"I know no safe depository of the ultimate powers of the society but the people themselves; and if we think them not enlightened enough to exercise their control with a wholesome discretion, the remedy is not to take it from them, but to inform their discretion by education. This is the true corrective of abuses of constitutional power." - Thomas Jefferson 1820

"There is a growing technology of testing that permits us now to do in nanoseconds things that we shouldn't be doing at all." - Dr. Gerald Bracey author of Rotten Apples in Education

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Friday, June 3, 2011

Why Would Homeschoolers Want to Enroll in a Public Education Virtual School?

The Mehlville School District is offering virtual school courses to homeschoolers:

He might not be selling ice to Alaskans, but Mark Catalana's job is no easy task.

He's trying to convince parents of home-schooled children to send their kids to the Mehlville School District.

But Catalana's offering something a little different: the ability to attend Mehlville without leaving home.

It's called the Virtual Program.

"It's distance learning with an online curriculum," said Catalana, director of alternate programs for the Mehlville School District.

Why is the district reaching out to a segment of students whose parents aren't particularly interested in what public education has to offer? Why would homeschooling parents want to give up the autonomy of educating their children with curriculum that is indeed "parent approved" and the fact that homeschoolers, as a whole, outperform publicly educated students in testing results?

The district believes some of the advantages of enrolling in the program are benefits such as earning a standard high school diploma and the ability to join in school activities such as clubs and social events. Sports, however, are out. The Missouri State High School Activities Association (MSHSAA) prohibits athletes from enrolling in distance learning programs.

The spokesman stated adding home-schoolers has a negligible financial impact on the district, given the small number of students involved in the Virtual Program. What he didn't state was enrolling homeschooling students in a virtual program would garner the district more money as it is paid per student. So, more homeschoolers enrolled in the Virtual Program means more money for the district.

Allowing them to play sports, however, would cost the district money, and there isn't an offset revenue generator for this extra expense. Clubs and social events don't cost much money, but playing sports does. Even though you may homeschool and you are paying taxes for a service you aren't using (or maybe you are through virtual school), your child can't play high school sports if he/she doesn't attend the brick and mortar public school building.

The offering of Virtual School seems as if it is a money making generator for the district which cedes control of homeschooling curriculum and autonomy to the district with no real added benefit to the homeschooled student. Social clubs and outings exist within the homeschooling community, so the draw to mingle with students they don't know in a large school may not hold much appeal. Virtual schooling allows students to study when they want and work on their own pace. From what I know about homeschooling, that's how it operates now without the added component of governmental intrusion.

It will be interesting to see if Mehlville will enroll many homeschoolers in the program. As of now:

Whether such positive endorsements are enough to draw interest from home-schoolers remains to be seen. Catalana has yet to sign up a student, but outreach efforts have just started.


  1. If it's a public school, then kids are still in the teach to the test mode. Parents nationwide are complaining about over testing. This program does not answer parent concerns.

  2. As a homeschooler, the only advantage I can see is free curriculum, but the disadvantages (no choice, questionable text, teaching to the test, no allowances for special needs, being put in the system) far outweigh the money savings.

  3. Speaking as a homeschooler in this district, I can promise you that "we" are not interested in the system, regardless of how much lipstick it wears.

  4. Creative, gotta give 'em that, however, it won't work. Why would any intelligent human being successfully homeschooling their own child cede control of the curriculum back to the government school? Makes no sense!


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