Free at last!

A feeling of liberation swept through my life as I electronically filed the California Department of Education’s Private School Affidavit. This online form tells the state that I am now taking complete charge and responsibility of my child’s education. It was a shift from my homeschooling via a charter school to homeschooling completely independently. I guess it’s somewhat like giving up your crutches and walking tall or getting rid of your training wheels and zooming off by yourself. I got that same exhilarating feeling when I hit the “send” button.
Why did I do it? Or perhaps one should ask, why did it take me so long to do it? Well, if truth be told, it’s always nice to get something for free- especially money! But as my mother used to say, “the only free thing is ‘fat free’ and even that you pay for!” I tried for many years to break away from the binds of a charter school but the fact that my kids could learn to swim, ride a horse, shoot an arrow, sew a blanket, draw a cartoon or build a fort all through the state’s funding, made charter schools look good. All I had to do was feed the system. So we succumbed to the annual testing, turned in our writing samples and followed a set path of state designated requirements. But overall we learned what we liked, when we liked and how we liked to! Nobody questioned if our funding was used to pay for a years worth of swimming classes or martial arts classes- until recently.
Charter schools came about from a desire to control homeschoolers in the recent 1990’s.Though started as a remedy for public schooling, charters face the same requirements and rules as public schools. We, the homeshooling community, are too many, too diverse and too hard to control. The government had to find a way to reel us in. Charter schools seemed like the answer. Some of us took the bait, hook line and sinker. Others reluctantly held on to the line and went about our ways. But honestly, you can’t go too far when you are attached to something. In fact, you can’t go beyond a month of meeting with your Education Specialist (your assigned overseer)! Also with new restrictions on funding, the state first cut down how much funding we get and now tells us how and where we can spend it! I can’t do that with my boys and their Eidi or birthday money. How is it freedom to teach if I have to finish the STAR (state test) test review by the beginning of March to ensure my kids know how to reach proficiency by state decided standards? How is it true freedom to pursue your natural interests if you have to stay on state standards and mark them off on a pre printed standard survey sheet each month? How is it truly to my child’s advantage to be rushed to read by second grade because state testing starts this year? And tell me how is it honest to mark an “X” on every day of the school calendar and turn it in even if you were on vacation? Charter schools may be right up somebody’s alley, but it wasn’t mine. I was playing the system and nobody cared. We completed state standards in no time and spend the rest of it enjoying learning. But with budget cuts, “no child left behind’s” absurd requirements and our national move towards more government control, it seems easier to do without the little money the state can try to lure me with.
Our move back to the bay made things easy as well. With all the changes we were going through, one more wouldn’t make a great impact. So I pulled the plug on dependency. I no longer get any money from the already financially depleted state, but I also do not have to make my children work mindlessly on paperwork that someone can stuff in a folder in case an educational official decides to scrutinize my family’s teaching style. No one at the CDE would really care if my child reads well, speaks articulately or writes persuasively if they didn’t pay for him to. Truly, nobody out there even knows my children like I do. So, if I want to teach them to grow up to be intelligent, sovereign and religious, then I need to show them that I can be the same. Here’s my first step in that direction. May Allah help me. Prayers please:-)

About Soulful Studies

Home schooling consultant, home educator and mother of 4, blogger
This entry was posted in Educating with Ease and tagged , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

9 Responses to Free at last!

  1. Maria Ali says:

    Assalaamu alaikum Shaheen. Excellent essay. I just posted a less eloquent but similar response on MuslimHSMoms, when I could have just forwarded your blog:-) We never used a charter with our two older children, and only use one for our youngest because they cover his speech therapist. I often miss our free days, and feel sad for those who never knew them.

  2. ummtafari says:

    As salaam alaikum,

    As you know, I’m not in CA, but VA. We don’t have the same set up here, but up until last year we filed under religious exemption. Like Maria, we also needed the school speech therapy services for 3 of our girls. We don’t receive any special funding here regardless of how you file. We do have to show proof of progress through a portfolio which is evaluated by a third party. I have mixed feelings about our freedom now. Because I know I wouldn’t put the time and effort into keeping these type of records if we were still religiously exempt and allahu alim.

  3. Megan Wyatt says:

    Awesome! This is probably the mature perspective the rest of us will get to with a few more years in the charter school system here in California!

    May Allah grant you barakah and success! Ameen.

  4. Umm Ayodele says:

    Hey Sis,

    I hear ya. I really like the money though. It helps my gets to access to educators in specific areas that I cannot provide the education for like science, math and language arts. I cannot teach all my kids every subject and still get them prepared to go to college. I am disappointed when I hear about families who aren’t doing any substantial work with their children. Not to say that is you. I meet 13 year olds who can’t add or who can’t write a few paragraphs. I guess maybe its a difference in educational approach. I really want to set my kid up for educational success so they can take care themselves independently. I think it’s useful to get the prepared for college.
    Good luck on your path it sounds like you’ll have more time to make your priorities come true.

  5. Leila says:

    MashaAllah!!! Sounds like you found your wings:) If Allah blesses you with the power to educate your kids yourself without the charter school, Alhamdulillah! I am too chicken to let go now that my kids are in the 8th grade I feel like we are in it for the long haul. As long as I find someone who is passionate about teaching to education them. Thanks for sharing your adventures with us! Hope to see you and the kids soon!

  6. Zakkiya says:

    ASA, a good article and one I can relate to because that is how I am homeschooling four of my kids now & the freedom is priceless. However, I think the CA charter schools are much more lenient than others & the ES & funds offer great support to many. Every parent should do what is best for their situation but I am glad you found the path that was right for you. May Allah make it easy Inshallah.

  7. Sammer says:

    Masha Allah Shaheen, I love this! You so capture the push and pull of being enrolled in a charter. May Allah put Barakah and Tawfeeq in your new found freedom!

  8. Umm Basmalah says:

    May ALLAH bless you with further success and Tawfeeq! Ameen

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