That’s right, I said it. In my opinion, the Northern Michigan Partnership home school program does not meet the legal qualifications to receive any state aid at this time. The whole 75% vs. 15% is only the half of it. I do not believe that the program qualifies for per pupil state aid at all.
Stay with me here.
The State School Aid Act of 1979. Michigan Law 388.1766b gives the rules for per pupil funding. The law says:
…state school aid shall be provided under this act…only for a curricular offering that is…available to full-time pupils in the minor’s grade level or age group…
In other words, if underwater basket weaving isn’t available to the full time kids, it can’t be counted for home schoolers. So if TCAPS isn’t willing to offer pass/fail online guitar class for all the full-time brick & mortar building kids, they can’t offer it just for home schoolers either. The MDE eluded to this issue in their ruling on the appeal.
TCAPS reps said something about how kids in school buildings don’t want to take the homeschool classes. So it seems like they understand the law, they’re just making excuses that the law shouldn’t matter because the full time kids don’t want to take online, pass-fail guitar class. But the law doesn’t excuse the district from offering the courses to the full timers if, in the opinion of the district, the full time kids wouldn’t want to take the classes anyways. I mean, who wouldn’t want to take online pass/fail guitar class?
MDE officials mentioned the issue of availability in their report. They could offer these classes after traditional school hours, but for credit, at existing TCAPS buildings. I guess the follow-up question there would be whether TCAPS would be required to provide transportation for the kids who choose to enroll. They would also have to grade the home school kids in the same way that they grade all other kids. What other non-essential courses does TCAPS offer at the high school level that are pass/fail?
The Michigan Department of Education blasted TCAPS in its decision upholding their decision to rescind $700,000 in student count fraud. Everyone’s being polite and calling it a classification error, but if it looks like a fraudulent duck and smells like a fraudulent duck…
The kids in the homeschool partnership program only took classes in person one day a week. TCAPS said that they loaded the kids up with enough related, online coursework that the kids were doing the equivalent of 3/4 of a full-time student. For elective classes like guitar and dance.
So let me get this straight. If what TCAPS said was true, these kids were devoting 75% of their curriculum time to enrichment classes like the arts and only 25% of their time to reading, writing and ‘rithmetic. There’s no way that was the case.
There must be data out there somewhere on how often these kids logged in online and how much time they spent online compared to in person meetings. TCAPS tried to pass it off to the funding people as a virtual school with only incidental, in-person meetings. Then nearly all of those kids and parents should be able to speak to the fact that the face-to-face meetings were only a small portion of their virtual school experience. And what kind of online curriculum do you set up for pottery and gymnastics?
Then there’s the thinly veiled threats from TCAPS officials that without the cash cow, the program can’t continue to exist in its current form. That doesn’t quite make sense. Perhaps the program isn’t going to be the golden goose for other TCAPS programs, but wouldn’t it sustain itself if they were forced to be honest with their funding. Likely the real issue is that they’re going to have to comply with the law to actually make the classes available to everyone, and they don’t want to do that.
Perhaps if math were emphasized more in the curriculum, they could have figured out that meeting 1 day per week out of 5 school days doesn’t work out to 75% of a full time student. 1 out of 5 is 20%. Calling it 75% is some fuzzy wuzzy math.
Of course, TCAPS does what TCAPS does and they threw some conclusory insult shade at the MDE. Basically they said that the MDE hates education (otherwise they’d be good with fraud?) or they’d let this slide under the rug.
If the homeschool program is a full-on, straught up, virtual school, as TCAPS claims, they would have the kids doing the traditional curriculum. The virtual school would be another of the many virtual school pop ups that are competing for per pupil funding.
When the issue was first brought to light, then-superintendent Paul Soma called the whistleblower “malicious.” So like, are you malicious if you’re right?
So not to worry, State Rep Larry Inman already fixed this for TCAPS by porking out a bill that grants them the $700K that they need to pay back the MDE. That’s right, that Larry Inman. The Larry Inman that is awaiting trial on charges of soliciting bribes. Dirty Traverse.
It’s always amusing to me when outsiders, like the MDE in this case, and federal prosecutors in Inman’s case, get involved and call a spade a spade. The locals respond by putting up smoke screens, throwing personal shade and getting their friends to misinterpret the laws. And then every once in a while a bigger, stronger outside agency comes in and says, aw hell no. It’s refreshing to see someone actually take a broom to Dirty Traverse every once in a while.