Homeschool Advocacy Project

at University of Washington

How to Apply

Qualifications

* Earned a homeschool high school diploma instead of a mainstream high school diploma. (Must have had high school under the home-based instruction laws; students from alternative high schools who earn high school diplomas are not eligible. Running Start is acceptable. See Eligibility Clarification below for more information.)

* Attends or has been accepted to the University of Washington.

* If awarded this scholarship, is willing to become involved with the Homeschool Advocacy Project at UW.

* Writes a good essay. :-)

 

 

To Apply

Write a 3-4 page essay (double spaced) in response to one of the following prompts:

1. In what ways has homeschooling provided you with a unique education? How do you expect having been homeschooled will influence your experiences in college and beyond? Support your claims with specific examples.

2. What are the grounds for the legal or moral right to homeschool? Should people have the right to homeschool? Why or why not? Be sure to address both sides and cite evidence when appropriate. 

3. Address the issue of government involvement. Should school districts keep track of and monitor homeschoolers? If so, to what extent? Should homeschoolers have to demonstrate to the government that they are on track educationally? If so, why? Cite research to support your claims. 

 Essays will be evaluated by a committee on the basis of:

 * Content (original, well-developed and detailed, engaging, demonstrates critical thinking)

 * Overall essay structure (clear thesis, logical organization, rebuttal if appropriate)

 * Writing mechanics (grammar, spelling, style)

 * Use of Evidence (specific support for claims, properly cited sources, academically respectable sources) 

 

If you would like assistance with any aspect of the writing process, there are writing tutors available on campus at the Odegaard Writing and Research Center. They would be happy to help you conduct and cite research, brainstorm a thesis, write an outline, and draft and revise your essay. (Please use MLA citation style and include a Works Cited page.) You can make an appointment with OWRC online.

A note on sources: "academically respectable sources" means please do not cite from wikipedia, about.com, and other similar websites. We would prefer books or websites such as the Home School Legal Defense Association or the National Home Education Research Institute. If you are concerned about the bias of a source, acknowledge that bias in your essay. Personal experience or the experience of people you know are perfectly fine to give as evidence, but be cautious about generalizing anecdotes. 

If you have any questions at all, please feel free to contact us: hapuw@uw.edu.

The committee will consist of three or more UW students who have participated in the Homeschool Advocacy Project and a faculty adviser from the UW Admissions department. 

 

Submission time: TBD

 

 

Eligibility Clarification

I received a request to include students who attend alternative schools and receive public high school diplomas, on the grounds that these students (like homeschool students) are not mainstream students. The woman pointed out that these students need financial help, too. She acknowledged that these students are in the public school system but described it as homeschooling differently.

My reply:

   Thank you for your thoughtful response. First, I would like to clarify that attending an alternative program part-time does not disqualify a student from applying to the homeschool scholarship. If a homeschooled student takes, say, foreign language and math at an alternative school (or even a mainstream public high school), s/he is still eligible for the scholarship. Homeschooled students may take up to 2 or 3 classes at a school and still be legally homeschooled. I've chosen to make the distinction based on the high school diploma and the Declaration of Intent form, because I think that (for the most part) will show best whether the bulk of the student's education has been done independently or through a school of some sort. If your son has taken some classes at an alternative school but you still file the Intent to homeschool form and your son does not receive a high school diploma from the school, he is eligible for the scholarship.
   Second, I recognize that there are challenges to being in the alternative school world, and that there may be many similarities between alternative programs such as the Parent Participation Program that you mention and homeschooling. However, I personally believe that it is important to maintain the distinction between homeschooling and participating in alternative public education programs. I feel strongly about the importance of maintaining the legal right to homeschool without excessive government involvement, and I think a key part of that is keeping the categories and terms clearly defined. 
   I have had friends who participated in alternative programs and had school 6 hours a day, 4 days a week; their parents were not legally responsible for their educations; they had homework, received grades from teachers, earned credits, and had to meet state requirements and earn a high school diploma. Now, it is not that I am opposed to their education. I respect that every student has different needs and that different programs will be ideal for different students. In the case of my friends, usually I would not have even recommended independent homeschooling.
   However, when fundraising and awarding a "homeschool scholarship" to someone I am encouraging to represent homeschooling to the university community, I strongly believe that this person must have homeschooled independently (filed the Intent to Homeschool).  If I awarded the scholarship to someone who had consistently taken full-time classes at a small alternative public school and earned a high school diploma, I would be guilty of muddling what it means to be homeschooled. I do not consider such a student to be a homeschooler. I think that encouraging the perception in the general public that THAT is what homeschooling looks like is dangerous. In my opinion, it works against decades of advocacy for homeschooling rights.  When people who have (reasonably) inferred that alternative school IS homeschooling come across a family who, say, homeschools in a more unschooling fashion and never awards grades and lets their kids learn independently and maybe skips math for a year but does immersion foreign language in another country and has never been in a classroom at all  -- that family will be a big surprise. That family will not seem to fit in the mental category of "homeschoolers." That family might even seem legally questionable.
   I dislike how easy it is for people on homeschooling email networks to start bickering about what a "real" homeschooler is. Just the term "real homeschooler" sounds like it is desperately trying to provoke an argument. To a certain extent, though, I do need a definition for this scholarship. I am not just raising and awarding money to someone who needs it so I can be generous and nice--it is for the purpose of homeschool awareness and advocacy, and to that end the recipient
must be a homeschooler.  I don't want to set restrictions based on what I personally think of as a "real" homeschooler. Despite potential weaknesses, I think a distinction based on legal status (the diploma and Declaration of Intent) is the clearest and least subjective.
   Thank you again for your feedback. If you don't mind, I would like to set up a page on the website with your message and my response, since I'm sure others would benefit from an explanation of this issue.
~Nicole

