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January 9, 2009
Homeschoolers Targeted for Virtual Charter Schools
The superintendent of Laramie County School District No. 1 in Cheyenne, Wyoming, is looking into starting a virtual charter school. According to the Associated Press’s September 18 article “Cheyenne District Seeks Virtual Charter School,” the school would serve youngsters in the district who are currently being homeschooled.
In New Hampshire, k12 released a marketing email setting out the benefits of its virtual charter school. They claim their school provides an exceptional, engaging curriculum, a high-quality—tuition-free—public education, an individualized approach to learning, an active, supportive school community, and passionate—state certified—teachers.
These seemingly warm invitations addressed to homeschool students sound harmless and have attached to them many attractive benefits—a free education, computer, internet access, and curriculum, all to be enjoyed from the comforts of home. However, the hidden sacrifices outweigh these alluring benefits. HSLDA warns its members to beware of virtual charter schools, because the price may be higher than you think.
When parents enroll their children in a virtual charter school, they forfeit much of their parental authority in connection with their children's education. While the children are at home, the parents have little input concerning curriculum. For example, Wyoming Constitution Article 7 § 8 prohibits charter schools from teaching any religious material whatsoever. There are often many other strict requirements, including certified teacher supervision, a fixed schedule, and state testing.
A virtual charter school is really just a small public school set up in the home.
Our commitment at HSLDA is to defend the right of parents to teach their children at home—free from government intervention. When the government provides what may sound like free gifts, beware, because these free gifts often come with strings attached. HSLDA does not provide services to families who enroll their children full time in government-funded schools.
HSLDA strongly encourages homeschool families to carefully consider their decision and all its possible ramifications before enrolling their child in a virtual charter school.
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