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August 31, 2006

Reasons to Not Enroll in the Wyoming Virtual School

The Wyoming Virtual School claims to combine “the best of home-based education with the support and accountability of a regular public school.” Home School Legal Defense Association respectfully disagrees. The best parts of homeschooling are faith and freedom, which no government-funded program can provide. Here are three reasons why we urge our Wyoming members to “just say no” to public school at home:

  1. The Wyoming Virtual School is a public school, subject to the restrictions of the Wyoming Constitution. Article VII, section 8 prohibits “any portion of any public school fund” from ever being used “to support or assist any private school, or any school, academy, seminary, college or other institution of learning controlled by any church or sectarian organization or religious denomination whatsoever.”

  2. As soon as a child receives some portion of the Wyoming school fund, the program that provides the funding must constantly guard against violating the Wyoming Constitution. In other states with similar “virtual school” programs, HSLDA has observed that more and more regulations are gradually placed on the enrolled homeschooling family each year. If the family does not comply with the regulations, the “virtual” school administrators believe they have to demand return of the computer, curriculum, etc., or they lose their funding.

  3. HSLDA defends liberty for citizens who assert it, but we are unable to help parents who voluntarily trade their family freedom for government benefits. We therefore must terminate the membership of any family that ceases to homeschool by enrolling in a public school program of this sort.

The Wyoming Virtual School, to its credit, never claims to be the free, private homeschooling that has been so successful for many years. The enrollment form clearly states the “strings” that are attached:

  • I understand that by submission of this form I am requesting to enroll my student in a public school with attendance requirements of 26.5 hours per week for grades K-6. Attendance hours must be supervised by the primary teaching adult including online and offline educational activities.

  • I understand that public school enrollment includes participation in the required state testing program in addition to school testing requirements.

  • I will follow the guidance and support of a certified teacher in implementing the K12 program with my student.

  • I understand that regular attendance and progress is a requirement of WYVS and that I will be responsible for logging accurate attendance and progress daily.

  • I understand that WYVS is a full-time public school and that my student may not be enrolled or participate in any other public school or public school activities.

  • I understand failure to comply with any school policy may result in my student's voluntary withdrawal from WYVS.

These requirements may be acceptable to parents who are used to public school restrictions, but not to freedom-loving families. It clearly represents itself as a “public school option,” and it may well be a big step forward for children who feel trapped in traditional schools. For free and independent homeschoolers, however, it is a step in the wrong direction.

Additional Resources on Virtual Public Schools

For more information on similar programs, please read the articles on virtual public schools that have recently appeared in HSLDA’s Home School Court Report and on our website, including: "Charter Schools: The Price is Too High" by Christopher J. Klicka.