Some of you may recall that the Ohio Jefferson County Educational Service Center entered the virtual school business a few years back, providing online curricula for school districts and for other curriculum providers. Home Educators were and remain a part of the target market for these programs.
The January-February 2003 Journal of the Appalachian Region Commission explained their purpose:
The Virtual Learning Academy was founded by the Jefferson County Educational Service Center as an e-learning option to meet the educational needs of students and to bolster school districts’ student and financial bases. The academy currently provides a complete portfolio of online academic courses for grades 5 through 12 and in the fall of 2004 will expand to include grades 3 and 4. The current and projected courses include all subjects required for graduation, and the academy enables students to earn high school diplomas from their home school districts. Over a two-year period the project has reached 1,632 students across Ohio.
You will find another description of JCESC from a client that is a world wide curriculum provider at their Global Student Network’s Blog: ( It explains in part how JCESC was looking for a way to recoup some of their losses due to public school students leaving their schools and enrolling in statewide e-schools, taking their per pupil funding with them.)
JCESC found its roots in Virtual Education when its superintendent, Mr. Craig Closser, came to the conclusion that too many public school students were leaving public schools and going to charter, private and homeschools. From the public school standpoint, the loss of income from students leaving the system can have a serious detrimental impact on their ability to provide educational services. The students leaving however, continued to cite three common reasons for leaving:
1) Negative school environment
2) The desire to incorporate faith based curriculum in their children’s education and
3) Dissatisfaction with the academic instruction itself.
After discussing his concerns with the Jefferson County Governing Board, the Board approved his establishing one of the first virtual schools in Ohio, and perhaps in the Nation, to partner with the Public Schools to provide online learning. This seven year effort finally started paying dividends in 2003 with the opening of JCESC Virtual Learning Academy. JCESC VLA initially offered 69 courses for grades 3-12. By the 2004-2005 school year, JSESC was being used by over 120 school districts throughout Ohio, with over 2,500 students enrolled. The majority of these students were previously enrolled in Charter, Private or home school programs.
and farther down:
In 2004, JSESC joined their efforts with Global Student Network, LLC (GSN), a U.S. based corporation established to deliver front line educational curriculum services to students attending Homeschool, Charter, Public, Private and International schools. Global Student Network’s owners and staff members are current and former charter and international school founders, administrators, counselors, board members and educators.
Now it appears that they are branching out again, this time in New Mexico, announcing the Mesa Online Academy – Going Where No Public School has Gone Before. Certainly, this is a choice that many looking for a school at home approach may want to pursue, but as with all products being promoted to home educators these days, one needs to do their homework and see what they are purchasing. If one is leaving public school to avoid the national and state standards that seem to grow day by day then one should dig a little deeper and find out if this is a good fit. If one is looking for school at home, then any of these programs might be what you are looking for. The Jefferson County Virtual School’s description reads:
VLA is a robust, online educational delivery system. It offers over 80 full year and semester courses for students in grades 2-12. Each course if fully aligned to Ohio’s Academic Content Standards.
If you are interested in Ohio’s Academic Content Standards that are used for VLA, you can find them here at the Ohio Department of Education’s site.
I have always been extremely cautious whenever a public school offers resources to homeschoolers, but their possibly making a profit off of us purchasing their curriculum seems to be a whole new scanario.
posted by Mary