As schools in and around Phoenix and Scottsdale begin reopening in various formats, parents are scrambling to again make sense of how it will all come together. As many as 71% of parents see the move to reopen as one that carries a large to moderate risk. And, despite the challenges it has caused, as few as 17% in some polls believe their kids should return to school.
Many area parents are left confused, frustrated, and feeling helpless as schools reopen and virtual options through the district look more and more duct-taped together. But, for those parents feeling uneasy, there are a lot of options out there. In fact, many options are free or funded by scholarships. Here are 6 quick things you maybe didn’t know about educational options in the Phoenix and Scottsdale areas!
1. You can switch to homeschooling at ANY time.
Homeschooling laws allow you and your kids to transition out of public schools and into a homeschool, microschool, or learning pod environment whenever you see fit.
2. Switching isn’t permanent… at all.
Think homeschooling is right for COVID, but only for COVID? Fine. Despite what may feel like a decision set in stone, switching to homeschool isn’t permanent. You can head back to public schools at will, when and if you deem it right for your family.
3. You can apply for the ESA funds throughout the year.
You can apply for the Arizona Empowerment Scholarship Account (ESA) year – round. Arizona families who have a child with a 504 or IEP plan are just a few of the categories of parents who may qualify for an ESA. This scholarship can be used to pay for private school tuition, therapists, tutors, curriculum and more!
4. Microschools are affordable for all families
Arizona microschools, like Prenda, provide an incredible learning environment for Arizona families with a unique, hands on, student centered approach to learning. And while there is often a cost associated with microschools, there are many creative ways to offset this expense.
5. Many homeschool and microschools avoid “teaching to the test,” focusing on crucial learning material
Most national polling shows parents are absolutely fed up with onerous standardized testing in schools. The tests rank and sort students based on a narrowly defined vision of what success looks like in education. They don’t represent quality education as parents define it and they don’t help students to succeed. Well, good news: homeschool families are exempt from standardized tests that don’t measure whether a student has mastered the subject matter. Families can decide to homeschool, and be free from testing, at any time simply by filing an affidavit with their local county school superintendent.
6. Learning pods are available to ALL families.
Learning pods describe communities where smaller groups of parents gather together to instruct their children in various subjects. Those arrangements are available and possible for families of all shapes and sizes in Arizona. Tuition-tax-credit scholarships and Empowerment scholarships may be available to some learning pods and microschools, while others partner with local charter schools and are offered tuition-free. The funding can be a bit complicated and may require some expert help. Luckily there are many folks offering just such a service (see below).
You have choices. With the right information and a little help, you can find your kid’s custom-fit education! There are dozens of organizations dedicated to helping parents wade through the choices, the funding, and the implications of each path. The form on this page will connect you with an expert from one of those groups. They’ll walk you through your options and work with you to find the right-fit school for you and your family.