As the numbers of homeschoolers grow every year, the public school system has been trying to come up with new ways to retain those students they would lose to this form of education. The current trend to entice would-be homeschoolers to remain with the public school system is a new entity called “Virtual School”, but is it homeschooling?
First, what is a “Virtual School”? The public school system often tells parents that they would be “homeschooling” their child but that the school system would provide all of the materials for the child’s education. They would provide the books, decide the curriculum, offer “help”, and may even provide a computer. The parent would still oversee the child and insure that they complete the assignments, access any difficulties that arise, and then insure all is turned into the correct person. If there are difficulties noted, a “certified teacher” assigned to the family would help modify the program for the child’s needs. She would also access the progress of the child, how the program is working, and if the child is meeting the state and local school district guidelines for public school students.
What they do not tell parents right away is that they are NOT homeschoolers. They do not file a Notice of Intent stating they will follow the laws that govern homeschoolers. They are not responsible for choosing the program for the child. They do not have complete freedom to modify or even change programs, if it was needed in the interest of what is best for the child. If this method is utilized through graduation, the parent is not responsible for issuing the diploma nor do they set what is required for graduation.
Where does that leave us? A child in this situation is a “Virtual Public School Student”. They are like a homebound student of the public school system. However, instead of a teacher coming to the house with the assignments, the child is given them via the internet, with a teacher reviewing the process every few weeks. They are enrolled in the public school system that is offering this “Virtual School”. They ARE doing public school at home.
Does that mean this is not a viable option for education? No. I can see this being a very helpful form of education. Perhaps a parent loves the education available in the public school system but they have a child with severe health issues. This would be a great option for them.
Remember, it is ultimately the parent who chooses what is best for their family and their child. If that is “Virtual School”, that is fine, as long as there is an understanding what it actually is and not describing it as something it is not. It is not homeschooling.
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Written by: Susan Harris
Homeschool.com News Editor