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Categories: Léo’s Insights 2020-2021, On The Alberta Home Education Association
Tags: AHEA, Alberta Home Education Association
Moving on to another concern respecting the new funding arrangements being advanced as improvements by AHEA, we will now address the carrying forward of funds.
At first brush, this looks like a good thing, but we must ask a few more questions. If we are aiding home educating parents, is it a good thing to help them be bad money managers? Secondly, if the money is not needed this year, will it be needed next year? On the other hand, does advancing a use-it-or-lose-it approach to home education funding make parents creative in their efforts to “get all their money”? Most importantly, if there was no funding would you still be home educating? I hope so.
I have mentioned it before and it is very much worth repeating: if anybody, and I include parents, providers and schools, is putting money first, it is a mistake. Money is what created the home education industry in the first place. Money is what keeps it alive. To be sure, not everybody is moved by money, but unfortunately, there are some who are. Providing for bad accounting practices or inappropriate usage of funds will exacerbate this problem, not fix it.
We, at Education Unlimited, ended the carrying forward of unspent funds years ago. We had discovered that it only encouraged parents to be bad money managers. As we desire to help parents, we taught them to think about and carry forward their expenses rather than equip them to ignore proper accounting practices.
This worked well for two reasons. First, it put parents in control of their finances, rather than enabling them in shoddy bookkeeping. Second, it made everyone think twice about the blessing of these funds, if indeed parents accepted funding, and it taught them to be responsible in their handling of it.
From our perspective, not carrying forward unspent funds greatly streamlined our accounting and simplified things for the school. Parents did not complain, but rather adapted, and the bureaucracy was pleased.
Money that was not spent was moved into our school which greatly helped it with its finances, allowing it to continue and, by extension, Education Unlimited, as well. Being able to close the books at the end of the year helped everyone. Because, really, how many parents keep track of what was spent or not spent this year and what will be going forward into next year? Trust me, ending the carrying forward of funds was the best thing we did for everyone. Then, AHEA “fixed” it!
I am sure that from a parental perspective, perhaps especially for those with less than good business acumen, carrying funds forward may appear to be a good thing. However, consider: if budgeting on the basis of only having to account for 75% of your expenses and dragging this over two years is not a good way to manage a household, how can it be good anywhere else? In spite of the fact that a few agencies and parents see this as good, it comes with the stigma of monetizing children as currency, once again.
The bookkeeping involved with home education is already difficult, and school audits are truly a complicated and stressful procedure. Encouraging mismanagement while complicating accountability is NOT an improvement. In fact, rather than improve things, did AHEA not reinstate and increase the confusion, complexities, inconsistencies and potential abuses related to the funding of home education? And if so, could these “benefits” ultimately frustrate the government into completely abolishing funding for home education in this province?
Who was AHEA thinking about when they came up with this one?
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