David Boyle: Real reason NEA attacked homeschool families in Alaska was union power and control

69
3770

By DAVID BOYLE

The lawsuit filed by the NEA-AK against homeschool parents, to be heard by the Alaska Supreme Court on June 27, has awakened the lion.  

The lawsuit was filed because a few parents were allegedly using their school allotments to purchase religious materials/courses. 

And any materials/courses the parents purchased with their allotment had to be approved by the correspondence schools.  These schools have that final approval responsibility. 

The NEA said that some parents had violated the constitution and judge Adolf Zeman agreed. 

Because of that, a robust individualized education program for more than 22,000 students was shut down. Why did everyone have to pay a heavy price?  Would it not have been better and fairer to chastise the few than destroy the entire program?

It seems the NEA-AK and the education industry seized this opportunity to rein in the homeschool program which has grown from 14,359 students in 2019 to more than 22,000 students currently. They had to stop the hemorrhaging of students from their brick-and-mortar schools.

They knew more and more parents were choosing to leave because the brick-and-mortar schools are pushing values that do not align with parents’ principles. The schools are no longer teaching the ABCs, something these parents believed is critical to their children’s future. The neighborhood public schools are even failing to teach children how to read.

Would the courts shut down the entire fishing season on the Russian River because a couple of fishermen exceeded their daily red salmon limits? I would surely hope not. Would the commercial fishing guides file a lawsuit to shut down a river because fewer than a dozen people violated the regulations? Probably not.

Instead, the State would fine the violators, take their fish and tackle, and possibly restrict their fishing privileges in the future.

Maybe the NEA-AK and the education industry had very different motives than just correcting an immediate problem of some schools not following the current law.  

Just maybe their goal was to put further restrictions on the homeschool community by putting major obstacles in parents’ way so they would become frustrated and just send their children to the brick-and-mortar schools. Most parents have said they will not return to those failing schools even if they lose the money. The real losers would be the lower income parents who want to home school but cannot afford to do so without state allotment funds.   

The education industry knows that there will be fewer students in the near future. That’s because of declining birth rates and parents pulling their children out of the traditional public schools. The NEA-AK fears losing members and losing dues. When it loses members and dues, it loses power and control.

But it didn’t know that home school parents were totally engaged in their children’s education. And these parents are angry.  These parents are mad. They know what the best education fit for their children is and they are going to protect that at all costs.

The legislators found out how angry homeschool parents were. When Senator Loki Tobin’s Senate Bill 266 correspondence school bill was heard, more than 95% of the testimony was against the bill. 

That’s because S.B. 266 placed even more restrictions on the correspondence program than the brick-and-mortar schools had.  Homeschool students had to do mandated state testing which the brick-and-mortar students could opt out of. 

Homeschool students were limited in how much of their dollar allotment could be used for PE, Music, and the arts. On the other hand, brick-and-mortar students could use state funding to attend plays and musical events. And homeschool parents were only allowed to roll over 10% of their remaining allotments to the next school year.  Meanwhile, the brick-and-mortar schools could keep all their state funding in their unreserved fund balance account for the next year.

There was no equity for home school parents and their children.  

The overwhelming testimony by home school parents virtually killed that bill.

In contrast, when House Bill 400, the correspondence school bill, was heard in the House, more than 95% of the testimony favored the bill because it had few restrictions to the current program. It put the responsibility on the State Board of Education to implement the bill through regulations.

The NEA-AK filed its lawsuit based on the fact that some parents were violating the Alaska Constitution by using their allotments to purchase courses/materials from private and/or religious institutions. It believed these parents were violating Article VII, Section 1 which states, “The legislature shall by general law establish and maintain a system of public schools open to all children of the State, and may provide for other public educational institutions. Schools and institutions so established shall be free from sectarian control. No money shall be paid from public funds for the direct benefit of any religious or other private educational institution.”

Let’s look at some other violations of the Alaska Constitution. Alaska funds the Alaska Performance Scholarship program, which helps students pay for their college expenses. These state funds can be used to pay for expenses at private educational institutions as well as public institutions.

