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”.
Virtual charter school can receive public funds Chi Town Daily News June 12, 2009
BY ADRIAN G. URIBARRI
Marilyn Stewart, president of the Chicago Teachers Union, says the difference was not enough to merit public funding. Since students of the virtual school spend most of their time learning at home, she says, they are essentially home-schooled.
“For someone to take public funds to home-school their children is not right,” she says. “It should not be on the backs of a majority of our students who are in our public schools.”
As I read the excerpt below, Judge Riley seems to have made a solid, factual decision based on Illinois charter school statutes:
From a K12 Business Wire:
The judgment ensures the continued lawful operation and funding of CVCS.
The Court concluded that the Plaintiffs arguments fail as a matter of law. The Court determined that CVCS is not a “home-based” school and therefore not in violation of charter school law, and that the school is in full compliance with the Illinois School Code.
In the ruling, the Court emphasized the differences between the model of instruction employed by CVCS and traditional home schooling, stating:
“Home schooling is a well-known and established means of education.While the form of home schools may vary, the underlying substance of the education is decided by a student’s parents.Home schools do not have to teach according to ISBE’s [Illinois State Board of Education’s] mandated curriculum, nor are the students required to take standardized tests to meet the State’s requirements for basic skills improvement.CVCS, however, is required to teach according to the ISBE curriculum.CVCS students must meet the State’s requirements of the No Child Left [Behind] Act.CVCS is subject to fiscal oversight by the ISBE and CBOE [Chicago Board of Education].And, unlike home-schooled students, CVCS students are graded by certified teachers.”
The Chi-Town Daily News quoted the CVCS head:
“There are differences between the way we do education and traditional home schooling,” says Bruce Law, head of the Chicago Virtual Charter School. “On that difference — that’s where we were making our case.”
In this case, it was necessary for them to show that their school is different from homeschooling. K12 is providing the CVCS curriculum, and the Virginia based company is also lobbying in our state capitol for a state-wide virtual school. In 2002, K12’s chair made this case below about his hope that independent homeschoolers would put up and shut up. (Bennett was also the Reagan administration’s Secretary of Education):
How William Bennett’s Public E-Schools Affect Homeschooling-Larry and Susan Kaseman
The major differences between Bennett’s goals and those of most homeschoolers can be seen clearly in Bennett’s comments during an interview by Mark Standriff on WSPD radio in Toledo, Ohio, August 16, 2002.
Standriff: What kind of opposition have you folks found?
Bennett: We found opposition from both sides of the political spectrum. Some of the homeschooling people have opposed us.
Standriff: Oh really, I would think this would be right in line with their thinking.
Bennett: Well it should be. Frankly, I’m disappointed. I’ve been defending homeschoolers for twenty years. But the principle I’m defending, Mark, is school choice, parental choice. The objection they have is that it shouldn’t be involved in public funding, at all. It shouldn’t be involved with government schools, as they say. But, I’m not prepared to relinquish $400 billion and just say, well never mind, this is not money that I’m entitled to. Parents are paying that money in taxes, they should have an option within the public school system that gives them a chance to educate their children at home, but be publicly accountable as all public schools should be.
The Chicago Public Schools attorney had this explanation in a 2006 Chicago Tribune article about the Chicago Virtual approval:
Illinois law states that charter schools must be “non-home based,” which the teacher’s union argued would restrict the state from approving the virtual school. State Supt. Randy Dunn recommended the board deny the virtual school’s application based on the law’s language. But board members and proponents of the virtual school said that charter school laws enacted in the 1990s did not anticipate the growth of technology that has made virtual schools possible. Rocks, the attorney for Chicago Public Schools, said the restrictions on”home-based” charter schools mushroomed from concerns that home schools were trying to become charter schools simply to get public dollars. He presented letters from state lawmakers who voted on Illinois’ charter school law, and said their intent was not to block Internet-based schooling.
The legislators might have been been worried that Illinois homeschoolers were looking at public monies, but I have seen little evidence of that.
The union voice from Ms. Stewart is harsh. Chi-Town Daily News: Teachers union pans virtual classroom plan July 17, 2006
BY JENNIFER KOONS
“For them to think they can address the social and emotional issues of a child without being in the same room as that child is ludicrous,” Stewart said. “You can only adequately address these issues in a classroom where you have necessary peer support and peer interaction.”
Stewart expressed concern about a lack of interaction between students and educators.
“Qualified teachers are only providing 20 percent of the lessons,” Stewart said. “Who are the certified professionals who will supervising the students when they are off-line?”
She wasn’t done there. The Southwest News Herald had a 2006 article (not available online) quoting her union concerns about children learning at home via the Chicago Virtual Charter School:
“How are students to model behavior with a computer screen,” said Stewart.
They’re in their home, dear. The 8 year olds don’t need to model their behavior after the 8 year old in the next door desk.
But everything, including grading, she said, is being done virtually. And Stewart is unhappy that there is “no direct supervision.”
What, Stewart asked, if there are three or four children in a household enrolled in the virtual school? Are there going to be three or four parents watching the children?
“And who are these parents or guardians that are helping the children — their grandparent who barely speaks English, or a work-at-home parent?” asked Stewart.
She loves parents….I was feeling that.
That “S” word doesn’t seem to go away. Socializing is a bit different than School Socialization. Apparently, the Chicago Virtual families chose getting together in their community, as opposed to the same room as folks like Marilyn Stewart.