September 26th, 2022
Public school officials look to blame homeschooling for enrollment decline.
EdSource published an article on July 24, 2022, titled: Enrollment decline: LAUSD’s Carvalho says families leaving the state or choosing to home-school. The subtitle of the piece elaborated: A lag in parents filing home-schooling paperwork is adding to enrollment woes, experts say.
There is no arguing the fact that California public schools are facing a precipitous decline in enrollment; many articles have been written lately documenting this fact. Should articles with headlines like these be of any importance or concern to the homeschool community? The answer is a resounding, “Yes!”
This article must be viewed as a legitimate threat to private home education when considering how the education establishment thinks. The CTA (California Teachers Association), and organizations like it, are determined to protect what they consider to be their money. They are fiercely protective of both their institutions and their funding.
The Grass is Always Greener
Long-time homeschoolers cherish the freedoms they enjoy in California under the private school exemption. Over the last couple of years, many families have exited the public-school system and are now thriving with these freedoms as well. Parents have seen the grass is indeed greener in the private realm, giving them the opportunity to provide their children with an excellent education in accordance with their personal beliefs.
The public-school apparatus does not take the departure of these families— with their ADA (Average Daily Attendance) funds—lightly. Instead of fertilizing, weeding, and doing the hard work of making schools an enticing experience for students, they would much rather burn down the grass on the private school side of the fence. One strategy they may use to do this is to introduce regulations for home education that would cause it to be a less attractive option.
We must be vigilant when the homeschool community is blamed for the troubles of the public-school system, and knowledgeable enough to spot the errors in this line of thinking. As described in the EdSource article, Alberto Carvalho points the finger at homeschool families and their non-compliance with paperwork for much of the explanation of this exodus. Carvalho is the newly hired (February 2022) superintendent of the Los Angeles Unified School District (second largest in the country, behind only New York City). Due to the vastness and influence of the district he oversees, his comments carry weight—even though they are incorrect.
Fact Check: Private School Affidavits Are Not Filed with Public School Officials
“Perhaps the biggest problem in figuring out the decline student by student is the lag in parents letting the district officially know they have decided to home-school their children by filing an affidavit with school officials. ‘Parents are taking their time to file the documents,’ [Carvalho] said.”
Respectfully, Carvalho’s comments are not correct. Parents do not file an affidavit with their local, public school officials. Affidavits are filed with the California Department of Education, which is a state agency. Ideally, the only communication new homeschooling parents should have with their children’s former public school is a written notice of withdrawal notifying them of the child’s enrollment in a private school, followed by a request for the student’s cumulative records. Current California law is clear about legal options for education, with the public and private realms of education separate from each other.
Carvalho also claims that parents are “lagging” in filing the affidavit, however, the affidavit form for the 2022-2023 school year will not be released until around Oct 1, 2022 (as is the case every school year).
Parents Are Simply Not Choosing Public School
To the dismay of the public-school elites, parents are taking control of their children’s education! Throughout our government, resistance remains to the idea that parents know what is best for their children. COVID-19 closed the doors of brick and mortar schools nationwide and opened the doors of opportunity for parents, giving them occasion to see what their children were actually being taught. In many cases, they were motivated to seek alternatives.
As parents are striving to find the best possible educational opportunities for their children, they are looking to homeschooling as a solid option. While parents are clearly looking out for the best interests of their children, the public schools (with their funding based on Average Daily Attendance) are driven to retain as many students as possible. LAUSD has even rolled out a program called iAttend where they go door to door looking for chronically absent kids.
So What Can We Do?
As Christians we are to be in the world, but not of it (John 15:19). We are also to be as wise as serpents and as innocent as doves (Matthew 10:16). You must be grounded in the truth to recognize error. You also need to develop political savvy so you can recognize how authorities seek to promote their agendas at the expense of private home education.
When you see articles like this, read them with a discerning eye and an awareness that they threaten homeschool freedom. Carvalho’s comments are a veiled, or not so veiled, shot across the bow of homeschoolers. We do not need more regulation and we do not want any needless attention drawn to our community. Homeschooling with a private school affidavit is a 100% legal alternative to public education, as legitimate an option as enrolling your child in a public school. And it works! While public school test scores are plummeting, homeschooled students are excelling (fpmca.org/research2022).
When you see articles like this, consider writing an informed letter to the editor in response. Also, be faithful to pray for your leaders at the local, state, and federal level. Be mindful that skirmishes over education are part of a larger battle regarding parental rights. Be confident that as we look to the Lord Jesus as the ultimate authority over our homes and children, He will be faithful to care for His own.