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April 11, 2007

Missouri Virtual Instruction Program: Ticket to Mediocrity

Homeschooling is so successful that the State of Missouri wants to do it—but without the parents.

A representative of the Missouri Department of Elementary and Secondary Education’s “Virtual Instruction Program” was recently at a homeschool conference in St. Louis handing out a leaflet touting the state’s new public school at home program. The leaflet was less than candid.

The leaflet was entitled “Free Course Curriculum opportunity.” The courses are “free” in the same way that government services are usually “free.” You, the taxpayer, pay for them.

The flyer breathlessly warned parents they would have only a three-week opportunity in May to sign up, creating the impression that you would be missing out on something really good if you waited. Don’t be fooled. Public school at home programs are an educational flop.

For example, according to statistics available to the public, students in Idaho enrolled in one of that state’s four virtual schools scored lower even than students in traditional public schools at every grade level! Parents are an unnecessary component in public school at home programs, and the results come as no surprise. There is no substitute for parents.

The flyer said the courses would be “recognized for credit toward graduation requirements.” A more candid statement would have been that public schools will grant credit toward public school graduation requirements. Homeschool parents can determine on their own what to give their students credit for, and what is required for graduation.

The flyer says that “quality private curriculum providers” will be involved. However, no “free” curriculum will be available unless it has first been sanitized to remove truth about God. And you can count on the “free” curriculum being injected with the most pernicious fads the government school system believes your children should be exposed to. The mere fact that a private company publishes a book means nothing. They must bow to the government to sell books to government-funded programs. Some publishers even have two sets of books: one they sell to homeschoolers, and a “revised” set they sell to government programs.

Parents in Palmdale, California, recently learned a bitter lesson about losing control of their children’s education by placing them in a public school program. They filed suit against the public school system after their children were given a shocking “survey” containing questions of a sexual nature.

In rebuffing the parents, the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals said, “....parents have no ... right ... to override the determinations of public schools as to the information to which their children will be exposed while enrolled as students.” 427 F.3d 1197 (9th Cir. 2005). Read that quote very carefully.

Unless you intend to read every page of every free book, you will not know what content you are exposing your children to through books the government has put its stamp of approval on. In short, if you believe that education should be made to serve Christian discipleship, you will very likely be disappointed in the free books and online programs the government offers you.

The flyer ends with a bid to earn your trust: it says there are “home school families” on the advisory board for the public school at home program. This is a time when great discernment is necessary. People you know and respect may trade their liberty for the chance to save some money.

The government’s virtual school program offers you a choice: free stuff—or a free way of life. We urge you to choose a free way of life.