I am writing about the Dec. 6th article regarding home-schooling parents speaking out about letters sent inviting them to enroll their children in a charter school started by the Bartow County School System.
These parents are upset that the school system used enrollment and attendance records in a way that violates state law. The law states "Enrollment records and reports shall not be used for any purpose except providing necessary enrollment information, except with the permission of the parent or guardian of a child, pursuant to the subpoena of a court of competent jurisdiction, or for verification of attendance by the Department of Public Safety. O.C.G.A. § 20-2-690 (c)(2)" Compiling a targeted list of teenage home-schooled students and sending their parents a letter inviting them to enroll their children in this academy is contrary to state law.
In recent articles, Dr. Harper is quoted as saying, "I believe there are parents out there who would like ....us to provide a curriculum for them," indicating that parents of home-schoolers need his help. I believe this attitude towards home educators arises from a misunderstanding of the home-school community. There is a belief in some education circles that educating should only be done by "experts," parents are misguided who try this at home, and that these misguided folks need to be brought into the system to let the "experts" handle the job. What is ironic about this attitude is that all of us have at least a high school diploma that says we learned everything our schools had to teach us, and yet many believe we learned these subjects too poorly to impart this information to our own children.
Most of us know what subjects we or our children struggle with, but the materials and programs available to parents who want assistance are numerous. In addition, were we interested in enrolling in a program for high school "at no cost to us," the local high schools or the Georgia Cyber Academy are already available.
Our home-school community is diverse in talents and willing to help struggling learners through co-op classes, tutoring, or by recommending and lending materials to each other. Among home-school parents in this area are several nurses, teachers, physicians, a physical therapist, an accountant, an interior designer, a chemist, an engineer, a lawyer, a dentist, several small business owners, 2 state level legislators, a congressman, a farmer, an airline pilot, several pastors, and a financial advisor. I cannot think of a high school subject that at least one home-school parent among us would not be able to teach if one of us needed outside help.
Dr. Harper stated, "My role as superintendent of Bartow County is to try and educate the kids of Bartow County, regardless of what the needs are." I disagree. He is the superintendent of the county school system, and as such is only responsible for the 13,500 or so students enrolled in the Bartow County School System. Instead of attempting to bring those into the system who prefer private or home education, Dr. Harper and the board should focus on adequately educating the students already enrolled. Our home school community will let the school system know when and if we need assistance.
Melissa Huneke, former elementary teacher and home-schooling mother of three