INCH’s Position Paper on Public School Partnerships

INCH wants to clearly state what has always been the case: Our vision explains that we exist “to promote Biblically-based, family-centered, privately-funded, parent-directed home discipleship” in Michigan. Therefore, we do not encourage involvement in any ‘shared time’ or partnership programs with the public schools. We are very concerned about the rapid growth of such public school partnerships because of the following reasons:

  1. Public school partnerships negatively impact private homeschool co-ops and support groups.

Homeschool co-operatives are perhaps one of the best examples of Christians working together to accomplish a common godly objective. The Church has always struggled to love one another and to work together with each one carrying their own load, truly functioning as the Body of Christ is called to do in Scripture. The homeschool community has done well over the years working together, with members from different churches, different homes, and different walks of life, coming together to share their various gifts and talents and areas of expertise, for mutual edification and benefit- to glorify the Lord as we help our children learn to know God and His world better.

If we look increasingly to government school programs to provide the classes we personally can’t or won’t teach for our children, then we rob both the homeschool community and ourselves of the joy and blessing of working together, and of the godly character development that comes through this process. Private homeschool support groups and co-ops are losing members and even ceasing to exist, as more homeschool families are looking to the government instead of to the private homeschool community, to assist them in their homeschool endeavors.

  1. Public school partnerships appear to be a violation of our state constitution and therefore a misappropriation of state funds.

All of us should want the government held accountable for the usage of our tax dollars wherever they are allocated. While this misappropriation is currently being ignored by the current administration in the educational arena, it doesn’t mean it will be ignored by subsequent administrations.  The Michigan Constitution spells out clearly in Article VIII Section 2, that No public monies or property shall be appropriated or paid or any public credit utilized, by the legislature or any other political subdivision or agency of the state directly or indirectly to aid or maintain any private, denominational or other nonpublic, pre-elementary, elementary, or secondary school. No payment, credit, tax benefit, exemption or deductions, tuition voucher, subsidy, grant or loan of public monies or property shall be provided, directly or indirectly, to support the attendance of any student or the employment of any person at any such nonpublic school or at any location or institution where instruction is offered in whole or in part to such nonpublic school students.”

  1. Public school partnerships make government bigger and fund secular education in our state.

By participating in public school partnerships, homeschool families provide public schools with additional funding collected from Michigan taxpayers around our state… and those funds are being used to develop curriculum and promote the teaching of many beliefs that are anti-Biblical and in conflict with a Christian worldview.

  1. Public school partnerships can lead families to ever-increasing involvement in government schools.

Some have entered into public school partnerships in a very limited capacity, finding them helpful with a just few non-core classes… only to eventually be enticed back into the public school full-time. INCH believes that parental Christian discipleship should be the primary reason to homeschool, with the secondary reason being to develop stronger family relationships which lead to godly influence in the lives of our children. A strong academic education is a wonderful by-product of this focus on “seeking first the Kingdom of God…” Sending our children more and more into the public school environment makes the work of training our children to love and serve the Lord infinitely more difficult.

  1. There is a real possibility for future oversight of all Michigan homeschoolers because of a need to oversee public school partnership families.

Currently there is little to no oversight or accountability for those taking the government funds through parent partnerships: no testing, no records submitted, no curriculum list, etc. At this time, there is simply a requirement to “report” or “be counted” so that the school district can procure their full per-pupil funding for the partnership students, then pass a small portion of that back to the families.   Could this oversight become much more invasive over time?  It’s a likely possibility.