by Amy Tjaden News Editor


Yesterday we took a brief look at charter schools. Today we will look at virtual schools. In many cases, charter schools are available as virtual schools. Such is the case with Connections Academy.


Connections Academy is available in quite a few states and is tuition free because it is a public school. Its selling point, like other virtual schools, is that it provides a free K-12 education outside the walls of a traditional classroom.


These virtual academies are rapidly growing, popping up in communities all over the US. As with charter schools, I believe the reason for this is that the public schools are scrambling to keep up their numbers. Homeschooling is on the rise. As families pull their kids from the public school system, the system is trying to find ways to keep them in.


I read a description of virtual schools somewhere in which the author said they are like a hybrid of public, charter and homeschooling. Whatever the case may be, virtual schools are still public run schools.


As with charter schools, virtual schools choose the curriculum. There is another authority, other than the parent, dictating what and how you are to teach your child. For that reason, I am uncomfortable with the idea of a virtual school.


Having said that, I can totally see why many families would turn to virtual schools. Being enrolled in a virtual program allows for more time together as a family, which is a top reason for homeschooling. However, the lesson planning is done for you. The student simply has to complete the work. There is that comfort of belonging to an accredited program and knowing transcripts are being kept.


In our community, there are homeschool groups that will deny membership to any family that has their children enrolled in a charter or virtual school program. The reasoning is that children in those programs are not actually homeschooled. I guess this depends on how you define homeschooling.


The reality is that most children in these programs are not in a public school classroom all day. I find it sad that when they reach out for support and involvement with a homeschool group they are rejected simply for not homeschooling in an “approved” manner.


Next time I’ll look at the Charlotte Mason method of homeschooling.


Copyright 2009

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