Public School and Home School: Helping Each Other

By , September 9, 2011

A couple of days ago I introduced a situation we experienced recently, where our relationship with the Haines Borough School District (HBSD) got it into trouble with the Alaska Department of Education (AKDOE).

The Superintendent asked for a copy of the email we sent that formally withdrew Aly from enrollment in the local correspondence school. We sent it along with a scan of Aly’s diploma and her final transcript. I also wrote a long-winded, passionate defense of the HBSD. I’ll summarize here:

I was appalled that AKDOE might consider our decision to home school Aly a “failure” on the part of HBSD. I felt that was a false and unfair assessment of our situation.

As explained in the previous post, we withdrew Aly after AKDOE changed the rules regarding state schools’ relationships to homeschoolers.

Even though we’d dissolved formal ties, HBSD staff and faculty continued to assist Aly’s education and personal growth. The school graciously continued to provide help and encouragement, without which Aly could not have achieved the success she has. Teachers provided essential texts, advice, and information; the school counselor helped her attend standardized tests and ensured that she knew of opportunities. The principal invited her to school dances. The school librarians provided invaluable guidance. We had assumed that withdrawing Aly meant that we would need to do without the support of the HBSD community, but we were proven wrong again and again. The HBSD faculty and staff take education seriously, and do not draw petty distinctions that might keep any student from reaching full potential, whether or not the student officially falls under their responsibility.

Aly has graduated, and has been accepted to the college of her first choice. While she scored well on standardized tests, and we carefully documented her learning, her two years under the supervision of HBSD Correspondence School surely helped. Her tuition will be supplemented by several community scholarships that she learned of through the HBSD counselor. She recently completed two archaeological field schools for college credit. She gained the qualifying experience for these through UAF’s Alaska Summer Research Academy, which she learned of through HBSD staff. While she has created her own success and is pursuing her chosen career, she has done so with the help and encouragement of HBSD. For that, we are most grateful. For that, and to support public education in our community, we were ready to defend our local school district against the State Department of Education.

A couple of days later, we heard back from the Superintendent. I’ll tell you about it next time.

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