Two Concepts and Two Perspectives:
School at Home vs Homeschooling
When we read school board and MELS documents pertaining to homeschooling, an important element often stands out, and clearly shows that homeschooled children are definitely perceived to be part of the school system. Admittedly, the law does confer upon the school board the right to examine, by some sort of evaluation, the instruction and educational experience provided for homeschooled children; however, there is a world of difference between, on the one hand, instruction directed by parents and, on the other, school… at home. How do they differ essentially?
School at home is instruction provided in the home, and not at school, but supervision and governmental control are ensured by school authorities which, here in Québec, are the school boards. The curriculum, control of instruction and educational experience provided by some sort of monitoring, evaluation methods and recognition of learning, are thus determined by the government. In this context, children taught at home are but an extension of the school system, and school authorities are
justified in considering them as such.
Homeschooling is instruction provided at home under the supervision and control of the parents.
In this situation, families choose their own curriculum and the way in which they will manage it for their particular situation. In this case, where a law is in effect, the control exercised by the school authorities should be implemented in the least restrictive way for families. In Québec, because of Article 15(4) of the Education Act, one evaluation at the end of the school year is sufficient to satisfy the requirements of the law. Parent-educators should also have different options for the evaluation of their children, including providing an evaluation themselves, according to different methods. (If you have any questions about this, don’t hesitate to contact HSLDA or ACPEQ.) In the situation described briefly in this paragraph, homeschooled children should not be considered to be a part of the school system, until the day they integrate it.
If parent-educators prefer having their child evaluated by the school board, this is definitely their choice. However, it is far preferable to provide an evaluation ourselves, in order to hold on to the greatest latitude possible for our children’s education and to protect our freedom. Even if the school administrators
whom you are dealing with are very kind, and the arrangements do not seem too restrictive for now, nothing guarantees that this will always be the case, as some parents who had a “great arrangement” with their school boards have already shared with us. It is in our best interests as parent-educators to keep a respectful distance from school
boards with regards to any services offered (monitoring, evaluations, etc.), in order not to compromise our freedoms, and to avoid finding ourselves eventually under the obligation to do school… at home. Furthermore, the funding received by school boards for homeschooled children will justify their following up on them (monitoring, evaluations, etc.). According to the information we have, the amount granted to school boards last June, for each homeschooled child, is about $750 per year; if we divide this by an hourly rate of about $50, we come to 15 hours of educational services per child.
Those who wanted to have their homeschool experience monitored will be thrilled, but this will not happen without consequences on our freedoms, on a more or less long-term basis. This funding provided to school boards will risk significantly increasing the number of interventions for each homeschooled child and, consequently, the number of interactions between families and school boards. Families who have chosen to homeschool may end up doing school… at home. However, if the school boards do not spend this money and are asked for some accountability, the government will not be able to justify the funding for too long. In conclusion, if parents-educators want to maintain their freedom, it is in their best interests to be ready to refuse any services (monitoring, evaluations, etc.) that could be offered by school boards, and to act accordingly.