Here is a list showing private postsecondary institutions and career-technical institutions that benefit from the publicly funded scholarship program:

Alaska Bible CollegeAlaska Career CollegeAlaska Christian College
Alaska Pacific UniversityCharter CollegeEmbry-Riddle Aeronautical University
Wayland Baptist UniversityA Head of Time Design AcademyAlaska Driving Academy
Alaska Technical CenterAmundsen Educational CenterThe Beauty School
Kenai Peninsula Driving InstructionLand & Sea AviationMetrOasis Advanced Training Center
Northern Industrial TrainingTrend Setters School of BeautyYuut Elitnaurviat – ThePeople’s Learning Center

Will the NEA-AK file a lawsuit against the State of Alaska for funding these private educational institutions? Probably not because it stands to lose little.

Here’s another violation of the Alaska Constitution. The most recent session of the House went over the limit of days that it can convene. The Legislature must adjourn within 120 days of its convening. Here is Article II, Section 8 that prescribes this:

“The legislature shall adjourn from regular session no later than one hundred twenty consecutive calendar days from the date it convenes except that a regular session may be extended once for up to ten consecutive calendar days.”

Will the NEA-AK file a lawsuit against the Alaska Legislature for violating the Alaska Constitution?  

One should not be able to selectively choose whether the Alaska Constitution is being violated. But that is just what the NEA-AK and the education industry have done. It fits their purpose.

The NEA-AK has created a crisis for the more than 22,000 homeschool students.  In doing so, it has activated an overwhelming group of parents who will protect their kids no matter what the cost.  

This homeschool parent sums up the feelings of most, “I really liked how he said that “24K students aren’t just going to line up to register at their neighborhood school.” 

He couldn’t’ be more right about that. When we go independent, they will lose the funding that they get from the federal government by being able to claim us as public school students.  Anyone who thinks we’re just going to enroll en-masse up the road and hand our kids over is delusional.”

David Boyle is an education writer for Must Read Alaska.

69 COMMENTS

  1. Unions … useful idiots. NEA-AK’s goal is to produce brainwashed and illiterate leftist garbage that will promote the radical progressive agenda. Homeschooling is an ideological and fiscal threat to them. Death to unions.

      • Of course, the public service unions are all about getting more pay for less work. Whereas, the private sector unions are all about doing less and getting paid more.
        Public unions try to protect the lowest performers, whereas private sector unions prevent management from applying any performance standards to employees because the lowest level performers could be adversely impacted.
        .
        The two are so different that I cannot really make a statement about them in one comment.

    • Religious teachings are not the same as reality education where what’s taught can be proven by data and research, dictionaries, encyclopedia, documented verified history, no hocus pocus and supernatural fictional stories..
      You Eastman are not a teacher, but a controversial legislator.

      • Meanwhile the pagan theocracy preached by the n.e.a and through government schools goes unchallenged? I think not.

        You aren’t opposed to religious schools. You just don’t want religions that are not yours.

      • Curiously, most of the crap the NEA is pushing for is not supported by data, research, dictionaries, or documented verified history. I am thinking climate change, CRT, gender issues, etc…
        The difference between what you call supernatural hocus pocus and climate change, gender issues, and race are negligible.

  2. Alaska Constitution: Article VII: Section1: “Schools and institutions so established shall be free from sectarian control”. The NEA is by definition a sectarian entity. The Alaska Constitution forbids the NEA from having any control of our schools in any form. Well? What pray tell shall we do?

  3. Parents are not professional college educated teachers and are afraid to see their little one face the real world of interaction, timely attendance, cordial, businesslike, punctual though some kids are slower, we all have to live together in a organized way, that’s why we have one Army, one Navy, one Air force, one currency, one government one nation under God., E-Pluribus Unum (Out of Many One)..
    U.S. Constitution was our first socialist document.
    We have our individual freedom’s in many other ways including the free business market, capitalism.

    • > Parents are not professional college educated teachers and are afraid to see their little one face the real world of interaction, timely attendance, cordial, businesslike, punctual though some kids are slower,

      You have no clue to the reality of a homeschooled and educated child’s life. It is light years better (and safer) then the system you advocate.

    • Ever hear the phrase: “Patriotism is the last refuge of the scoundrel”? It’s pretty old, circa 1775. Some things never change.

      I would note that it is your “professional college educated teachers” are the ones bringing DEI, trans, LGBTQWTF, Antisemitism, and all the current destructive educrat fads into the classrooms. They were the ones whose union brought the lawsuit before Judge Adolph.

      The rest of your one nation shopping list is demonstrably false, but a nice effort at trolling, though. Cheers –

    • Thank you for this post! You unintentionally just proved every reason why we absolutely need to maintain the freedom of parents to educate their children.

