The San Diego Union-Tribune has been a frequent critic of the Inspire family of schools and those who support our schools through their work with Inspire Charter Services - what you likely know as Inspire District Office. It looks like we are facing yet another critical article this weekend, this time questioning some recent personnel decisions made by the Inspire Charter Services office.
When Inspire Charter Schools was one organization that managed the Inspire family of schools, it employed a Parent Advocacy Team (PAT). Everyone involved with Inspire Charter Services and the schools have always believed in supporting parent choice and the PAT was comprised of seasoned homeschool moms who could facilitate outreach events and field trips, provide parent support with homeschool resources, and act as liaisons to ensure staff remains committed to hearing the parent voice.
Over the last two years, as the schools became independent organizations and as deep dives into school policies resulted in the closing of the Enrichment Academies, teachers at Inspire affiliated schools were looking for ways to engage families in field trips and provide parent support in the local communities, so the Community Connections program was formed. Also this year, the California Homeschool Parent Association was launched to form local parent boards and promote the parent voice at the school level. Throughout this process, the PAT continued to be employed not by the schools but by the service organization. Over time, as the schools took the lead in forming their own parent support networks, it became clear that the work previously performed by the PAT had been fully assumed and, in fact, expanded by the schools.
Of course, the decision to say goodbye to the PAT members was a difficult one, but it was necessary so that Inspire Charter Services could free up those funds to better serve the needs identified by the schools.
Now, you may be asking why this has reached the level of qualifying as a news story in a major daily newspaper. The short answer is because reporters - even those tasked with covering public education - still lack an understanding of what it means for families to homeschool their children. To many, homeschooling is literal, that a student sits at home like they would in a school building for hours at a time when the reality could not be further from the truth. Homeschooling families are an incredibly engaged group who actively seek out opportunities to enrich and personalize their students’ education by connecting with one another. The Union-Tribune will likely imply that those former PAT members’ connections to other organizations that helped families identify enrichment activities for students was a conflict rather than a service. The decision regarding PAT was part of our organization’s evolution, no matter how much others may want it to be something else.