason for this is that we never want to reach a situation where a loss of freedom at the charter school is perceived to apply to those of us wishing to remain independent from the public schools.

      This can get touchy. There are two words wrapped up in this issue. First, there is the verb, which is the act of homeschooling. When a charter school mom pulls out her books and sits down with her child to go over the day’s lessons, I think she can rightly be said to be homeschooling.

      I was meaning to refer to homeschool in the legal sense (though technically that’s not fair here in California where students can only legally be a private or public school student).

      There have been instances in which the term “homeschool” has become a blanket term. What we don’t want to see is the term “homeschool” used flippantly in a court of law. We want the legal term “homeschool” to be as separate as possible from the legal term charter school.

      The best example I can give is this: let’s say that your neighborhood charter school commanded all of their parents to teach something that you found to be in conflict with your religion. Now imagine how nice it is that, instead of going to jail for noncompliance with state law, you can simply leave the charter school and homeschool at home under a separate set of laws. If the laws governing public schools become jumbled up with the term homeschooler {which really means charter schooler} it can make it more difficult to keep homeschooling safe from a lot of red tape and immoral requirements.

      All of this to say that my concern about terminology is from a legal point of view, and not intended to pass judgment on charter schooling families that literally teach their children at home.

    Okay. I am running out of steam here, so I will close for today. However, I think I will end with a quote from Spunky, who first challenged our family’s thoughts on this issue at least a year ago:

    It is important that the definition of homeschooling be determined by who the student is ultimately accountable.


    A distinction is necessary to ensure that the freedom to homeschool is not lost through increased regulation. If we combine the two groups then when the state seeks to increase regulation or make changes to the “schooling at home” crowd the “homeschooling” crowd could be affected by the changes and potentially lose some of the authority to direct the education of their children.

    Part I
    You’re reading Part II
    Part III
    Part IV
    Part V
    Ending Note

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  • Reply Brandy October 23, 2007 at 8:57 pm


    Good point! You are right, so much so that I will repeat it in my own words so that I remember it: the fact that something is difficult doesn’t necessarily make it better than another option.

    Actually, I was thinking that there are a number of ways that homeschooling is easier than institutionalized schooling. I think it has its own benefits, and yet the fact that it has benefits isn’t what makes it better or worse than institutional education.

    As for clarifying myself: yes. We often choose the hard road in spite of its difficulties, not because of them.

  • Reply Kristie October 22, 2007 at 11:52 pm

    It sounds to me like you and your friend have both made good decisions. One thought I have is that we should consider whether or not the difficulty of something constitutes its virtue. In other words, would it be wrong to homeschool / charter school if one found it “the easy road?” It may be helpful to clarify whether you choose a particular method because it is difficult or in spite of it being difficult.

    I’m gonna guess that your future posts (or archived ones?) will (or have) explain some of the redeeming features of homeschooling that make it a good choice despite the difficulties.

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