The coronavirus pandemic has changed our lives collectively temporarily in many ways. One of the most significant ways that our lives have changed is with how our children are educated. With social distancing, schools being closed down for periods, and even problems with mask-wearing for various children, the pandemic has seen many changes be implemented on a very temporary basis to protect children. Ask herself at this point last year whether or not you could have ever foreseen a situation where the schools would have been closed down for not only weeks but months at a time. It would have been inconceivable. What the government did in response to this pandemic will be a lesson for history teachers to go over in the future.
For now, we are left to make do with what we have been provided as far as education is concerned. For the most part, school districts are holding classes either virtually or in-person with severe modifications. You need only drive through your neighborhood in the mornings or afternoons to see small children getting off of school buses with masks on and reports about how districts are either succeeding or not succeeding when implementing digital classrooms and virtual learning. The remainder of this semester and into the spring semester of 2020 will undoubtedly be different from what most of us are used to when it comes to providing an education for our children.
When it comes to colleges and universities, we can see that the pandemic has changed how we think of higher education. With student loans, a tight job market, and competition from students abroad, the value of a college degree may not be worth what it was even a decade ago. While people are still clamoring to get a higher education, their expectations regarding the value and the cost of that education may be changing. With that said, colleges and universities will likely need to adjust their pricing mechanisms and see to it that their seats are filled with students who desire to engage in learning virtually and in person.
All this means is that education is as important as a subject now as it ever has been. Not only because of the unchanging truth that more education is a good thing but because the nature of how we educate our children and how we become educated even later in life has been changing over the years, and the pandemic speed up that process. The tried and true methods for educating ourselves may be shifting, and it has been a focus for almost every family with school-aged children and even for older learners, as well.
Education in the context of a divorce case
for those of you who are going through a divorce, education may be a topic that does not come immediately to mind as being very important but is critical not only to the long-term development of your child but to the short term goals that you are working to accomplish in your divorce case. Not only do you want to ensure a life where your child can engage in consistent and stable learning environments, but you want to be able to be in a position to make positive decisions for your child that are in their best interest. The prospect of a seemingly never-ending pandemic as well as the difficult divorce stands to throw a wrench into those plans that you may have been working on with your spouse and child for many years. However, it does not have to be this way. While you cannot always control the circumstances surrounding your child's education, you can entirely consider what circumstances you can manage and then make decisions in your child's best interest, both in the short and long term.
A great deal of the discussion regarding educational decisions on behalf of your child relates to conservatorships. A conservatorship describes the relationship that you possess in a legal sense between yourself and your child. A conservator can make decisions and hold rights with another person. You are the conservator of your child until they turn 18 then graduates from high school. After that time, you have no legal right poor duty to care for your child. However, I know in many cases, most of the arenas blog posts will be caring for your child after high school graduation due to their being in a transition phase in their life or continuing with their education.
When it comes to the rights and duties associated with the conservatorships in a divorce, you need to be aware that you both must provide primary education for your child and the right to make decisions on behalf of your child regarding their education, the responsibility to provide an education means that you need to enroll your child in public school and ensure that they attend class sufficient to gain a grade-level appropriate education and score well enough on exams and in categories to pass on to the next grade. The right to make decisions about your child's education relates to where and how your child should go to school, the classes they should take, and decisions regarding discipline in school, or even attending counseling if necessary.
As you can see, conservatorship of a child relates to a lot more than simply determining how often you will be able to spend time with your child. As such, this is an essential topic at any time that needs attention paid to it. During a pandemic, I would tell you that this is a critical topic where you and your spouse need to keep in mind all of the different situations and circumstances surrounding education in the era of the coronavirus. It is my hope, and I'm sure everyone reading this blog post hopes that these changes will be temporary. However, we can expect that many of the changes will last in some form for years after this school year, and as such, we need to be prepared to deal with those changes head-on.
Notably, I am thinking about decisions on where your child should attend school and how your child will learn best despite the challenges of this pandemic. Depending on your particular circumstances when it comes to working, your child may take advantage of numerous different types of learning methods and schooling opportunities. I want to spend some time with you today discussing how your child's learning plan may be affected by divorce and, in particular, how her divorce may impact your child's learning plan during this age of the coronavirus pandemic.
What options does your child have to attend school and get an education?
One of the great things about living in the United States is that your child has many options to choose from for their education. While your particular circumstances, income level, work schedule, and other factors may impact whether or not your child can take advantage of each of these options, there is no doubt that there are options out there for them to take advantage of. It is a situation where you and your spouse will need to determine what is reasonable right now for your child and what will be in their best interests on a long-term basis when developing an individualized education plan for them.
For starters, your child can attend public school. Your home, whether you own, or rent is zoned to a public school in the area. That school district provides elementary, intermediate, middle, and high schools for your child to attend. Property taxes in the school district go towards financing and allowing students to attend class without being charged tuition. This is the model that I'm willing to bet most of us were educated by in our youth. You would either drive your child to school in the morning and pick them up in the afternoon, or a school bus would do that. Extracurricular activities such as sports, band, after-school clubs, and other activities are also available to take advantage of.
Next, your child may be able to attend a private school in their area as well. Whether the private school is connected to a church or is more of a college preparatory environment, this is an alternative for those parents who believe that there are deficiencies in the public education system or that their child is better suited for smaller classes and more individualized attention offered in private schools. I'm not here to debate or offer my opinion on this subject; I am merely trying to share with you the different options for your child in private school is undoubtedly one that many parents have chosen to take advantage of in the Houston area.
Charter schools offer a sort of hybrid between a private and public environment for your child. Charter schools are provided through the school districts in your area and can receive private and public funding. These charter schools often focus on a particular trade or focus on things like the arts. Students can attend charter schools free of charge and cannot pay tuition like at a private school. Charter schools often take over the space of an old store or other business in strip centers or mini-malls around town. The larger charter schools have freestanding buildings and classrooms up and down the major highways in Houston.
The other option for individualized education programs for your child is offered through homeschooling. Homeschooling exists where one parent or the other will devote their time during the week towards educating your child. If either you or your spouse can homeschool your child, this may be an option he wants to take advantage of. Homeschoolers follow a curriculum approved by Texas and learn at their own pace in the home place while also taking advantage of a more flexible schedule 2 to go to museums and other sites where the classroom can be opened up in public.
Your ability to make decisions on behalf of what type of education your child is engaged with may be affected by your divorce. You should speak with your attorney about what sort of position you are in to decide where your child attends school and what kind of classes they take. If your child has a particular need or disability, then the classroom structure they take advantage of may need some accommodation. As a result, he will want to ensure that you are in a position as a conservator of your child to make good decisions for them.
Another thing to keep in mind is that if you have the right to determine the primary residence of your child, then you will need to figure out where you want to live after the divorce if you are moving. The location where you live will determine where your child goes to school in this case, so it is wise to consider schools in addition to rent, safety, and location relative to your job before you pack up and move yourself into your family after your divorce.
Questions about the material contained in this blog post? Contact the Law Office of Bryan Fagan
if you have any questions about the material contained in today's blog post. I recommend you contact the Law Office of Bryan Fagan. Our licensed family law attorneys offer free of charge consultations six days a week in person, over the phone, in via video. These consultations are an excellent way to learn more about Texas family law and our law office's services to you and your family as clients.