A new virtual school is being introduced into the Newport News public schools. They’re hopeful about new customers coming into their “family”.
From Hampton Roads and the Daily Press
Newport News schools offering new online learning program By Sarah J. Pawlowski
The goal is to give parents another option if they don’t feel their child is best served in a classroom setting, according to James Maxlow, the division’s supervisor of instructional technology.
They also hope to welcome about 400 home-school families into the division.
“We wanted an option to bring them into the Newport News family,” Maxlow said.
Virtual learning students will be able to participate in the division’s clubs and activities, which is not an option for current home-schooled students, he said.
But this “Newport News family” doesn’t allow for unconditional love. Public virtual school students may participate in school clubs and activities. Virginia homeschoolers cannot. Proposals for a “Tebow Bill” are contested by the Virginia Parent Teacher Association, the Virginia Education Association, the Virginia High School League and the Virginia Association of School Superintendents. These are powerful lobbying groups comprising part of the school family unit.
Following that and following up on the post earlier this week on the confusion around the new Ohio homeschool/public school participation rules, a Journal News article popped up from southwestern Ohio. Apparently – in contrast to Virginia – the new Ohio law excludes public virtual school students, but includes homeschoolers and other private schools.
Local home-school families pleased with new law
By Hannah Poturalski
Alicia Elam, president of the Southern Ohio Homeschool Organization, said her agency has 3,000 members from a multi-county region — including about 400 to 500 home-schooled students from Butler and Warren counties. She said her membership is pleased with the new legislation.
“Home-school students are going to be able to participate and go for scholarships and be seen by scouts,” Elam said. “We didn’t have the opportunity.”
Elam said she’s concerned that students enrolled at virtual schools are excluded from the bill because they are considered “school at home” students who are provided a teacher, computer and curriculum. Elam said she’s been told it was an “inadvertent oversight.”
But the kids in the Ohio public virtual schools are “school at home” students with accountability to the public schools, rather than individual family standards and requirements. Following the lawmakers and other interested parties’ desires and decisions, this Tebow Law trend seems upside down and inside out.
Homeschoolers are a desired crowd to bring into the public schools. Even as we like to point out we’re saving taxpayers money. But yet, in Wisconsin, as in Newport News, a school district is in the process of starting up a virtual school with the focus on bringing in homeschoolers.
From WKBT in LaCrosse
Westby school district surveys homeschool parents
The Westby school district is trying to learn why parents homeschool their kids or choose open enrollment. Officials also want to see if they can help.
The school sent out a survey to those parents. Initial results showed parents usually opt out of public schools for geographic and personal reasons. However, there is interest in partnering with the school for advanced placement courses and extracurricular activities.
Taking the liberty of quoting Ronald Reagan – ”The nine most terrifying words in the English language are: ‘I’m from the government and I’m here to help.’ The Wisconsin Parents Association studied the virtual charter school issue in their state and here is some of the angst with these public school programs:
Specific concerns include the following:
• Such programs will be unlikely to deliver the curriculum choices, including religiously based curriculum, and some other features they are claiming to offer.
• These programs appear to be motivated more by money for school districts than by education. They are likely to be challenged on questions of (1) spending taxpayers’ money without adequate accountability, (2) running a public school program without much involvement of certified teachers, and (3) violating the First Amendment principle of separation of church and state.
• If it is determined that such programs are illegal, students may not receive the public school credits and diplomas they were expecting.
• Because these are public school programs, participating families are regulated by the government. Former homeschoolers who enroll will surrender important freedoms. They will be required to have their curriculum reviewed and approved by the school district, report regularly to the school district on their children’s progress, take tests chosen by the state and the local school district, and, overall, comply with public school standards and approaches to education, even if they do not agree with them.
• Such programs are not homeschools. (Homeschooling parents take direct responsibility for their children’s educations and do not turn them over to the public schools.) However, because such programs are public schools which allow students to study at home and therefore some people incorrectly assume they are homeschools, legislation to increase regulation of these programs may also lead to increased regulation of homeschools. In this way, such programs threaten the freedom of all homeschoolers in Wisconsin.
In North Carolina and most, if not all states, homeschoolers create their own activities, as modeled in Wilmington.
No shortage of activities - Wilma on the Web By Amanda Thames
But if a child isn’t in a public school environment where the school readily offers after-school classes and sports, how do parents with home-schooled children find extracurricular activities?
One solution for Wilmington area parents has been to create their own.
Homeschooler Dory Schoonmaker comments on the success for her sons:
“My sons have been able to experience even more extracurricular activities and sports now that they’re not in a classroom every day,” Schoonmaker says.
There have been a few times Schoonmaker tried to find a class or group online that her kids requested, but there wasn’t a group yet. In these cases, she creates the group herself and reaches out on these boards to other parents to have their kids join, too.
There are also area businesses that cater directly to home-schooled children.
Many businesses pay attention to homeschool needs and set their hours accordingly. YMCAs, park districts, tutoring services, dance and taekwondo academies and other companies want these customers, knowing dissatisfied patrons could walk out without looking back. Participating in a public school – even a virtual school – causes more twist and turns making sure everything is dotted and crossed correctly. Because, as shown above, your family will be under the watchful eye of the public school system.