I chose Option 1

Option 1 in South Carolina that means you register with the school district as your homeschool accountability.
Most homeschoolers prefer to register with a homeschool association instead. But, I chose Option 1–the school district–for many years.

Option 1 in South Carolina that means you register with the school district as your homeschool accountability. Most homeschoolers prefer to register with a homeschool association instead. But, I chose Option 1–the school district–for many years. Why would I do that?




Why would I do that?

First, let me explain that my husband is a public school teacher. And I was a public school teacher before we had kids. We are both trained educators. But, there’s a divide in our social circles.  He’s the token public school guy among my homeschool circles. I’m the token homeschooler among his public school colleagues. It’s often an awkward pause whenever our secret identities are revealed.  It’s like a conversation fart. Nobody knows what to say after it.

So one time, we were at a dinner party with my husband’s co-workers. His principal was there. I found myself seated next to her husband. In an attempt to make conversation that didn’t reveal my secret about homeschooling. I turned to him and asked, “So what do you do for a living?”

He said he was the homeschool liaison for a nearby local school district. I was intrigued. I let down my guard about homeschooling. Suddenly, I had a lot more questions. I skipped over the usual non-homeschooler questions like “Is that even legal?” and “What about socialization?” He outlined his job description and the sort of assistance available for the Option 1 homeschoolers under his charge. I was impressed. I had no idea that a school district was so accommodating and friendly toward homeschoolers.

He never seemed to pick up on the fact that I was actually homeschooling my kids, though. He said he believed that homeschoolers choose 3rd Option “because they’re hiding something.” Wait. What did he say?

It echoed in my mind: 3rd Option is hiding something. But, I was using 3rd Option. I wasn’t trying to cut corners and hide something. I was more comfortable in 3rd Option, because I didn’t ever feel like I had to justify my methods. But that’s not the same as hiding, is it?

The more I thought about it, the more I took his words as a personal challenge. Having been a teacher before, I understood the documentation that teachers have to do. I wasn’t afraid of letting anyone look at my records. I could justify my methods in “edu-speak.” I decided that I could step out of my secret identity and choose Option 1.

How did that work out?

Now, the district where we are zoned is not homeschool friendly.  Nevertheless, I could rise to the challenge. I could  be like a homeschool ambassador to the public school personnel.

He said he believed that homeschoolers choose 3rd Option “because they’re hiding something.” Wait. What did he say? But, I was using 3rd Option. I wasn’t trying to cut corners and hide something.




The biggest benefit of Option 1 is that is free. There’s no registration fee. I liked that. The application is about seven pages long. I didn’t like that. But, that’s how the system works.

The application is a whole plan about our learning program. I listed books and materials that we planned to use. Including several subjects that were going to be primarily inquiry based with teacher made materials. I included the locations where learning would take place. At the kitchen table, in the living room recliner, in the car and on field trips and wherever the learning takes us! I had to indicate the location of the library we would be utilizing, as well.

I signed off on several agreements. For one, my kids would be taking the annual standardized testing at the school in the Spring. Secondly, if my students scored below basic, they would not qualify for remedial assistance programs. Ok, that felt a little unsettling. But, there was nothing about my right to homeschool getting revoked if we didn’t perform well on this high stakes test.

While we waited for the school board to approve our application, we went ahead and began our lessons. Sometime later in September, we got a letter in the mail that we were “officially” accountable to the district. And it listed the name of the contact person should I need anything.

Mid-year, I got a letter requesting our records in for inspection.  And again at the end of the year we got a similar letter. I dropped off everything at the front desk. I never spoke to the person who looked over my records. I presumed it was that contact person from the letter. But, there was a checklist that came back with it noting evidence of the legal requirements:
1. A plan book or diary
2. A portfolio of samples of student work
3. Evaluation of student’s progress in each basic subject area
4. attendance records.
Sometimes, there was a note that the scope and sequence did not align with the state’s standards. It was always signed. But, not by the contact person who was listed in my official letter.

Then, the kids went to the school for standardized testing. The guidance counselor oversees the testing and arranged for us to go in to meet the teacher and the class where they would be assigned.

The kids’ test scores were mediocre and poor. That’s what happens when you don’t follow the state’s scope and sequence. But, there were no penalties. And school board renewed our application for the next school year. It worked that way just fine for several years. I didn’t get any support or advice, but I didn’t really need anything. I was just jumping thru the accountability hoops.

So, why did I go back to Option 3 Association? 

We had always taken our homeschool decision one year at a time. When my daughter got into high school, I thought that utilizing the school district accountability would make it easier for her homeschool credits to be accepted at the local high school, should she want to transfer there. This is where the trouble began.

Trouble


I was asking for some clarification and assistance in preparing my transcript. I never spoke directly to the contact person on the official letter. Just to his secretary. She took my question–and then called back with the answer. The answers I got were more frustrating than the procedure of inquiry. They would not rank my student with the other high schoolers and they would not assist me in preparing my transcript. I was on my own to figure it out.

Then, came the spring tests. The high school tests worked a bit differently. There were state mandated end of course exams for three of my daughter’s 9th grade courses: English, Algebra 1 and Physical Science. I did not know this when we choose curriculum for the year. Nor was I notified when the school board approved our application. So, at this point in the year, I asked to see the district textbook in order to compare the content against the books we were using. We could try to be prepared for what she would see on the exams.

Nope. I was not allowed. My district contact person was no help about it either. I still could only speak to him back and forth thru messages with his secretary. Bottom line, they told me where I could go buy the books instead. I don’t imagine there are many homeschoolers using this district’s accountability. So, what else does this guy do that he’s not able to take calls and doesn’t do the semi-annual records check? I got no benefits from using Option 1 accountability. And no guarantees that the high school credits from homeschool would be accepted at the high school. She might have to retake the courses if she were to transfer.

So much for the high standards of accountability I thought I was supposed to get in Option 1. It was an illusion. At best, it was just a bunch of meaningless hoops that have nothing to do with the alternative education model of homeschooling. At worst, it became antagonistic toward my homeschooling efforts.

I went back to an Option 3 Accountability Association. I think it’s time for us to be more vocal that we are not hiding anything. We never were. We are all ambassadors of homeschooling.

How does your accountability option communicate with you?  Are they helping you toward your goals?

Check out all the Homeschool Friendly Accountability Associations in South Carolina Accountablity Associations Directory

About Kim Andrysczyk

Homeschool veteran, Association Director, coffee addict, sarcasm expert, and accidental blogger. I'm here to encourage you thru the tough times and inspire you toward excellence. If I can make it, so can you!

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  • Learning In The Home

    Very interesting. I always wondered why anyone who choose option 1. I taught at a private school prior to homeschooling, and I did not like the idea of jumping through the hoops to do things “their way”. I did not want to do school at home. I wanted my kids to learn at home. (That explains a lot of why my blog is called “Learning In The Home”. We really do succeed in that area. ) One of my biggest frustrations is when my high school students start comparing themselves among themselves. “Well, so and so is taking______ this year. Why am I taking_______?” Guess what? You can have a different menu of courses, and still succeed. The goal is to know how to learn. My son is now a Senior Engineering student and doing a fantastic job in college and in life.

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