    • It is unfortunate that ASD and NEA can not seem to hire professional college educated teachers that can actually teach basic math reading and science considering the amount of money that is never enough for the high priced administration cost of indoctrination.

        • And also freedoms is plural, not possessive. An apostrophe has no place there.

          If you’re going to try to point out grammatical errors in others’ posts, you’d better make sure your own are squeaky clean.

          But who would I be to know? I’m just a college educated homeschooling mom.

          • So, for some inexplicable reason, I cannot point out someone’s error if I have made and error myself? In order to speak the truth someone must be perfect in their own right? Nonsense. Truth stands on its own regardless of who utters it.

    • I appreciate having an opposing view as it allows us to weigh our own view against something and be challenged to consider an alternative truth. If we are willing to do so.

      Do you believe the public school system is better than parent-led education, or are you just opposed to how the money is spent?

      Here are some objective metrics to weigh against your opinion of homeschool education:

      ‘https://www.nheri.org/research-facts-on-homeschooling/

      I would just draw attention to the outperformance of homeschool students on standardized testing, including Black students testing up to 42% better than Black public school peers.

      By virtually every metric you can find, homeschooled students are outperforming public sector children.

      A homeschool student costs the city 1/4 of a public school student, will test better, learn more, and is less likely to abuse substances or commit suicide. Any program that accomplishes all this should be praised and supported by the entire community— it’s our most fiscally responsible and best path forward to improving our education system and society as a whole.

      I’m not anti-public school. Not in the slightest. Public schools are necessary for our communities and children. They are a good thing— a blessing many communities around the world do not have access to.

      But, homeschool is a good thing too.

      Any effort by either side to disrupt the success of the other is nefarious and self-serving in nature. It is born of power and personal agenda over progress.

      Let’s not belittle and attack homeschool students or parents; I thought that bullying stuff was out of vogue in the public schools.

      Thanks for the opportunity to weigh my view against an alternative one. I hope you’ll consider some of the objective data and reconsider your thoughts about homeschooling.

      Best.

  4. If I only had seen the photo at the top of this article, I would still get the point. Perfect “caption” for the concise article!

  5. It is time that ALL special interest groups including NEA-AK heed parents wishes! Teacher leave them kids alone! No more mind control and indoctrination.

  6. It’s about power and control.

    The Soviet Union and Pol Pot were big believers in getting the children and breaking family unit.

    • All leftists require adoration of the All-Powerful State. Every other relationship is secondary. In order to get complete and total compliance with the collective, the relationship that an individual has with God, family, friends, teammates, etc… must be destroyed.
      Is it any wonder the NEA is against a system that allows parents to be primary in the child’s education? Is it any wonder leftists abhor a system that reinforces the bond between a child and their parents? Not to me. Not to anyone who knows a thing about how the collectivists work.

  7. Parents stand your ground.
    Taxation without Representation.
    Parents should have a say in where, what and how their kids get educated.
    The unions are just after the money.

    Do not give in.

  8. It seems that you are pissed that they filed a lawsuit to enforce the Alaska Constitution, the NEA-Alaska doesn’t set the parameters. Dunleavy has wanted to alter the Alaska Constitution since he left Kotz for the Valley. In 2014 as a legislature he stated that the Alaska Constitution needed to be changed to implement his vision of home-schooling which was really dual enrollment and using allotment money for tuition off-set at Christian Schools. Unfortunately the man who could have set the parameters, Gov. Dunleavy, didn’t want the pre-2014 home school program. If you want a private education pay for it yourself. Law and order prevailed! The Alaska Supreme Court will rule to uphold the decision.

    • “sect
      /sek(t)/
      noun
      a group of people with somewhat different religious beliefs (typically regarded as heretical) from those of a larger group to which they belong.
      Similar:
      (religious) cult
      religious group
      faith community
      denomination
      persuasion
      religious order
      splinter group
      faction
      schism
      heretical movement
      a philosophical or political group, especially one regarded as extreme or dangerous.
      “a sect of anarchists””

      It seems there are some public schools that are breaking these rules, too, i.e., gender ideaology.

    • The Alaska Constitution is misaligned with several US Supreme Court decisions. In the longterm, I’m pretty confident that our Blaine Amendment in our state constitution will be overturned by federal courts — the same way our constitutional restrictions on marriage were overturned in 2014.

