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No. 2

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Virtual Academy Angles for High Schoolers

Wisconsin Virtual Academy (WIVA), operated by the Northern Ozaukee School District, has announced that it will be extending its course offerings to include high schoolers. Students can enroll in grades 9 and 10 for the 2007-2008 school year, and WIVA plans to begin adding grades 11-12 in 2008.

WIVA typifies virtual charter schools that are springing up around the country. (See “Nelson turns homeschools into public schools,”.) WIVA offers free curriculum, learning tools (including a computer), internet access, software, communication with certified teachers, and more.

The tradeoff? Children who attend government virtual schools are public school students. Their parents waive certain rights and agree to homeschool according to the public school’s rules. (In fact, in other states with similar virtual school programs, Home School Legal Defense Association has observed that the programs place more and more regulations on participating families each year.) And because public schools are not permitted to teach religious content, all the “free” curricula is completely secular—regardless of a family’s own religious convictions.

Our goal at HSLDA is to help protect the right of parents to privately homeschool—free from government controls and restrictions. Because families who enroll in a virtual charter school program are no longer considered private homeschoolers, they are not eligible for membership in HSLDA.

Virtual charter schools such as WIVA are not the free, private homeschooling that has been so successful for so many years. They are simply an attempt to extend the reach of the public schools into our homes. Before making a decision about enrolling in a virtual charter school, please consider the freedom you will be losing.

— by Christopher J. Klicka