There is an Illinois issue being watched with caution regarding virtual schools. The language currently used by the Chicago Virtual Charter School is disturbing and unfortunately, not unusual to homeschool advocates across the country.
Here is CVCS‘s description summarization on their website.
The program is not “free”. It is taxpayer funded. It is not an independent homeschool situation. Homeschoolers know that, and I hope families looking into this program understand that. The students will take the required standardized tests and follow the Illinois public school requirements, because the school authorities are (supposed to be) accountable to the taxpayers.
Illinois private school compulsory attendance exemptions allow our homeschooled children to be taught the same public school subjects related to the corresponding grades in whatever style works for our family. As we pay for our materials and activities ourselves, in an extremely direct manner, we are accountable to our children. That seems to work out well.
K12 Inc, lobbies in Illinois and that Virginia-based company was chosen for the Chicago Virtual Charter School curriculum. Some independent homeschoolers use the K12 curriculum privately, but it is not cheap for the families.
Representative Chapa-LaVia, House Elementary and Secondary Education Committee Chair, introduced an Illinois Virtual School Act bill a few years ago that had “home-school” language in it. It wasn’t the first time the bill was introduced. Chapa LaVia is a strong public school advocate supported by the teacher unions. She has done a turnaround on the virtual schools. She is apparently proposing this amendment regarding potential Illinois virtual charter schools.
(l) From April 1, 2013 through April 1, 2016 there shall be a moratorium on the expansion of charter schools with virtual schooling components which includes but is not limited to full-time online virtual schools and virtual blended schools. For the purposes of this subsection (l) virtual blended schools means a virtual school with in-person components.
This amendment seems to be in response to a proposed new venture in the Fox Valley area.
The St. Charles Patch lays some of the issues out.
K12 Virtual Charter School Under Heavy Fire by Illinois Jobs Activist
At a Sunday forum in Geneva, the Illinois Jobs With Justice group will host a Tennessee lawmaker to speak out against K12’s “scheme to siphon funds from 18 public school districts to a for-profit school.”
‘Virtual’ Charter School Wants Tax Dollars From Wheaton, 17 Other Fox Valley Districts
The amount varies by school district, but Schuler estimated that the virtual charter school could collect about $11,000 per student.
Schuler told the Kaneland School Board that if a student enrolls in the charter school and decides to return to the public school, the funding stays with the charter school once it is diverted.
That’s quite a deal for this business if it goes through. Guaranteed public monies even if the client (student) is not satisfied and left the charter. But, if Representative Chapa-LaVia doesn’t want this to go through, I have a strong suspicion this will not go through. Illinois homeschool advocates learned long ago we should always follow the money.
That’s some of the sketchy K12 Inc. connection to homeschooling in Illinois. Back to the Chicago Virtual Charter School, there is an interesting back story to its creation. The tale involves a lawsuit, homeschooling and the Chicago Teachers Union.
I posted this Home Education Magazine News and Commentary article in 2009: “Home schooling is a well-known and established means of education”.
That quote in the header was from a Cook County (Chicago) Circuit Court summary judgment in favor of the Chicago Virtual Charter School (CVCS). Why were they talking about homeschooling in a virtual school judgment? This week, the Chicago Teachers Union lawsuit claiming Chicago Public School/IL State Board of Education authorization illegalities was dismissed. The well financed union claimed that the Chicago Virtual Charter School was actually “home based” homeschooling.
It’s been an ugly row, and somehow the Illinois homeschooling name seemed to be in the middle of this issue. Both of these parties (the Chicago public schools, along with the CTU President, Marilyn Stewart) talked a good bit about “home schooling”.
Below is more information about K12 lobbying and other interesting factoids.