54. Maintain the Distinction Between Homeschooling and Public Virtual Charter Schools (5/14)

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Whereas the pioneers of the modern homeschooling movement in Wisconsin worked together despite their differences to ensure that the Wisconsin Legislature passed a reasonable homeschooling law that recognized the right of families to choose for their members an education consistent with their principles and beliefs; and

Whereas homeschoolers have organized themselves as Wisconsin Parents Association (WPA) to watch and protect their parental rights in education, especially homeschooling rights and responsibilities; and

Whereas we cannot assume that freedoms and laws will continue in perpetuity once they are established and recognized, instead they must be continually safeguarded; and

Whereas it is easy for people to be lulled into assuming that their freedoms will continue without any action or effort on their part; and

Whereas maintaining an accurate understanding of how we came to have the homeschooling freedoms we have is essential to informing succeeding generations about the principles and practices essential to their continuance; and

Whereas homeschoolers are a small minority and are opposed by powerful political interest groups and organizations; and

Whereas the distinction between homeschools and public virtual charter schools is essential to the preservation of homeschoolers’ freedom to choose an education consistent with their principles and beliefs since public schools require state standards and testing that determine the curriculum and values and beliefs of students attending public schools even if such schools are located in students’ homes; and

Whereas public virtual charter schools displace the role and authority of parents and families; and

Whereas the distinction between public schools and homeschools is being blurred through the initiatives of public schools to bring homeschoolers into the public schools, especially into public virtual charter schools; and

Whereas persons who choose public virtual charter schools often refer to themselves as homeschoolers and see the public virtual charter school they are enrolled in as a homeschool; and

Whereas many legislators, people in the media, and members of the general public seem not to understand why homeschooling needs to be or should be free of state standards, state curriculum, and state testing; and

Whereas several large homeschool support groups have struggled with whether to include public virtual charter school families in their homeschool support groups; and

Whereas when groups that identify themselves as homeschool groups include public school families in their groups for reasons such as that the public school family shares the same religious or philosophical beliefs or that the family was a member of the group when they homeschooled before or that doing so seems not to be any threat to the freedom to homeschool their children, the group may not have considered the following consequences:

(a) the group is unlikely to be able to have a consistent attitude or position regarding basic homeschooling freedoms such as the family taking direct responsibility for the education of their children or the family being free of state standards and/or the principles and beliefs of the public schools as expressed in the tests that the state mandates that public virtual charter schools must take;

(b) the group will be saying to itself, to homeschoolers, to the larger community including the media, and to legislators that homeschooling can include the practices of having public school officials and certified teachers making decisions about what curriculum a homeschooling family may use, what tests it must take, and whether parents are qualified to educate their children; and

(c) the group being unable to take direct action to stand up for the basic homeschooling freedoms we currently have largely because the group is split on the key issues of what the homeschooling freedoms in Wisconsin are and their importance to a family’s ability to practice their principles and beliefs through homeschooling and because the group did not educate their members on the importance of these key homeschooling freedoms because the group consisted of families who did not share or practice those principles and beliefs; and

Whereas other states in this country that relied on the courts or outside experts to insure homeschooling freedoms have consistently lost basic freedoms in the courts and legislatures; and

Whereas homeschooling freedoms in Wisconsin were won and have been maintained through grassroots work that in turn is highly dependent on homeschool support groups knowing and practicing the rights and responsibilities homeschoolers have under the current homeschooling law;

Be it resolved by members of Wisconsin Parents Association (WPA) that WPA will work to insure that the basic right to choose an education consistent with one’s principles and beliefs is maintained for homeschoolers by informing homeschoolers including homeschool support groups that homeschooling freedoms in Wisconsin are threatened when homeschooling is viewed to include public school principles and practices and when the distinction between homeschools and public virtual charter schools is not maintained. 5/2014

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