  9. Much like private schools, homeschooling has become a privilege. An entitled way of education for those where one parent can stay home. Both my parents worked and managed to send my to a great and academically hard private school, paid for books & helped pay for college. They also paid their taxes for public education. If your choice is to homeschool, quit mooching off public funds. Pay for it yourself, consider yourself fortunate enough that two parents don’t have to work to put you through an education system that works best for you. If you don’t like the public education offered, that’s fine but quit whining. Nothing is owed to you. It’s your choice, right?

    • Parents should be able to opt out of paying property taxes to that fund public school cesspools.

    • Liz, literally 90% of my property tax dollars go directly to the school district. So, if I choose to homeschool, I get to keep that 90%, RIGHT? The school district and the NEA will quit mooching off private funds, RIGHT?

      • Do parents of private school kiddos pay taxes? If they don’t, then no, you shouldn’t have to pay taxes either.

      • Oof, 90%.
        Maybe move if you have an issue where your property taxes go. Don’t know where it’s gonna be much different though.

        • Does not answer or address my question/concern in any way. You are suggesting that I shouldn’t be concerned where my hard-earned money is spent? The school district is spending my money. I’m getting exactly NOTHING in return. Why on earth would I be required to pay taxes for public education when I’m not using public education, not receiving any benefit from public education?

    • Liz, When does my money become “public funds”? Can I use my PFD (severely discounted by the legislature) to pay for my child’s private or religious school? Finally, what happens to the child of a low income family who is relegated to a failing public school? Have some compassion for those who have no choice.

      • Compassion is hardly the issue here. Low income families usually go to public school. Homeschool is reserved for the rich, the privileged. How many low income families have you seen or heard of being homeschool or gone to a private religious school? You are a citizen of this state, this country, and taxes are paid. If you don’t like it, leave.

        • Actually, I know a lot of low-income families who are ablet o homeschool in Alaska precisely because of the allotment program which has allowed them to afford curriculum, computers, and other supports that they would not be able to afford on their own. Your own privilege is showing here. If you truly cared about equity or equality for lower-income families, you’d be touting the benefits of this system which allows not just the rich to homeschool.

        • I’m not sure where you are getting that information.

          Homeschool has proven to be one of the best education opportunities for minorities and low income families based on test scores and behavioral problems.

          I’m guessing you haven’t ventured far from the private school you attended to the other side of the tracks. I’ve spent 17 years working in the most diverse neighborhood in America which is nearly entirely well below the poverty line and many of the diverse communities I’ve encountered homeschool.

          Homeschool is significantly cheaper and outperforms public schools on nearly every metric. What problem do you actually have with this?

          It’s better for the kids, the families, and the budget.

          Explain what your beef, I’m genuinely having a hard time understanding why anyone would feel this way without some ulterior motive.

      • Yes. Your can clearly use your PFD, and your kids PFD, to pay for private school.

        Just don’t use my tax money – or the other half of my PFD that the legislature and governor took from me.

    • If no one in my family is using the public education system, why should i be paying for it?

    • This is not just about homeschooling students. Correspondence programs bring educational dollars, (and thus educational equity) to all Alaskans, including Alaskan native and rural villages whose students had been underserved prior to the implementation of these programs. Colonialism is defined as control by one power over a dependent area or people! That pretty much sums up what the NEA is and does! Elitists think that they know best what everyone else should be doing. Follow the money.

  10. “Schools and institutions so established shall be free from sectarian control.”

    It seems to me that schools that push gender identity are also breaking this rule. “Sectarian” doesn’t mean just “religious.” It means “sects.” Therefore, it seems that some public schools should also not get funding.

    “sec·tar·i·an
    /sekˈterēən/
    adjective
    denoting or concerning a sect or sects.
    “ethnic and sectarian differences”
    noun
    a member of a sect.
    “a Jewish sectarian who preached the redemption of the Gentiles””

    • To the leftist, a belief in something that is not real is religion.
      Yet, the leftists also demand that everyone believe in climate change, systemic/institutional racism, transgenderism (and the 9,705,500,263.7 identified genders), and a host of other things that have no basis in reality. But, they are somehow not following a religion.

  11. I am alarmed at the list of alleged State Constitution violations in this article. Please don’t give these nefarious NEA and School Board child haters any more help destroying educational outcomes! It’s hubris of the worst kind to think this list of post-secondary institutions will not be used to further their case and harm students even more.

  12. Maybe we need to see some academic competition between the home school programs and public schools and then make a decision. I think I know who would win.

  13. Read the constitution, it clearly prohibits NEA participation in our schools. I have spent the better part of my day contacting our legislature about this. Any one else care to help? Step on up. Or, STFU.

