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Nelson Turns Homeschools into Public Schools

Homeschooling in Virginia is strong and flourishing because there is tremendous freedom. But as more and more parents choose to teach their children at home, the movement is attracting the attention of the public school system. The fewer the children who attend public school, the less per-pupil funding the school system receives. This may explain why Nelson County Public Schools has developed a program to convert homeschools into tiny public schools at home.

If you join Nelson County’s new Nelson Academy of Virtual Learning (NAVL), the public school system will receive thousands of dollars in taxpayer money. They will ship part of this off to the corporation that is partnering with them, and part they will keep for their own purposes. During fiscal year 2005, Nelson County received $5,065 per pupil in state and federal money. (See the Department of Education’s financial support and expenditures data for 2004-05.)

Nelson Academy’s target is you—the free, independent homeschooling families of Virginia. Their bait? Free books and teacher assistance. And if they’re anything like virtual schools in other states, they will eventually try to tempt you with free computers, internet access, and musical instruments. If you take the bait, your children will automatically become public school students, and your right to control their education will vanish.

In the recent case Fields v. Palmdale, the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals said, “[P]arents have no . . . right . . . to override the determinations of public schools as to the information to which their children will be exposed while enrolled as students” (427 F.3d 1197 [9th Cir. 2005]). Sadly, case law around the United States supports this decision. If your child enrolls in NAVL, thus becoming a public school student, the public school system will have full power to decide what information your child is exposed to.

You should also be aware that public school students—including those who become public school students by enrolling in NAVL—are not eligible for membership in Home School Legal Defense Association.

If the pattern we have seen in other states repeats itself in Virginia, NAVL or another public-school-at-home program will ramp up recruitment efforts to draw as many homeschooled students as possible into their program. You will face a choice: free stuff—or a free way of life. We urge you to choose a free way of life.

Read more about charter schools in Christopher Klicka’s May/June 2004 Court Report article, “WIVA: A Trojan Horse.”

— by Scott A. Woodruff