Issues Library—State & Local

Charter Schools


Updated: December 3, 2014

What Is Virtual Public Education?

Virtual public education includes all government-funded online education options, including public school satellite programs and online charter schools.

HSLDA believes that a distinction between homeschooling and online education provided by public schools is vital. We believe that homeschooling means more than simply “learning at home.” To us, a critical part of the definition of homeschooling is that it is private and parent-directed. Children who are taught at home via online public school options are receiving an education that is overseen and funded by the state. Because of this, HSLDA does not provide legal services in connection with students enrolled full-time in online public school programs.

Legislative Concerns

HSLDA also believes that maintaining the distinction between virtual public schooling and homeschooling is crucial for the continued legal success of home education. If in-home public school programs are regarded as “homeschools,” it will be much more difficult for lawmakers to see the differences between them, making it more difficult for private homeschoolers to obtain legal protections. We thus advocate strict adherence to a narrow definition of the word homeschool.

In addition, maintaining the distinction enables the gathering of more precise statistics related to the academic success of students whose education is overseen by their parents, not by a public school.

Practical Concerns

Virtual public schools can be aggressive in targeting homeschoolers, sending multiple mailings and marketing materials to persuade them that this form of public education qualifies as “homeschooling.” In reality, virtual public school administrators are competing with traditional public schools for the thousands of dollars per student in state funds that they receive if they bring more homeschoolers into the public school system.

Children who are enrolled in in-home public school programs must follow all of the programs’ policies and procedures, which include restrictions such as exclusion of religious educational materials as part of the formal curriculum. Attending a virtual public school means accepting the bureaucracy and government supervision that are linked to receiving tax dollars.

 Related HSLDA Articles
RSS


The Common Core and Virtual Public Education
December 12, 2014


Court Report: “How Safe is the Homeschool Horizon?”
May 1, 2007


The Virtual Charter School Experience of One Idaho Family
November 7, 2003
 Additional Reading
RSS


“Online Learning,” The Center for Education Reform


“Online Learning—Virtual Schools/Courses,” Education Commission of the States


Online Schooling Grows, Setting off a Debate
New York Times: February 1, 2008


Virtual Schools, Real Concerns
Christian Science Monitor: May 4, 2004