Monday, April 9, 2007

E-Schools: Why Not?

A Washington homeschooler writes:

I got this letter in the mail about Washington Virtual Academy. I found it interesting. Here's the website.

I was thinking about checking into it, but then found this article.

What do you think about the e-school program? In some ways, I was thinking it would be nice to take advantage of some of those tax dollars that I'm paying anyway, but according to this guy he was worried that it would lead to more government regulation of home-schoolers. Washington State, as far as I understand it, is the best state to home-school in, I definitely don't want to do something that would lead to more regulation.What is your opinion on this? Thanks!

What a great question! This issue is one that many homeschoolers don't know about. Here's how I responded to her:

I'm so glad you checked out that HEM article. They are right on the money, and they're writing about a private eSchool. The link you sent me is for a public eSchool, which is even worse. When you sign up for a program like that, you're putting you and your family under the supervision of your state's educational bureaucracy.

I lifted this off that site:

Although parents play the leading role in day-to-day lesson delivery, assessments, and time management, they are never alone in the education process. In fact, at WAVA, they interact with teachers on a regular basis, learning to navigate teaching techniques, pacing issues, comprehension challenges, positive reinforcement techniques, and other facets of the instruction experience.

Expect your teacher to be a consistent presence.

You can be sure of receiving a lot of attention on a weekly and monthly basis. In fact, you're certain to interact with your teacher on a regular basis during:

Monthly progress meetings
Parent/teacher workshops
Teacher-guided outings

My alarm bells go off when I read something like that. The way I translate that is, "We will be watching you very closely." That means if you deviate from their program, if you leave something out because it is not in line with your family's values, they will know it and you will be called on it.

That "attention" they're offering also gives them access to your family life, and if they don't like something they see there, something we might consider perfectly fine but that they disagree with (say, a toddler who still nurses or a child who mentions having been spanked), you've got trouble.

Also, the link to the HEM/Kaseman article re Bill Bennett's K-12 program led me to find this link.

That whole group of comments will help you sort this out, but Mary Nix's post is particularly helpful in explaining that there are two ways to use the K-12 one, you're a homeschooler and in the other, you're a public schooler learning at home.


unschooler said...

Hmmmm. I'm glad I found this. I have been counting the years until we would be able to use our state's virtual classes thinking that it would be a good thing to shake up our homeschooling routine and bolster our learning. I may have to think twice about that now.
Great info.

Lori said...

There is an alternative to WAVA. Columbia Virtual Academy is both an online academy and a homeschool support program that offers personalization and flexibility--so much you, you won't believe it! CVA is non-intrusive, truly respectful of the parent-educator. You can use the curriculum of your choice. check out for more info.

Barbara Frank said...

Unschooler---so glad you stopped by!

Lori--thanks for sharing that link. Parents need to be aware of what's out there. CVA does appear to be linked to the public school system in Washington state, however, so interested parents should check it out thoroughly before getting involved.