In the evenings, after the kids are in bed, I like to go online (particularly on Facebook these days, though I’ve favored other sites in years past) and browse. I often try to help out homeschoolers with questions by sharing my knowledge. Tonight I did this as usual. When a homeschool parent asked about how to find evaluators, another woman made a comment that made it sound as though the school district would somehow limit what she could teach her child and that she should immediately switch to the use of an umbrella school (a private school with a homeschooling option) in order to be able to teach however she wanted.
I know that Florida school districts have no say in what home educated students are taught. Parents of home educated students in Florida do not have to turn in their curriculum nor get it approved. Instead, Florida law requires the parent to keep documentation of the educational activities and show proof of educational progress from an evaluation method/evaluator of the parent’s choice. Even when a district asks to review the documentation (which rarely happens unless there’s an outside issue such as a custody battle or a nosy neighbor trying to cause trouble or a previous truancy investigation), the district can only verify that the parent has kept the required documentation. The district does not have the legal right to do an evaluation, so they cannot comment on the appropriateness of the materials chosen or the methods used. They can only comment on whether the parent has kept titles of reading materials, a log of educational activities, and samples of work. If those are kept, then the district is satisfied. The parent chooses their child’s evaluator, so if an evaluator didn’t care for their methods or materials, they could look for another; but the district doesn’t get to make such judgments.
Apparently, I touched a nerve. I know that some Florida homeschool parents mistakenly think that the school district will somehow impact or limit what they teach, that they’ll have to teach in ways that are like the public schools in order to get approval from the school district. Some parents are persuaded to use umbrella schools because of this mistaken notion. While parents may use any method of homeschooling they choose, and can certainly choose to use an umbrella school, I don’t like seeing people choose a particular method because of misinformation. Letting this woman know that she doesn’t have to use an umbrella school in order to teach her child using methods and materials of her choice apparently makes me a troll. Or so I was told.