Why do California Parents Choose a PSP when Homeschooling?
Updated: 4 days ago
Do you really want your family's name, address, phone number, email addresses, and your children's grade levels, among other personal information, published online and made available to anyone who visits the California Department of Education's website?
During and after our Covid experiences, many California families have turned to independent homeschooling for the first time. In California, homeschooling parents must meet specific requirements in order to comply with the state's compulsory education laws. Fortunately, parents have options to choose from that will help them adhere to state laws while also meeting the personal needs of their individual families.
What are the options and why do parents choose a PSP when homeschooling?
According to the Homeschool Legal Defense Association, California law allows parents to legally homeschool their children by choosing one of these three options:
Hire a credentialed teacher to plan and teach your child either one-on-one or in a small group. While this option can provide excellent results and does not require the parent to teach, it can be extremely expensive, often costing thousands of dollars per month. Yikes!
Enroll in an “independent study” program via public, charter, or private school. Joining a Private School Satellite Program (PSP) such as Talega Prep falls into this category. These independent study programs vary from each other in several key ways.
a. Public and charter school programs are funded by taxpayers
b. Public and charter school programs must meet the state requirements for curriculum,
including mandated coverage of subject matter that may not be in accordance with a
family's personal values
c. Public and charter school programs are required to collect work samples regularly
d. Public and charter school programs often require weekly parent meetings with
educational facilitators or teachers
e. Public and charter school programs require state standardized testing
f. Public and charter school programs maintain if not harvest your family's
g. Legally, if your children are not vaccinated, they may not attend charter school learning
centers, charter school classes, or other charter school activities.
Private school satellite programs (PSPs) are free of these requirements. By choosing a PSP, parents pay a small annual tuition, usually under $400, and in return receive the freedom to homeschool their children without being subject to state curriculum topics, instructional methods, texts, documentation procedures, or intrusive data collection.
Paperwork is kept to the absolute minimum required by the state--generally, this may be satisfied with just three brief forms being filed each year. Talega Prep provides secure online portals for parents to safely submit mandated documentation to each student's private account.
Parents are not required to attend meetings, although most PSPs, including Talega Prep, offer that support when the parent desires it.
The state does not require standardized testing for students enrolled in PSPs, although many PSPs, including Talega Prep, may assist parents to obtain such testing if they so wish. If parents request help, the PSP may also provide access to diagnostic testing of student ability levels, interests, and aptitudes which may help determine the best resources, teaching methods, and courses to meet the student's individual learning style and needs.
And, very importantly, with a PSP such as Talega Prep, your family's personal information is kept confidential. We file the Private School Affidavit. You do not. As such, our name, address, phone numbers, and email addresses are listed in the California Private School Directory, a roster that is published online and available to the public to access. Your information is not!
Filing a Private School Affidavit
The third way that parents may legally homeschool their children in California is to create and register their own private school following state guidelines and filing an R-4 Private School Affidavit. Many parents choose this option as it is free, and it is relatively easy to complete the online form.
However, what parents do not always realize is that by filing this form, their family's name, address, phone number, email address, and their child(ren)'s grade level(s), among other private information, are made public, to anyone, including nefarious entities who may use and or sell the information to other potentially nefarious parties. The Private School Directory may be downloaded, copied, sold, or shared with anyone.
When joining a PSP, the PSP files the private school affidavit. The parents do not. The family's information is maintained only in our private files. We are not required to provide names, addresses, or student personal information to the state. With Talega Prep, none of your information ever appears on a list that may be bought or sold.
Another serious drawback to filing your own private school affidavit is that it tells the state that you are homeschooling. Oh, how bad could that be?
To understand the answer to this question, the history of our state’s attacks on homeschooling is necessary; government overreach is nothing new to the State of California. And as homeschooling continues to draw students away from the public school system, it could easily rear its ugly head again.
From 1996-2003, California’s Superintendent of Public Instruction was Delaine Eastin. Ms. Eastin, a lifelong California Democrat, grew up in the San Francisco Bay area. Her career includes teaching women’s studies and political science for seven years as a college instructor, acting as a strategist for PacBell, and holding local and statewide political offices.
Delaine Eastin, like many public school teachers and administrators, held very negative views about homeschooling.
In the 1990s and early 2000s, while homeschooling began to gain steam as a mainstream approach to education, Ms. Eastin led a crusade against homeschooling families claiming that homeschooling was illegal and threatening prosecution of students and families for truancy, child neglect, and more.
When the California Department of Education (CDE) moved the registration of private schools to its online registry, private schools enrolling less than six (6) students were flagged as homeschools.
These homeschooled students were tracked down using the Private School Registry. County administrators, district officials, and police officers were encouraged to visit the flagged homeschools. Homeschooled students were designated as truant, and parents were threatened with jail time and even the removal of their children from their homes for not following what Eastin’s office decided was the law. Eastin’s office was wrong, and much litigation ensued.
A 2003 Michigan Education Report noted that “California alone has(d) between four and six high-profile homeschool harassment cases each year.” Essentially, the very process families used to homeschool legally, provided the government access to the names and addresses of homeschooling families that would then be used to harass them.
As Steven Greenhut wrote at the time, the law had not changed. Homeschooling had always been legal in California. What had changed was the state’s determination to force children back into public schools.
“There are no new legislative or court-imposed restrictions on homeschooling in California. What has changed is the willingness of the state Department of Education (DOE), under the leadership of a left-wing ideologue, to use whatever opportunities present themselves to harass, intimidate, and frighten parents into sending kids to public schools or to private schools that have been approved by the state."
In response to the state’s flagrant disregard for the actual law and outright harassment of families, Private School Satellite Programs (PSPs) like Talega Prep began to emerge.
Each PSP files its own R-4 affidavit and enrolls students under its umbrella. No parent or student names or addresses appear on the R-4, only the PSP information does.
Homeschooling under a PSP means the family does not file an R-4 Private School Affidavit. As such, enrollment in the PSP provides privacy as well as the freedom and flexibility to choose your own curriculum, teaching and assessment methods, and schedule. California’s vigorous opposition to independent homeschooling teaches us that privacy is of the utmost importance.
Independent homeschooling is more popular now than ever. Public schools are losing students in droves as families flee oppressive mandates, woke curricula, dangerous school environments, bullying, and low academic achievement levels. The loss of students equates to a huge loss in funding, just as it did in 2003.
We don’t know what the education bureaucracy’s response will be to this resultant funding loss. But we have seen through the Covid experience that our government officials are far from restrained. As such, the need to guard personal privacy and protect our legal right to homeschool independently cannot be underestimated.
So, why do California parents choose a PSP when homeschooling?
Most PSPs are inexpensive. Talega Prep's general student tuition is just $330 for the first student in your family and only an additional $30 for each additional student enrolled from the same family per year. For the modest cost of enrollment, the PSP handles the records transfer process from your previous school, provides outlines, suggestions, and forms needed to complete the state-mandated reporting requirements, maintains your children’s records--privately and securely, confirms school enrollment, and much more. Many families find the cost to be minimal compared to the services and peace of mind they receive.
At Talega Prep, we would love to have your family join ours. It is our pleasure and honor to help your family homeschool, your way.
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Marguerite Gaspar is the Director of the Talega Preparatory Academy, a California Private School offering Satellite independent study programs to families seeking the utmost in educational freedom. Marguerite has homeschooled her three children, taught middle school science and math for over thirty years in California public schools, and has supported homeschooling families throughout the state since 2002. She is committed to helping students and families homeschool, their way.