Wednesday, July 05, 2006

Horizon Charter School Woes

So the Charter School we homeschool through is starting to get under my skin. After assigning all of the kids essays last year, not allowing children to come to the resource center, charging $125 enrollment fee and frankly having too many layers for the administrators to be affected by the feedback of the parents they took my favorite vendor out of their approved vendor list. I think it may just be the last straw with me. I was pretty upset and I'd still be sad accept I just talked to another independantly owned charter school that just opened last year that offers more money for resources ($3200 a year), no intake fees, a resource center where children are invited and very few layers with their driving philosophy being parent choice. They already approve my favorite vendor, Rainbow Resource, but said if there is any vendor that I would like just ask them and they will try to get them on the list as quickly as possible, including private instructors for violin, gymnastics, swimming and drama. It is like a big removal of a headache.

Below is my letter to Horizon about Rainbow Resource.

I called the school to try to speak to someone about the Rainbow Resource catalog being taken off the approved vendor list. No one knew who made those decisions- they are understaffed for the summer. I am not sure if you make these decisions, but thought you might know who does. I have also written my ES, on this issue. I know that this is your summer vacation, but I feel it is important and so would really like you to consider what I have to say and talk to whomever makes these decisions.

The reasons I got for taking Rainbow Resource off the approved vendor list was because they also sell Christian material and there had been some things ordered that had Christian content and had to be sent back. I do understand that this is a hassle, but I think it is one worth dealing with as the benefits outweigh the cost. Rainbow Resource is a huge catalog, almost 1200 pages this year. They do their best to include everything for the homeschooler. Obviously this is going to include some Christian material, but it also includes much that is not. The amount of stuff that is not is huge allowing the parent to order almost everything they need from one place while still being extremely selective in their choices so that they can have the materials to educate their students in the best way possible. Also every item on my list for this next year that I found in approved sources was cheaper through Rainbow Resources. They have always been cheaper and because of this more supplies can be ordered for the students or the money can be used to take courses at the learning centers. Rainbow Resources also offers free shipping for purchases over $150 and as the Charter School, rightly or wrongly we won't get into, still charges the parents the shipping costs. This amount that they charge the parents, but was actually not charged to them can certainly pay the shipping fee for the occasional book that was mistakenly ordered, by the parent who did not realize it had Christian content, to be returned.

As far as excluding them, because they also sell Christian material, one does not have to think very far to realize the gross discrimination that that is. Also many more vendors such as A Brighter Child would have to be excluded as they also sell some Christian material.

So while I understand that it would take a little more work for the administration to double check and return an occasional item I think the benefits to the students outweigh that. And frankly aren't we all doing this for the students? I hope the people making these decisions can offer a quick yes to that. Sometimes I do wonder if they aren't much more interested in the money than the children.

But let's say they are more interested in the money. From that stand point I will tell you why they should reinstate the catalog. Not only are the supplies cheaper, but most of the other charter schools do approve this vendor. I was discussing this with the Sacramento Homeschoolers elist and found that South Sutter Charter who is set up by the parent company, IEM, that set up Horizon originally before Horizon broke from it, not only does approve Rainbow Resource, but they also give the parents between $1400 and $1700 a year with no intake fee. They also pay their ES's more than Horizon. In other words there are options for the parents and the more Horizon tries to control the set of parents that are working hard to provide a good education for their students the less inclined they will be to stay. And as parents who are working hard for their students leave so will the money associated with them. Of course they will still be able to keep the ones who are homeschooling because they can't make it in public school and this is their last option, but somehow I don't think that most of those students will increase the Charters test scores, enabling them to keep their charter. If that is the case I think it may damage their pocket book too.

I do understand that they are suggesting that we look at A Brighter Child and Home Learners Catalog as replacement vendors, but neither of these had even half of what I need for next year and both were more expensive on every item.

I bragged to my Beginning Homeschooling class I taught about the really good learning centers and fabulous resource center available to parents through Horizon and I really hope the good continues to outweight the bad. Please do what you can by voicing my concerns to the right people.
Thank you,
Melissa Calapp Parent to two Horizon students and Horizon graduate

1 comment:

alexandra said...

We are also an LDS family that has homeschooled our 3 children from the start. We recently moved to Sacramento area and are looking into the possibilities of the Charter School option for homeschoolers.

In your Blog, you mentioned of a Charter that was giving $3200 for the stipend. Could you please share the name of this school? Any other info that you have for us in regards to the Charter School option would be appreciated. Thanks.