Parents are petitioning the Anchorage School District for financial help as they take on the task of homeschooling their children this year.
The district notified parents last week that schools would not be reopening for at least the first quarter of the upcoming academic year due to COVID-19 concerns. A petition at Change.org is now asking the district to send a homeschool stipend of $2,000 for each elementary student and $2,400 for each high school student to help Anchorage families pay for books, supplemental materials, tutors, special needs providers and other educational expenses.
In deciding to stay closed to in-person classes, thousands of parents are now scrambling to figure out schedules, curriculum and an effective way to home educate roughly 45,000 students.
The petition asks the district to use funds from its “non-instructional operational expenses” that are typically used to operate school buildings to help fund home education this year.
If the solution is for children to learn at home, then the solution must involve resourcing parents to do the job.
“We are parents with kids in ASD schools who also prioritize the safety of our schools and communities,” the petition states. “But, as a result of ASD’s decision, we all have unexpectedly become ‘homeschool parents’ right before school is scheduled to begin, even if we aren’t able to be homeschool parents, missed the open period for the homeschool lotteries, or don’t have the resources to effectively educate our children.”
The petition was launched by Kelly Tshibaka, Alaska Commissioner of Administration. In two days, it has garnered nearly 400 signatures and counting.
“My children’s education cannot be one more COVID victim,” Tshibaka wrote. “Their academic goals cannot languish or regress; they must progress in this time. That depends on me. I am now a homeschool mom of multiple children in different grades and a full-time employee in a home with two working parents. We need financial help so we can get tutoring assistance to support our children. We’re doing the work. We need the resources to succeed.”
The petition states that Anchorage parents need access to homeschool funding for the following reasons:
- We work full-time during the day;
- We are unemployed and looking for work;
- We have kids with unique or special needs;
- We are teachers who have to provide digital instruction to other ASD students during the day; or
- We do not understand the complexity of the material our children are learning.
Typically, homeschool families receive stipends through district or statewide homeschool programs.
“Some of us have tried to enroll in Alaska homeschool options, but they are not accepting students or have long wait lists,” the petition explains. “We weren’t given adequate notice to enroll our kids in time, and the Alaska homeschool programs are also under-resourced for this demand.”
“If the solution is for children to learn at home, then the solution must involve resourcing parents to do the job,” it adds. “We have been forced into homeschooling and we are expected to do the same work as homeschool parents in Alaska homeschool partnerships, but we haven’t been given the student allotment they receive. It’s not fair to our children.”