EDUCATION MATTERSProvides that certain parties are prohibited from incentivizing the enrollment, reenrollment, or continued attendance of a student or prospective student by offering or giving an item that has monetary value.
In July of 2020, IAHE began receiving requests from families that wanted to share information about Tech Trep Academy (TTA) into our Facebook groups. These individuals presented it to our admin team as “a new homeschooling program” that passed money from the public school system into the parents’ hands for educational purposes. A quick review of the enrollment materials made it clear that TTA was in fact a public school program seeking to recruit homeschool families through financial incentives. Families were told they would be free to use state education funds for materials ranging from textbooks to trampolines. (Unless it contained any scripture or religious instruction.)
As an organization, our mission is to serve, encourage, and protect homeschool families. And in line with that mission, we have a long-standing policy to not allow the promotion of public school programs, and posts regarding TTA were not approved.
For decades, Indiana has been an innovator in educational choice for families. From charter schools, virtual public schools, to home education, Indiana remains a leader in school choice options. And, Indiana homeschool families are among the freest in the nation with minimal regulations. While the IAHE remains focused on the needs of the homeschool community, we stand firmly against the fraudulent use of home education freedoms and protections for public school students and programs.
Indiana homeschools are classified as nonpublic, non-accredited schools, with less than one employee and are subject to different laws than public school programs. Public money demands public accountability.
TTA partners with one local public school district per state. TTA receives roughly 80% of the school’s state education money per student. The partnering school district keeps the remaining 20% of the state funding and 100% of the federal education tax money per student without ever servicing the student. Participating families are “given” $1,700 worth of points per enrolled student funded through state education tax dollars. Families are permitted to purchase goods and services such as American Girl dolls, ProClicks, scuba equipment, ballet lessons, Disney + subscriptions, virtual reality machines, rolling storage systems, bicycles, greenhouses, chicken coops, etc. while promoting themselves as a public school/homeschool partnership.
We shared our concerns with Indiana state leaders in late July and August of 2020 and in October of 2020, the IAHE published a blog post Tech Trep Academy: Raiding Public Education for Profit. Since that time, we have waited for TTA to make the changes necessary for them to operate within the bounds of Indiana law that governs public education. Unfortunately, they continue to operate and advertise their program as a “homeschool” option with public funding.
The IAHE has always advised homeschool families to be faithful and diligent in the application of all Indiana laws that govern homeschooled students. We believe the same is true when it comes to the application of laws that govern public education programs even beyond the walls of a brick-and-mortar school building. And, a program that operates outside of the legal bounds of Indiana code, in the name of “a homeschool partnership,” jeopardizes the freedoms of law-abiding homeschool families.
The IAHE stands firmly against the misappropriation of public funds in the name of home education. TTA is a public school program and as such, it should operate within the confines of Indiana law regulating public education.
IAHE stands in support of HB 1093.
- To woo home-schoolers, a new Indiana virtual school offers $1,700 stipends (Oct 2020)
- Virtual program switches school districts after Indiana scrutinizes stipends (Dec 2020)
- Public money, private purchases: the complicated arrangement between Tech Trep, homeschoolers, and a rural Indiana school district (April 2021)
- Are homeschools taking money from public education? (April 2021)
- Choice and Consequences (Jan 2022)
- Crackdown on incentives proposed after Indiana virtual school controversy (Feb 2022)
- Buy the Book: Public dollars pay for Netflix, trips to the zoo and karate lessons for kids learning from home (Feb 2022)
ANSWERS TO QUESTIONS WE’VE RECEIVED
Q: Is the IAHE against school choice?
A: Absolutely not. Home education is the oldest and freest form of school choice. In the 2021 legislative session, the IAHE actually testified as neutral on the ESA bill that was proposed and passed to include the largest expansion of school choice in our state’s history. We expressed our concerns and walked away.
Q: Is the IAHE behind HB 1093? Is the IAHE working to insert language into HB 1093?
A: No. As of the publication of this post, the IAHE has had zero involvement in this bill, we’ve had no conversations with the bill’s author about its language, and we have not testified or presented any amendments.