"Freebies" replace freedom
A proposed charter school to be operated by the Appleton Area School District is offering home schooling families across the state "free benefits" if they will "open enroll" their children with the district. Slated for an official vote by the Appleton School Board in the next few months, Wisconsin Connections Academy (WCA) is expected to open its doors this fall.
"Freebies" offered to enrollees include a choice between two free curricula; learning tools (including a laptop computer); access to the Internet; software; access to certified teachers; and more. Of course, all the materials are secular in nature.
Although WCA enrollment looks like a good deal on its face, Home School Legal Defense Association urges our members and other home schooling families to beware of the ramifications of this seemingly harmless program and make an informed decision regarding participation.
Reasons not to enroll in WCA
HSLDA recommends against enrolling your children in WCA for the following reasons:
First, if you enroll in this program, you will no longer be considered a private home schooler, and you will not be eligible for membership in the Home School Legal Defense Association. Our goal at HSLDA is to work to protect the right of parents to privately home school free from government controls and restrictions. The WCA is a tax-funded, government program with legitimate government controls and limitations.
Second, the WCA is a public school. On the WCA's website, under "Frequently Asked Questions," a subtitle asks, "What exactly is Wisconsin Connections Academy?" The answer: "Wisconsin Connections Academy is a new kind of public school." The website further states that "charter schools are established to give parents a choice in public education for their child" (emphasis added).
If you enroll your children in the WCA to receive your free curriculum and laptop, your children will no longer be considered private home school students, but rather public school students. This means you waive certain parental rights and agree to home school according to the public school's rules. In other states with similar "virtual" charter school programs, HSLDA has observed that more and more regulations are gradually placed on the home schooler each year. If the family does not comply, the "virtual" school will demand return of the computer, curriculum, etc. Home schoolers who become dependent on "free" government equipment and funds find that their freedom is gradually exchanged for these "freebies."
Third, HSLDA is opposed to WCA (and similar "virtual charter schools" appearing around the country) because when you enroll in such a program, you waive the rights that many people in your state, including Wisconsin Christian Home Educators Association and HSLDA, have fought hard to preserve. The government does not offer "free" goodies without obligation.
For example, WCA will:develop personal learning plans for your children;
assess your children accordingly;
require that you use either Appleton's own public school curriculum or an Appleton-selected home school correspondence curriculum;
have certified teachers check up on you;
require all WCA students to participate in all required state assessments; and
reduce parents to the role of "learning coach . . . consulting frequently with the [WCA] teachers." Their website continues by explaining that WCA offers "training and support to help 'learning coaches' carry out their important role."
Wisconsin Connections Academy enrollment is not the free, private home schooling that has been so successful for many years. It is simply a government attempt to create small public schools in our homes.
- Christopher J. Klicka