  14. Duh. It has always been about union power and control. It has never been about the students. It has never been about education.

  15. Lessee, 22,000 displaced home-schooled kiddos end up with somewhere around 40,000 angry parents. Should those parents get sufficiently motivated and involved, we can flip several seats in the legislature this fall, and do the same with the Anchorage School Board and Assembly next April. None of this changes as long as democrats are in charge, the same democrats the NEA / AEA support in lockstep. The solution is relatively straight forward, though it will be difficult. This is an opening. Take it. Cheers –

  16. Much like we rage at the echo chamber the left lives in we must be careful we don’t do the same. I’m confident the writer if this article did not interview anyone attached to NEA-Alaska. Or any educators union. Till they do you might want to read everything with a grain of salt and believe a small percentage of what you read. Usually the truth is in the middle somewhere but if reporters are only interested in THEIR narrative, you are only going to hear that narrative

    • Richard, I have done lots of research and do know what the AFT and NEA stand for. One does not have to interview the leaders of those organizations to really know what they stand for. Kinda like asking a politician what they value instead of watching how they really vote. A big difference. I do understand the echo chamber remark. But do you really believe the mainstream media would publish any of my articles? If there are inaccuracies in the article, please point them out and I will be the first to correct them. Thanks for paying attention.

    • True for any and all news outlets, whether they are hard news or opinion based does not matter.

  17. You might be surprised, but there are likely a lot of people who believe in traditional public education, and support scrutiny of the program. I think it’s been described as a “backdoor” voucher system. See Dermott Cole’s journalism and add your voices to the discussion there. The point I’m trying to make is that in this case outside “agitators” are welcome, if that’s what is necessary. Support RCV! Power to the People!

  18. Have any of you heard the latest facts on the school closures due to the pandemic? Who decided everyone needed to be 6 ft apart which closed many schools who couldn’t comply. NEA pressured for this, no scientific facts to back it up. Just an easy excuse to Not do their Jobs but go lounge on a Beach and use a laptop. They really enjoyed their paid vacation while parents struggled to do their job. How long you all going to let a money hungry LABOR Union. Not a science org, not Dr’s…just teachers not wanting to be in the classroom boss you around. You do pay their salaries, remember next time they want more school bonds to go through, screw that.

  19. David Boyle is an education writer and the only one with cajoles to Splain it like it is: NEA-AK are a cadre of tormenting, two-bit scallywags with a bundle of legislators in their collective pockets. NEA-AK are terrorists is sheep’s clothing
    They have to decimate home schooling along with help from that bozo judge Adolph Zeman. He is in somebody’s pocket
    Get rid of all of the home schooling so you can subject your child to a horde of overpaid whinny schoolteachers just complaining at every turn and supported by the School Board of clowns.

    • When you decry government control where government (citizen’s) tax dollars go, you don’t understand how taxation and accountability work. Tax dollars must be followed by many controls.

  20. Has anyone ever asked about Alaska Student Loans for college and universities going to Brigham Young, St. Mary’s, Georgetown, Baylor, Catholic University or many other religious schools. Why are these treated differently? Is it because the loan goes to families and they redirect the money in the case of Student loans? There appears to be some kind of work around here that should be applied to homeschooling families. Public education is a failure that money can not fix. After this many decades of failure it is time to alter the entire package. Public Education is the greatest failure of public money in the history of the state of Alaska. Parental choice is the only answer! As a past President of the Alaska Federation of Teachers it is time to recognize failure and it is time to have the money follow the student and parents determine the path whether private or public for the children.

    • I saw a comment earlier on this post that peaked my curiosity. The person that commented to Nick Sr.’s comment said that Nick Begich Sr. died in an airplane crash years ago. Wasn’t this the Alaskan Democratic Senator from 1971-1972? He was well-liked by many people and died too young. RIP Senator Begich Sr.

    • Nick Begich Sr, your point that “public education is a failure that money can not fix” is only partially correct. The truth is, the more money we throw at public education the worse it gets. The entire solution is contained in one word: vouchers.

  21. This article also shows why “school choice” is a bad idea. Tax-funded school choice is just an expansion of education welfare and will let the state get more control over private schools and (private) homeschooling. With government money, there should and must be a lot of government control. Besides, Americans have had school choice for over 200 years.

  22. The Alaska public education system, with few exceptions, has always been a government jobs program for low achieving college graduates. The NEA cannot tolerate competition.

Comments are closed.