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June 11, 2012

Virtual Charter School: “School at Home” not Necessarily Homeschooling


Staff Attorney Mike Donnelly answers questions and assists members regarding legal issues in Ohio. He and his wife homeschool. Read more >>

An increasing number of Ohio families are seeking membership with HSLDA after dissatisfying experiences with Ohio virtual charter schools. Even though children enrolled in these online schools appeared to enjoy the benefits of learning at home along with the perks of free curriculum and technology, many parents are becoming dissatisfied with the overall experience.

Administrative hassles, rigid schedules, and a lack of parental involvement are among the numerous reasons cited by families who are ditching these publicly funded schools to return to or begin privately educating their children at home under their direct supervision and tutelage.

One homeschool mom told HSLDA that she chose to enroll her children in Connections Academy (a virtual charter school) because of the attractive benefits including a free computer. However, it did not take long for her to realize that the rigid schedule and course assignments were not age-appropriate. She was also very unhappy about the amount of “screen time” her children were required to log. Studies have shown that there are health problems associated with too much time in front of the computer.

Other families expressed similar concerns about the curriculum choices. They told us that they were not permitted to choose a curriculum that taught their families values but rather had to teach the secular curriculum of the public school.

Although there may appear to be some similarities, particularly as to where the instruction takes place, i.e. in the home, HSLDA sees homeschooling as a distinct educational approach in contrast to enrolling in an online public school. Homeschooling enables parents to have much more influence on their children’s education.

Publicly funded virtual charter schools are really just “schools at home” and parents are simply “monitors or learning coaches.” In these schools the government is in the driver’s seat—parents are just along for the ride. HSLDA encourages parents to count the cost before enrolling in “free” publicly funded virtual charter schools.

 Other Resources

See our Issues Library entry regarding online virtual charter schools.