From the HSLDA E-lert Service:
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Date:
From:
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5/22/2002 5:37:39 PM
Christopher J. Klicka, Esq., Senior Counsel of HSLDA
Idaho--Virtual Academy A Trojan Horse

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From the HSLDA E-lert Service...
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May 22, 2002

Dear HSLDA Members and Friends,

Recently, home school families throughout the state of Idaho have
been contacted by Idaho Virtual Academy (IDVA), a proposed charter
school to be operated by the Butte County School District. Butte has
offered for families to "open enroll" with its school district so
they can participate in the IDVA program beginning this fall.

Many "freebies" are offered to those home school families who choose
to enroll their children in the IDVA: free curriculum; a computer
system, printer, and internet connection at no cost; all
instructional materials including "textbooks, workbooks, planning and
progress tools, maps, math and science supplies, CDs, and videos";
access to certified teachers; and "optional educational outings."

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 IDVA.

REASONS TO NOT ENROLL IN IDVA

HSLDA recommends against enrolling your children in IDVA 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 IDVA is a
tax-funded, government program with legitimate government controls
and limitations.

Second, the IDVA is a public school. On the IDVA's website, under
"Frequently Asked Questions," a subtitle asks, "Is this home
schooling?" The answer: "The Idaho Virtual Academy is a public
charter school. It is not home schooling." Religious families should
be especially wary. IDVA's website states: "Since ours is a public
school, religious instruction is not part of the school's curriculum
and cannot count for school credit."

If you enroll your children in the IDVA to receive your free
curriculum and computer, 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 family each year. If the
family does not comply, the "virtual" school will demand return of
the computer, curriculum, etc. For those families who become
dependent on the "free" government equipment and funds, their freedom
is gradually exchanged for these "freebies."

Third, HSLDA is opposed to IDVA (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 Idaho Coalition of Home Educators, Christian Homeschoolers
of Idaho State and Home School Legal Defense Association, have fought
hard to preserve. The government does not offer "free" goodies
without obligation.

For example, IDVA will:

- develop personal learning plans for your children;
- assess your children accordingly;
- require you use its own secular curriculum or "incorporate" K12
curriculum into its program;
- have certified teachers check up on you;
- require all IDVA students to participate in all required state
assessments; and
- reduce parents to the role of a learning coach, consulting
frequently with the IDVA teachers. IDVA, on its website, states that
teacher's review student's work on a daily basis.

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/elink.asp?ID=435

"Charter Schools: Look Before You Leap!" by Roy Hanson
http://www.hslda.org/elink.asp?ID=436

BACKGROUND INFORMATION

IDVA has obtained lists of home schoolers from various vendors and is
systematically contacting home schoolers throughout the state. IDVA
is holding open-house meetings around the state over the next few
weeks. The purpose of the meetings is simply to give IDVA marketers a
platform to tout the advantages of their program. IDVA is not seeking
feedback from home schoolers.

The most effective way for you to express your concern over the IDVA
program and all its ramifications is to call the Butte School
District at 208-527-8235. The Butte School Board still has to meet to
decide on formally approving the charter of IDVA. 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
HSLDA Senior Counsel

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