Sunday, February 26, 2012

Santorum flap isn't about Homeschooling

Santorum's children were enrolled in a public charter school. They were public school students who received their education at home.
U.S. Sen. Rick Santorum should reimburse $100,000 to the Penn Hills School District for taxpayer money used since 2001 to cover online charter school tuition for his children, four school board members said Thursday. The senator will not respond until the board makes a formal request, said Santorum's deputy chief of staff, Robert Traynham
The flap  is because his children were enrolled in a public school program that they didn't qualify for based on their residency.
"He's admitted he's not a resident. I'm going to put up a motion for him to pay back the entire amount," said Penn Hills School Board member Erin Vecchio, chairwoman of the local Democratic Committee. Penn Hills Superintendent Patricia Gennari said she phoned the senator Wednesday afternoon to arrange for the district to query him about his residency. Santorum issued a statement late that night saying he had decided to pull his children from the online school and home-school them instead after being told by district officials that "only children who live in a community on a full-time basis" are eligible for the tuition money.
Homeschoolers are self funded, they do not receive tax/tuition money and the State does not assist them with textbooks, materials or supplies.

The issue here is clear Senator Santorum was doing what many public school parents do, illegally sending his children to a public school in a district they do not reside in. The waters are a little murky here because Santorum actually does own a home in the school district, they just don't live in it most of the year. Santorum could have honestly been unaware of the full time residency requirement for the "free" tuiton to the public charter school.

But it underscores the need to be clear on the educational alternatives available to parents and the regulations regarding each one.

Homeschooling laws vary from state to state. But for the most part Homeschoolers do not receive any tax money or support from the State.

Private Schools - parents pay tuition out of their own pockets for their children to attend.

Charter Schools -
Charter schools are primary or secondary schools that receive public money (and like other schools, may also receive private donations) but are not subject to some of the rules, regulations, and statutes that apply to other public schools in exchange for some type of accountability for producing certain results, which are set forth in each school's charter.Charter schools are opened and attended by choice. While charter schools provide an alternative to other public schools, they are part of the public education system and are not allowed to charge tuition.
Cyber Schools are online schools and can either be public or private.