InÂ New York, a school board that has decided not to let a homeschooled girl participate in a school play.Â I find this difficult to write about because there is a thicket of expectations to chop through concerning public school and access by the public.
- Syracuse.com, The Post-Standard, Syracuse, NY, 10 Oct 2005, No room for the home-schooled
Board member Bruce G. Hatfield said he opposed changing the policy at all. "It’s a parent’s choice to home-school, and that decision results in pros and cons they have to live with," he said.
The aspect I’ll touch on first is fiscal, although this aspect is not mentioned in the article.Â Â Parents of homeschooled children pay taxes, and many of them would like to recoup some of the value of the money contributed by having their children participate in school activities.Â Apparently it seems wasteful to them to pay ‘twice’ for education.Â Public school = public participation.
Where I disagree with that position is from my own pocketbook.Â My husband and I alsoÂ pay the taxes that support the local schools, but my children are grown and we don’t use the local schools.Â In fact, we owned theÂ house we’re now living in while we lived overseas so my kids weren’t even able to use the local schools. Before we owned this house, my parents owned it, and while they lived here, they, too, had no children in the local public school system.Â For the 20+ years this house has generated local taxes, no childrenÂ from it have attended local schools. Â The teacher across the street has never been married, yet she, too, pays local school taxes.Â Her next-door neighbor is divorced and shares the custody of his daughter with his ex-wife, so that family pays twice into the school system.Â The lady on the other side of the schoolteacher is widowed, and she pays taxes.Â The examples just from my street continue, but I won’t.
So when doÂ all of usÂ getÂ a return on our tax contribution?Â I assume the answer is that we get our return through the education of the next generation which will keep the country, the state, and the town roughly in the conditions in which the ‘next generation’Â inherited them.
AnotherÂ part of the question ofÂ free rangeÂ children participating in public schoolÂ programsÂ is availability of activities within the community.Â I’ve touched on that part of the discussion inÂ earlier posts.Â
Many community’s activities for children are tied up with schools, more so at the secondary level than at the elementary and junior high levels.Â In general, public school students participate in public school activities, private school students participate in the activities at their schools.Â This arrangementÂ seems logical, especially when all children "attend school" (which isn’tÂ always the case internationally).Â But when some of the children in a communityÂ grow upÂ to the beatÂ of a different drummer,Â where do they go forÂ associations and groups if they aren’t enrolled in a school, especially if the localÂ homeschooling community doesn’tÂ have the critical mass to develop and maintain alternative activities for the children?
The answer (if there is one, given the social model in use) is probably tied to the cultural question of ‘who owns the public schools.’Â This isÂ a question that probably led to some parents choosing to homeschool their children in the first place because the needs of their children weren’t being met.Â
The thorny question of which people in a communityÂ decideÂ that community’s educationalÂ standards was addressed by Stephen Arons in his 1983 book, Compelling Belief.Â Not only is there a thicket of expectations concerning the ‘ownership’ of public schools, but they’ve got long, deep roots.