She responded that she was withdrawing her support of my efforts because I am excluding her and her children and other students who attend alternative school programs, and informed me she had removed herself as a member on this site.

My reply:
    I'm sorry that you don't find my response satisfactory. I tried to be clear and respectful. As I said, it is not a question of alternative school students "deserving" to be awarded money. I am not making a value judgment about their education. I am making a distinction of
difference, not superiority/inferiority. The scholarship I am fundraising and awarding is for homeschooled students, and while I'm sure your son is receiving a perfectly good education at an alternative school, if he is not a homeschooler, he is not in the population that I aim to support through this scholarship. You say yourself: "Many of us PPP families call ourselves home schooling families but ... are technically part of the school system". This is exactly the subtle distinction I must make. I wish to fund a student who is "technically" homeschooled, based on the clear legal definition, and will more fully represent the type of education the Homeschool Advocacy Project is about. I have nothing against PPP students or their families or their education, but I do oppose them calling themselves homeschoolers when they are actually not. You say that this is homeschooling "in a different way" but when it comes down to it, legally it is not homeschooling. I'm sorry that you have struggled with homeschoolers not socially including you, but I'd encourage you to realize that this is probably more political than personal. Many homeschooling families see it as potentially a threat to their rights to allow alternative school students to gain the status of homeschoolers.
    When you say, "you do not wish to support kids like mine," please remember that I'm not independently wealthy and giving away money to anyone who needs it. I'm a college student who has applied to dozens of scholarships in order to fund my own education. This is
not anything personal against your child. It is not going to be my money, but rather donated from the homeschooling community with the understanding that it will be awarded to a homeschool graduate. The point of this scholarship is not even to give someone money; it is to promote awareness about homeschooling and encourage a homeschool graduate to critically reflect on his/her education and become a better informed representative of homeschooling through research. It has a narrow purpose and there is a narrow population eligible to apply. Scholarships that are only for people who are, say, Pacific Islanders (because the money was donated by an organization related to advocacy for that specific group), do not imply a hatred or disdain for the other races--the others simply are not eligible.
    I'm sorry that you seem so upset by your son not being eligible for this scholarship. He might try looking at www.scholarships.com or www.fastweb.com. He could also look into the Robert C. Byrd Honors Scholarship, which is $1500 a year and renewable for up to four years. Here are some other resources:
http://www.gmsp.org/publicweb/AboutUs.aspx
http://admit.washington.edu/Paying/Freshman/Scholarships
http://www.washington.edu/students/osfa/ugaid/scholarship.html
http://finaid.org/scholarships/unusual.phtml
www.scholarshipjunkies.com
www.theWashBoard.org
There are also scholarships offered for specific high schools in Seattle - Ingraham, Chief Sealth, Renton, Foster, Highline. Perhaps your son's program offers a scholarship for its graduates. Really, that is what the Homeschoolers at UW Scholarship is---a scholarship for a specific pool of graduates donated by alumni or supporters of a specific sort of education.
   As you request, I will not include your message in my website. Again, I am sorry that my response seems to have upset you and I assure you I am not trying to make anyone feel bad or excluded. I'm sure your son will be able to find scholarships he is eligible for through the links above, and I wish him the best in successfully applying to them.

~Nicole

I hope this clarifies the issue for anyone else this requirement might affect. Please let me know if you have any other questions.