Across the States
What is the Virtue of Virtual Schools?
Home School Legal Defense Association Staff Attorney Michael Donnelly was invited recently to discuss the difference between homeschools and virtual schools at the Parents Advocating Teaching at Home Support Group in northern Ohio. The group was concerned that virtual schools are public schools, and how it might impact their group to include public school students, even if these students learn at home.
In Ohio, a number of public programs operate as virtual schools with 10,000 to 20,000 students enrolled. These programs require students to use state-approved curriculum, to log a certain number of hours as present, and to have a teacher physically view them at least four times per year. Such programs relegate parents to the role of “learning coach.”
Donnelly explained that families who enroll all of their children in any public school program (virtual or not) or full time in any private school, other than “08 private schools” in the home under Ohio Administrative Code (OAC) 3301-35-08, are not homeschooling. Homeschooling is governed by OAC 3301-34. Families who have at least one child who is being educated under this regulation may qualify for membership with HSLDA.
HSLDA believes that for parents of public school children, enrolling in a virtual
public school can be a step in the right direction. While these parents have more influence with their children in a home setting and can be more actively involved in the learning process, HSLDA believes that parents who are the primary teachers of their children without any state involvement are the most effective.
Virtual public schools are in their early phase of adoption in the Buckeye State, and the traditional educational establishment is fighting to have control and influence over these schools. Our experience in other states shows that regulations and government interference increase over time. We expect that Ohio will be no different, and we encourage parents to carefully consider the strings that come with enrolling in any virtual public program, whether part- or full-time.
— by Michael P. Donnelly