“When the child was a child,
it had no opinion about anything,
had no habits,
it often sat cross-legged,
took off running,
had a cowlick in its hair,
and made no faces when photographed.”
Song of Childhood – Peter Handke
The Local Education Authority
Curriculum is the first place homeschool parents confront school authority. Dealing with Local Education Authority (LEA) usually comes as an administrator representing the local system and a set of forms to file. The LEA has many names, but is usually the local school board. These are often elected politicians who create, implement and enforce local educational policy. The responsibility for curriculum and implementation entwines with many other levels of government, community, county, state, and even federal, but authority ultimately rests with this local government entity.
The ideology behind the selections in curriculum and goals for administering the school social agenda is set higher at the state level. Most state boards of education set requirements for graduation, for example, and it is the LEA responsibility to assure that the local curriculum meets those standards. These requirements vary from region to region, but not significantly. The state and federal governments also influence curriculum through funding. Political parties and social movements also influence this funding to achieve social goals. Curriculum quickly becomes serious business, so the parents’ first interaction with the system must go well.
The LEA allows parents to select the school type: public or private. The parent also may choose a neighborhood school or a charter school if these are available in the district. The process is bureaucratic and routine. Homeschool is a choice, but this choice takes the student away from the district. Homeschool takes the family off the menu. Different forms are required. Sometimes a brief interview. The parent must understand that choosing homeschooling changes nothing. The LEA is still in authority. Homeschool allows curriculum choices beyond the menu of public or private schools. It removes the student from the social agenda of administrators and teachers. It does not remove the child from potential social services contact or other local education laws.
Getting Free Legal Advice
Parents must prepare to leave the system. When dealing with Local Education Authority (LEA) and the school administrators, never treat them as allies or as resources for anything but their own paperwork. Declaring intent to homeschool usually only requires the parent to notify the school administrators, but an hour getting local legal background pays off. One good site for legal issues, and local regulations in 2021 is Findlaw.
Findlaw.com/education.htmlFindlaw.com is a legal site with extensive free information on education law and the local implementation of that law. Lawyers with specific qualifications can also be contacted through the site if that becomes necessary.
Administrators, teachers, and the administrative assistant across the counter are paid by the existing system. They oppose your choice. Homeschool removes funding from the LEA budget by reducing headcount, so any cooperation is at best passive.
Dealing with Local Education Authority LEA Lesson Plans
With the decision and the declaration done. The LEA often requires parents to answer questions about curriculum and lesson plans. The LEA has another box to check off. Plan to have an answer when asked about your home school plans. This may be a form the parent-teacher completes for the secretary at declaration, or periodically to the LEA. Nothing complex. Nothing controversial. Be prepared before the meeting. What is your good curriculum? Whether you provide a religious or secular program replacing the public agenda, many canned programs are available. Most cost, but a quality free program can be designed by a parent willing to assemble materials. A good curriculum includes basic skills, life skills, social skills, and some form of preparation for future employment. Keep your answers short.
Lesson Plans are not a mystery, and no, you do not need an education degree to follow one, to buy one, or to invent one. Lesson plans can be purchased as part of a home school curriculum, year by year, or simply purchased piecemeal. If you want guidelines, look at what is required to pass the General Equivalency Diploma (GED). A program pointed in that direction will pass any government inquiry.
Ironically, most public schools do not rely on a curriculum to derive lessons themselves. The current fashion is to approach learning from what the student learns, not what the teacher teaches, so it is test driven. The lessons support testable standards. Even in those places where curriculum is discussed, no actual curriculum exists, just lessons supporting a methodology with a goal of achieving standards. Many public school graduates might have trouble passing the GED.
Searching your state’s education web page for curriculum will probably provide you with something like “Essential Skills”. The list will probably include:
- Initiative/ Self-Direction,
- Personal Responsibility,
- Adaptability/ Flexibility,
- Perverseness/ Resilience,
- Critical Thinking/ Problem Solving,
- Creativity/ Innovation,
- Inquiry Analysis,
- Informed Risk Taking. Collaboration/ Teamwork,
- Communication, Global/ Cultural Awareness,
- Civic Engagement,
The national agenda in America focuses on the social goals of inclusivity and equality of outcome, so a student might excel at school and never master the basics.In contrast, the Indian National Curriculum for Basic Education shows a different focus.
- natural sciences,
- social sciences,
- the arts, and
- physical education
The Indian agenda is also about inclusive social bonding, but it is contained under the traditional curriculum topics. A country with many languages, races, religions, and long-standing biases for caste and gender uses “language” skills to include people in the larger community. Indian policy focuses on useful basic skills. For example, good engineers bring national income from abroad.
No national curriculum exists for the United States. The US Department of Education sets standards like No Child Left Behind and Common Core. Funding is predicated on these standards. These standards must be quantifiable to allocate funds, so they are set for achievement tests at every grade level.The homeschooling parent cannot duplicate the social ideology of public school. That is the bad news. The good news is if you teach the basic skills required for a General Equivalency Diploma (GED), math, language arts, social studies, and science, your child will graduate secondary school. If you also teach languages, more math, natural sciences, social sciences, technology, commerce, the arts, and physical education, your child will be competitive in the job market with someone from Mumbai.
1The Colorado Department of Education internet site under “Colorado Essential Skills”