Monday, March 16, 2009

What About Virtual Schooling?

Free Stuff!

        Virtual schooling is a method through which your children receive a public school education at home, graduating with a public school diploma. The main reason people who have decided to homeschool consider virtual schooling instead of independently teaching their children is the lure of freebies! You'll be provided with free curriculum and materials, sometimes even a computer. 


At What Price?

Student academics are less then those of students who attend regular public school (whereas independent home schoolers outperform their peers across the board- in every subject of every grade!). So, basically, you are highly likely to lose the academic advantages of home schooling. But that's not all...

You must use a core curriculum approved by the school. Your child is assigned to a teacher who checks on their work and progress, making sure that he is doing the school-chosen program. You must teach what is provided, and are subject to government oversight and perhaps interviews withs school officials. If you leave virtual schooling to independently home school, you may even be investigated!

Article after article by those who have tried virtual schooling ring out the same message: all the freebies just are NOT worth the control! Families say that things start out seeming great, but over time they're restricted more and more until they decide that it just isn't worth it!

You can check with HSLDA & Home Education Magazine for more information since both have researched them fully. HSLDA even refuses membership from families who have any children enrolled in virtual schooling.

Overall, this method negatively affects the home schooling community, and if used wide-spread it may jeopardize home schooling freedoms in the future!


Hidden Costs & Other Aggravations?


One mom who's tried both "hardcore" home schooling and virtual schooling shares this insight: 
"The schools are free in the sense that you do not a pay any tuition and they do provide you with all of your equipment and even your internet connection, so you are not obligated to spend money on those things. However, they are not well funded nor well liked by the powers-that-be who funnel funds to other schools. Their technical departments are poorly run and generally untrustworthy in so far as they may or may not provide you with equipment and software that functions properly and if you are one of the people who has trouble with what was provided the "help" to get it fixed is likely to end up taking up a great deal of your time and gas and may end up with your child unable to access the school and do any schoolwork online for days or even weeks. I know of quite a few people who continued to use their virtual school of choice and simply paid for all of their own better quality equipment, rather than spending time with "tech support" and with driving in for replacement pieces throughout the year. 
The schools' political struggle to survive and to make itself acceptable to the political powers-that-be within the state's educational system create aggravations and inconveniences such as meetings where parents may be required to come to a session designed to allow the school to lecture the parents of the children who are basically public school dropouts who cannot be controlled but can be lectured with the hope of pressuring them into forcing their children to do better or do anything as apparently there are many in that category who simply do not log on and do any work at all. 

The curriculum is neither demanding nor well-taught as a general rule. As with all schools there are some teachers who are good and some who may even be great and then there are the rest. 
The school's website, in some schools, may be difficult to navigate or otherwise not user-friendly or even unreliable in its functions on an ongoing basis."


Her overall conclusion is supportive of as many choices as possible for schooling options, but she's found "hardcore" home schooling to be far superior to virtual schooling.



Alternatives



Check out all the free and low-priced curriculum that's available before considering the use of virtual schools! I also link to free materials and handy reference websites by subject on my Teacher's Tools page. Also take advantage of public libraries when looking for your books. If they don't have it, you can often find a used copy on Amazon.  

You can also buy curriculum that's used, discounted or even just borrow some from other home schooling families. Get in touch with your local home school group for more ideas and resources! 


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