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Washington Natural Learning Association
Alternative Education Programs; Be Informed

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Why

The laws changed in 1995 that gave AEP's the ability to provide services to all grade levels. It used to be that these programs were for at risk teens, but not anymore. Children going into the program still are labeled at risk, even if they don't meet the criteria. School districts all over the state found they would get money for full time students, while not actually teaching them full time. The programs use a certified teacher to over see the students. How often the student meets with the teacher is up to the district and in some AEP's the student never has to meet with a teacher. In some districts students are provided with computers and other various educational materials. Some AEP's provide dance lessons and other activities that aren't available to other public school students

Next the AEP's had to market their programs. Alternative schools carry a stigma with them that they are for troubled kids. The school districts needed to change that image and sweep under the rug that children in the program are labeled "at risk." A logical step to take was to target home educators. Homeschooler already are teaching their children in the home and would be little work for the school district. The AEP's started to call themselves Homeschool programs. Soon home educators were the only group they recruited from. Most parents weren't aware that their children were to be labeled at risk. Homeschoolers would loose their home educating status under law and have to start jumping through all the public school hoops. The district dangled the carrot under home educating parent noises, and at the same time neglected the children enrolled in regular public school.

Parents that called the school district to ask questions about home educating were directed to the AEP program, which in reality isn't home educating under Washington State law. Some districts are guilty of letting students in the AEP useing state purchased religious material, while at the same time not extending that offer to regular school students. Districts denied students part-time enrollment in these programs, which is against the law. The school districts are acting in an unethical manner and in some case illegal. They are harming children and taxpayers in the
process. Everyone should contact their government officials and demand a stop to the wrongdoing.

http://www.leg.wa.gov/wac/index.cfm?fuseaction=Section&Section=392-121-182

"WAC 392-121-182   Alternative learning experience requirements.  An alternative learning  experience may be counted as a course of study. An alternative learning experience is an  individualized course of study for a student who is not home-based pursuant to RCW  28A.225.010(4), a private school student pursuant to RCW 28A.225.010 (1)(a), or an adult
 education student. The alternative learning experience is provided in accordance with a written  alternative learning experience plan that is implemented pursuant to the school district board's  policy for alternative learning experiences."

Public Alternative Education Programs aka "Homeschool" Alternative Education Programs

 

The regulating laws.

Home Education: RCW 28A.200, the Home-Based Instruction Law AEP: WAC 392-121-182, Public School Alternative Learning Experience

Who controls your child's education: Home Education: The parents are in control of their child's education. Parents can choose and control all curriculum content, or have no curriculum at all, parents may also used religious material.

AEP: Public school staff and the government are in control of the AEP (Alternative Education Program). Districts provide curriculum, and choose content, some may allow parental suggestions, but ultimately the district makes the decisions. All religious material is against the law and can not be used in anyway with an AEP.

Testing/Assessments requirements:

Home Education: There are two options - standardized achievement test, or an assessment done by a certified person. All results are for the parents use only and are for your own use and records. AEP: Students take the WASL (Washington Assessment of Student Learning). Passing the 10th grade WASL is a graduation requirement for 2008 high school graduation, making it virtually impossible to opt out.

What are the requirements for student progress: Home Education: The child has to make progress from the last year.AEP: The students performance is evaluated. If the child isn't progressing to desired levels, the AEP has to be revised.

Other requirements:

Home Education: Must file a declaration of intent to notify the school district you are responsible for your child's education. Must follow all other requirements laid out in RCW 28A.200.AEP: Students loose their home educating status and must follow all other laws and regulation laid out for public schools under WAC 392-121-182. These programs are targeting home educators almost exclusively. Since AEP's operate under the at risk child education WAC's each student that joins an AEP becomes labeled at risk.

copyright 2002 bec thomas