Connections Academy, Epic, K12….all of these virtual public school programs are often confused with ‘homeschooling.’ Today we’re going to answer some of the most common questions that we hear. Each student has different needs, and these options might be the right fit for you family, but they’re not actually homeschooling…
If we’re ‘at home,’ isn’t it homeschool?
- Homeschools are parent-directed and privately-funded.
- Homeschool families are responsible for providing the curriculum and instruction. There are no funds set aside for homeschoolers, and they are usually restricted from participating in public school activities. Curriculum and activities are paid for by the family. At the Book Shack, we strive to help families ease that burden through our resource room.
- Parents have the freedom to choose curriculum and resources that match their worldview. They decide how to plan education and track records. (Some states also require parents to keep records, complete testing and / or portfolio review, and take standardized tests. Oklahoma currently does not.)
- On the flipside, there are also no government regulations (in the state of Oklahoma).
- Virtual schools are government-directed and publicly-funded.
- Virtual school programs provide the curriculum, instruction, and access to extracurriculars at no expense to the family. Teachers are usually state-certified, and parents do not play an instructional role. This is “public school done at home.”
- Students must comply with state standards for testing, as well as all other laws applicable to school-age students (eg, vaccinations).
- The virtual schooling program must be completed at / by a certain time and in a particular order. There is no time for student-directed ‘bunny trails.’ A minimum amount of ‘seat time’ must also be spent for each class.
- Virtual public schools are free, as in they are paid for by tax dollars. Like brick and mortar public schools, however, there are still extra fees that come up. The price of a ‘free education,’ however, is the freedom to choose how to educate your student.
If I use virtual schooling, and want to call myself a homeschooler, why do you care?
- Because the rights and freedoms of homeschools are different from ‘traditional’ schools, it is important to maintain a distinction. Each state has their own legal requirements.
- The Home School Legal Defense Association (HSLDA) maintains a position that to confuse the two groups will eventually erode protections that homeschool families currently have, and fought hard to receive. These rights, such as freedom to choose our own curriculum, were hard-won by previous generations of homeschool families, and we would be remiss to let them slip away.
How does the Book Shack & Homeschool House feel about virtual public schooling?
- The Book Shack does not offer resources to families who are using virtual public schooling, as their materials are already covered by the state.
- The Homeschool House does offer its space and classes to virtual public school families. This is a community effort to bring together all children who are schooling at home.