HSLDA
February 10, 2004

Wisconsin Virtual Academy: A Trojan Horse

The annual pressure to persuade homeschoolers to join the government virtual charter program has begun. Once again, we give you the following information to warn you of the risks involved in changing your homeschool from a private homeschool to a government homeschool. We believe that government cannot outlaw homeschooling, so they are looking to entice homeschoolers back under government control through the virtual charter school program.

Recently, homeschool families throughout the state of Wisconsin have been contacted by Wisconsin Virtual Academy (WIVA), a proposed charter school to be operated by the Northern Ozaukee School District. This school district has offered families "open enrollment" with its school district so they can participate in the WIVA program beginning this fall. Two other virtual charter school programs operate in Wisconsin at this time: the Wisconsin Connections Academy (WCA) and the IQ Academy.

Many "freebies" are offered to those homeschool families who choose to enroll their children in the WIVA: free homeschool curriculum; 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.

On its face, this looks like a good deal. However, Home School Legal Defense Association members and all homeschooling families across the state should understand the ramifications of this seemingly harmless program. We want our member families to make an informed decision regarding participation in WIVA.

REASONS TO NOT ENROLL IN WIVA

HSLDA recommends against enrolling your children in WIVA for the following reasons:

First, if you enroll in this program, you will no longer be considered a private homeschooler, 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 homeschool free from government controls and restrictions. The WIVA is a tax-funded, government program with legitimate government controls and limitations.

Second, the WIVA is a public school. If you enroll your children in WIVA to receive your free curriculum and laptop, your children will no longer be considered private homeschool students, but rather public school students. This means you waive certain parental rights and agree to homeschool 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 homeschooler each year.

If the family does not comply, the "virtual" school will demand return of the computer, curriculum, etc. For those homeschoolers who become dependent on the "free" government equipment and funds, their freedom is gradually exchanged for these "freebies."

Third, HSLDA is opposed to WIVA (and similar "virtual charter schools" appearing in the state and 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 Home School Legal Defense Association, have fought hard to preserve. The government does not offer "free" goodies without obligation.

For example, WIVA will:
- develop personal learning plans for your children;
- assess your children accordingly;
- require you use its own secular curriculum;
- have certified teachers check up on you;
- require all WIVA students to participate in all required state assessments; and
- reduce parents to the role of "learning coach."

This is not the free, private homeschooling that has been so successful all these years. This is simply an attempt by the government to create small public schools in our homes.

ADDITIONAL OBJECTIONS TO VIRTUAL CHARTER SCHOOLS

Before you make a decision about enrolling in this program, please read the articles on charter schools on our web site.

"Charter Schools: The Price is Too High," by Christopher J. Klicka.
http://www.hslda.org/courtreport/V18N1/V18N101.asp

"Charter Schools: Look Before You Leap!" by Roy Hanson
http://www.hslda.org/courtreport/V18N1/V18N102.asp

Also, according to the Akron Beacon Journal, a coalition including the Ohio Federation of Teachers and Buckeye Association of School Administrators have filed a lawsuit challenging the constitutionality of charter schools.