I just put together an application for a new teaching position in the public school district’s new Family Partnership program, working with homeschoolers for the public school district. I called myself “uniquely suited” to the role, been, having taught public school and been part of the local homeschooling community for a dozen years. Said I had a “good understanding of the reasons families choose home-based instruction for their children, the desire some families have to receive educational support from public school districts, and the ways in which this support can be worked out to fit homeschool families’ needs.” Which I realize, now that I have to distill it for my cover letter, is all true.
I didn’t mention that I come from a perspective that schools should be careful not to usurp parents’ authority in managing their children’s education, and be careful of conflicts of interest such as using public school-homeschool partnerships as a way to raise funds for the district. I’m aware of the drift of such programs toward more control over homeschoolers’ decisions about education, and so I understand the suspicion some home-based educators have toward district offers to “serve” them. Knowing there’s money that changes hands, and where there’s money, there’s control. Also called accountability–I’m not saying that shouldn’t be a part of it.
By the way, one of the reasons that this program is being launched is that four hundred of this district’s families had joined similar programs in other districts, even in some cases out of state. So it’s bringing the business home where it belongs, if anywhere. Behind the scenes of the happy, open, literature-rich multi-age classrooms, FTE student numbers have to be calculated, and since it takes money to use the building and pay the staff, the more FTE’s the better. But I’m guessing that the family members that come in to work with and support their own children in the district space won’t receive any of the FTE educator pay. Even if it could be seen as fair, there’d no doubt be a run on the money as there was in a nearby program, and we can’t have that. The other program has since severely curtailed the homeschool resources and programs it will pay for–at first they not only funded (secular only) curriculum but even private piano lessons, home science lab equipment, ski lessons, and more. Now they only pay for equivalents of what the district provides for public school children.
The building chosen to house this partnership is extremely conveniently located as a work place for me, though not for most of the district’s homeschoolers, who tend to live more at the edges of the city where a single parent’s income can cover housing prices. But the building was vacant, the elementary school it housed having been closed, and the former principal is now in charge of the Partnership. It certainly is a great location for overworked moms who want to drop off kids for a while and get a much needed break alone or with fellow homeschoolers. This part of town has the highest ratio of restaurants per resident.
So I hope I at least get a call about the position–no idea how many others will apply, and with what levels of experience, or what the hours would be during this “soft opening” while they figure things out. I’m guessing that since there aren’t many district jobs to be had yet this season, there will be a good number of fresh young faces applying. Though I’m hoping they are more seasoned than the ones that worked at the other district’s homeschool support site, and that they require less paperwork of the families.
Meanwhile I’m thinking of all the things that could come out of this, what I could do as a teacher/homeschool family support person. There are tidal flats a few blocks away for marine biology explorations, good local trails for P.E. and nature study, a nearby middle school that gets their student involved with kids in younger grades through their “service learning” program, lots of possibilities, depending on the areas parents want support or teaching in. And lots of space with tables, learning supplies, and maybe even a janitor.
Homeschool families also tend to want help in math, and science, which are my forte. I’d also like to encourage new homeschool parents in what they’re doing, help them find good resources specifically for homeshooling, help them develop their confidence and learn about the possibilities for a home-based education. So they don’t end up needing much district support as they go further on their journey.
A few years into homeschooling my own four children, I was asked to mentor newer homeschool families in their journey. I didn’t sign up because I felt I really was not any kind of expert and was still figuring so many things out and making so many wrong turns. But in applying for this position, I’m partly comparing myself with the other applicants who don’t even know what they don’t know. At least I have an edge there.