The Seat Cost of Educational Decisions

I know, I know you get tired of me talking about homeschooling. However, I had an aha moment the other day when visiting with two other parents about educational choices. One had chosen to put their child in a Montessori school where the child could get the balance of educational vs. social/emotional well being. The other had chosen to put the child in a publicly funded Montessori school. This means that while it had the benefits of the Montessori teaching, ultimately it answered to public school regulations, as such that parent was concerned with the child’s educational development because there was only “so far” the publicly funded Montessori could move the child forward.

This is the crux of the very conversation I have been trying to have people understand about publicly funded education and educational choice. Two things you should try to understand:

A. Every child, no matter how advanced, who attends public school, must be labeled into a particular grade. Unless they are participating in an Advanced Placement (AP) or Gifted Program (or another program of that nature) the normal placement is based on age. For example, some children I know are attending an online public school which allows home school style instruction. These children completed Kinder in 6 months, and then were sent “advanced” materials (which are technically 1st Grade materials) but they were not advanced to first grade. They stayed in Kinder and worked on 1st Grade materials. This is because it is a publicly funded program and needs a particular amount of “seats” per grade and is funded by that “seat” count (think of it like headcount for a department in the workplace). Currently that same family is now labeled as 1st Grade and is almost prepared to finish and receive “advanced 1st Grade materials (basically starting 2nd Grade). However the nice thing about this program is the child works at their own pace an is never held back from new materials as long as they are grasping and applying their education.

B. Every child who receives their education from an institution which is State Funded (thereby making it “public” education; and this applies no matter what the platform semi-private, online, public) has a “seat price”. This “seat price” is paid to the public schools by the State and the US Government (no need to go too deep here). Everytime you remove a child from a publicly funded institution that institution loses that “seat money” and that is why they may make it difficult or cause you to “explain yourself” when you are unenrolling your child.

To the best of my knowledge through my own research (disclaimer: I am not a lawyer)…..There is no law which states you must explain yourself. There are some school districts which ask you to meet with particular school superintendents in the event that you’re going to strictly home school; so that you can layout the child’s educational path.

Please ensure that you are educated about what decisions you are making and what you are and are not required to provide the school. Do not feel bullied into making a decision you don’t feel comfortable with, or allow school officials or others to make you feel uncomfortable. Just remind yourself, whatever educational choice you make for your child; public, private,partial enrollment,  Montessori, semi-private or home school it’s your choice and it’s your tax dollars, but bottom line it’s your child’s future that matters – not “seat money”.

***Disclaimer: I am not a lawyer, these are my opinions and information I have gathered based on my own research in our home school journey and apply strictly to WA State. Please ensure you do your own research in your area on laws and regulations regarding public school and homeschooling.

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