Wednesday, August 21, 2002

My K12 Kid

While I was on vacation there was some debate about cyber charter schools versus homeschooling. I am one of the parents that Joanne Jacobs talked about. I am willing to try having my children learn at home with the help of an online charter school. I have more control over what they are learning, but I can also use a high-quality pre-packaged curriculum. I have more control over the curriculum than at the private school my son used to attend, but I do not have to take the time to actually plan each lesson.

Of course, I have no idea how well our family will do with the K12 program. I am very excited about the flexibility and the individualized attention that my son will receive. Michael and I plan to split up the teaching time.

I understand why homeschoolers like Daryl Cobranchi are wary of programs like K12. And I have no doubt that the public school establishment will keep trying to regulate homeschoolers. California’s recent attack is a case in point.

However, as long as the programs remain voluntary, I see them as similar to joining a homeowner’s association. (Which I would probably never join.) The parent accepts the restrictions as part of the package because they are benefiting from the public charter school. I think there is a clear distinction between a “virtual school" and a homeschool. Virtual implies that someone offsite is directing the learning process. It would be nice if the education establishment and the press would select language choices that uphold the integrity of that distinction. But as long as virtual schooling is one option among many schooling arrangements and homeschooling maintains its own identity as an option apart from virtual charter schools and free from their regulations; they can both peacefully coexist. The bottom line is that homeschoolers have to be ever vigilant against regulations that constrain their freedom.

In California, K12 has partnered with the California Virtual Academy. I found some of the enrollment requirements to be silly. Parents must file emergency release forms for medical treatment and emergency contact forms—even though the children are never leaving their own homes. And if the children are entering public school for the first time, they have to have a TB test within 12 months. In my son’s case, he had a TB test before he entered Kindergarten at his private school, but it was not within the 12-month window. And the children must also have a valid health assessment within twelve months. I’m happy to report that Jacob is healthy enough to participate in the K12 virtual school—he still has 20/20 vision and he can still hear.

No comments: