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									             Bennett’s Role in Promoting Public
           E-Schools Undermines Homeschooling
          illiam Bennett is known as a        ers can collect tax money rather than        Standriff: And certainly here in the state
          conservative, former U. S.          having to convince parents to pay for        of Ohio the issue of school choice has
          Secretary of Education under        the program themselves. Thus they can        come up. What kind of opposition have
Reagan, and editor of books such as The       charge more money (often more than           you folks found?
Book of Virtues. In the past, a significant   $5,000 per student per year) than most       Bennett: We found opposition from both
number of homeschoolers may have              parents could afford to pay.                 sides of the political spectrum. Some the

appreciated Bennett's position on some                omeschoolers are a key to this       homeschooling people have opposed us.
issues. However, it is important to under-            whole enterprise. Milken and
stand that in his role as a key developer             Bennett are building on the suc-     Standriff: O really, I would think this would
and promoter of public e-schools,             cess of homeschooling where parents          be right in line with their thinking.
Bennett is acting in ways that disregard      who are not certified teachers have been     Bennett: Well it should be. Frankly, I’m
our interests as homeschoolers and            very effective in educating their own        disappointed. I’ve been defending home -
undermine our homeschooling freedoms.         children in their homes. Homeschooled        schoolers for twenty years. But the prin -
     It is important to see Bennett's         children are well socialized despite their   ciple I’m definding, Mark, is school
actions in the context of Michael Milken's    lack of experience in a conventional         choice, parental choice. The objection
Knowledge Universe (KU). Milken is the        classroom. (Note: Many homeschoolers         they have is that it shouldn’t be involved
former "junk bond king" who made as           would say it is BECAUSE OF this lack of      in public funding, at all. It shouldn’t be
much as $500 million annually while           experience.) Thousands of grown home-        involved with government schools, as
dealing in junk bonds, according to           schoolers are now successful adults,         they say. But, I’m not prepared to relin -
www.Forbes.com for September, 2001 at         employees, and college students.             quish $400 billion and just say, well
http://www.forbes.com/asap/2001/091           Without evidence provided by the suc-        never mind, this is not money that I’m
0/064.html. (Forbes is a well regarded        cess of the modern homeschooling             entitled to. Parents are paying that
business magazine.) Milken was then           movement, Milken, Bennett, and others        money in taxes, they should have an
convicted of felony and served time in        would be having a much more difficult        option within the public school system
prison. His latest venture, KU, is a huge     time launching their enterprise and          that gives them a chance to educate their
enterprise based on providing e-learning      convincing investors and potential par-      children at home, but be publicly account -
via the Internet from cradle to grave, that   ticipants that it is a reasonable idea.      able as all public schools should be.

                                              I                                            C
is, for preschoolers through 12th graders,        n pursuing the K12 Inc. public e-                learly, Bennett disagrees with
career counseling, job training, and even         school initiative, Bennett and the               most homeschooling parents
retired people. As of September, 2001, KU         K12 Inc. organization have disre-                about the importance of being
consisted of nearly 50 companies, many        garded homeschoolers' concerns and           independent of public schools. As home-
of them interlocked, and was worth an         have refused to take seriously how pub-      schoolers we want to maintain responsi-
estimated $1.75 billion. (For more details,   lic e-schools will affect us homeschool-     bility for our children's education, not
see the Forbes article cited above.)          ers and our homeschooling freedoms. In       turn it over to the state. We want some-

       hus, while Bennett is chairman of      marketing public e-schools, K12 Inc.         thing different from what public schools
       K12 Inc., he doesn’t own it, and it    has targeted homeschoolers by using          offer and from the very limited curricu-
       wasn’t his idea. According to an       lists of homeschoolers' names and            lums public e-schools offer.
article from Business Week Online post-       repeatedly and aggressively contacting           The $400 billion Bennett refers to is
ed on Bennett's web site, Milken and          many of us through direct mail, phone,       the estimated amount American taxpay-
Ron Packard (now the CEO for K12 Inc.)        and the Internet.                            ers spend on public schools each year.
approached Bennett and asked him to               Bennet and the K12 Inc. organiza-        To be sure $400 billion is a lot of money.
chair a company they were organizing          tion have argued that parents need a         But we homeschoolers realize that if we
that has become K12 Inc. Bennett              range of choices, and public e-schools       take money from the state, we will lose
agreed, even though he had written in         are just another choice. However, the        our homeschooling freedoms. And
1999 in The Educated Child (a book he         basic dif ference between supporters of      Bennett doesn’t even acknowledge that
co-authored with John T. E. Cribb and         public e-schools and the vast majority       public e-schools undermine home-
Chester E. Finn) that there is "no good       of homeschoolers is that public e-           schooling freedoms.

evidence that most uses of computers          schoolers view parental choice as a mat-               hile a significant number of
significantly improve learning." Milken       ter of where public education occurs                   homeschoolers       may    have
provided $10 million to get K12 Inc.          and homeschoolers view choice in terms                 appreciated Bennett's position
launched. Thus, Bennett is the chief          of parents deciding what children will       on some issues, clearly he is now using
spokesperson for a campaign to estab-         be taught and taking responsibility for      his reputation within the homeschool-
lish public e-schools run by K12 Inc. in      that directly. We won’t have that choice     ing community to gain a foothold on
several states, including WI. According       and won’t be able to take responsibility     using public money to educate children
to the K12 Inc. web site, in August of        directly if public e-schools become          in their homes. Therefore, we home-
this year alone, Bennett was scheduled        known as homeschools because there           schoolers need to let other homeschool-
to make 16 personal appearances at            will be enormous pressure for the regu-      ers and the general public know that
events to promote public e-schools part-      lations that public e-schools are under      Bennett's commitment to using public
nered with K12 Inc. in California, Idaho,     because they are public schools to be        money in this way runs counter to what
Ohio, and Pennsylvania. (K12 Inc.             applied to homeschools.                      most homeschoolers want and would
scheduled 74 promotional events dur-              The major differences between            undermine the very nature of home-
ing August in those 4 states, an indica-      Bennett's goals and those of most home-      schooling as we know it. (See the article
tion of how aggressive their marketing        schoolers can be seen clearly in             on page 3 of this newsletter.)           y
campaign is.)                                 Bennett’s comments during an interview
     Offering the K12 Inc. curriculum         by Mark Standriff on WSPD radio in
through charter schools means promot-         Toledo, Ohio, August 16, 2002.

      PO Box 2502 • Madison WI 53701-2502 • Voice Mail 608.283.3131 • www.homeschooling-wpa.org

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