From the HSLDA E-lert Service:
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Date:
From:
Subject:

1/30/2002 10:37:45 AM
Christopher J. Klicka, Esq., Senior Counsel of HSLDA
Wisconsin Connections Academy: A Trojan Horse

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From the HSLDA E-lert Service...
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January 30, 2002

Dear Wisconsin Members and Friends,

Recently, home school families throughout the state of Wisconsin have
been contacted by Wisconsin Connections Academy (WCA), a proposed
charter school to be operated by the Appleton Area School District.
Appleton has offered for families to "open enroll" with its school
district so they can participate in the WCA program beginning this
fall. (WCA's charter is scheduled to be officially approved in the
next few months by the Appleton School Board.)

Many "freebies" are offered to those home school families who choose
to enroll their children in the WCA: free Calvert home school
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 home schooling families across
the state should beware of the ramifications of this seemingly
harmless program. We want our member families to make an informed
decision regarding participation in WCA.

REASONS TO NOT 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."

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. For those home schoolers who
become dependent on the "free" government equipment and funds, 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 Home
School Legal Defense Association, 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 you use its own secular curriculum or "incorporate" Calvert
curriculum into its program;
- 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."

This is not the free, private home schooling 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 that have recently appeared in
HSLDA's Home School Court Report.

"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.
http://www.hslda.org/elink.asp?ID=320


BACKGROUND INFORMATION

WCA has obtained lists of home schoolers from various vendors and is
systematically contacting home schoolers throughout the state. I
contacted the Department of Public Instruction (DPI), and they stated
they did not and would not release the names of home schoolers to
WCA. DPI has a policy of respecting home schoolers' privacy.

DPI indicated that WCA is holding open-house meetings around the
state over the next few weeks, but DPI is not participating. The
purpose of the meetings is simply to give WCA marketers a platform to
tout the advantages of their program. WCA is not seeking feedback
from home schoolers.

The most effective way for you to express your concern over the WCA
program and all its ramifications is to call the Appleton School
District at 920-832-6126. The Appleton School Board still has to
meet to decide on formally approving the charter of WCA. Possibly, if
enough irate parents from around the state complain about this
proposed charter school, the board will vote it down.

Thank you for your prayerful consideration of this important matter.

Sincerely yours,

Christopher J. Klicka
Senior Counsel

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