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					               K12 (Again!) and others who covet
                     homeschoolers and why
                                      March 26, 2003

Summary: Ohio homeschoolers were again bombarded with unsolicited mailings last week from
K12. A lavishly-produced public relations mailing announces a clearly expensive April 5 "K12
Innovation in Education" Expo to take place in Columbus, OH. These efforts on the part of this
for-profit education management company continue to blur the distinct differences between ho-
meschooling and publicly-funded, government-controlled schooling via an e-school or cyber-
school. Homeschoolers should be aware of the dangerous trends toward homeschooling being
integrated into government school in their homes. Unless we work to preserve our independence,
we may find that our rights are quickly eroded.


Statements from the K12 Expo mailing                   you valuable tips to help you manage
                                                       your time so that you never need to feel
"The Speakers" include William J. Bennett,
                                                       hurried or frantic.
with a typical bio and the statement: "Hear
his valuable insights on the current state of         Setting Up Your Teaching Environ-
education and his visions for the future of            ment: You've decided to teach your
education in the United States." (The im-              child at home.... Learn from education
pression is made that Bennett will be at the           experts how to set up an effective teach-
expo. However, an announcement on an                   ing environment.
OHVA-K12 discussion board–home of his
                                                      Teaching Multiple Children: Many
Ohio charter school–tells us that Bennett
                                                       parents fear that teaching more than one
will only be there virtually, by video satel-
                                                       child at home will be too time-intensive
lite.)
                                                       and arduous.
Despite Bennett's repeated denials that K12
                                                    Notice the diminishing language of these
is trying to confuse homeschooling and his
                                                    three workshop descriptions, discrediting the
publicly-funded, government accountable,
                                                    valuable, long-term successes of homeschooling,
cyber-school, the workshop descriptions in-
clude statements that clearly continue to           equating this decision with extreme effort
                                                    and hardship, and introducing words such as
contribute to confusion.
                                                    “fear,” “frantic, and outside “expert.” These
Linking homeschooling: We are told that             descriptions undermine and disrespect the
attendees with be able to “Meet other Ohio          successes of the innumerable homeschooling
Virtual Academy (OHVA) families, staff,             families who thrived, long before Bennett
interested parents, and K12 homeschooling           and his colleagues began harvesting tax dol-
families….” This appears in the brochure‟s          lars for charter schools. In fact, OHEC be-
first sentence, so linkage is immediately           lieves homeschooling success is the very
made between this government-controlled             reason that we have been placed in the cros-
program and homeschooling.                          shairs of those seeking to profit from charter
Workshop descriptions include:                      schools.

  Time Management: The life of a home              Enticements to participate: Prizes for child-
   educator can feel like a nonstop roller-         ren are promised as well as a registration
   coaster ride.... This workshop will give         raffle for a "...brand-new laptop computer.


                                                1
Any children you include on your registra-               mine their curriculum since students
tion form are entered in another drawing for             have to study what will be on the tests.
a LeapFrog goodie bag." Since K12 is re-
                                                        Complete a year's worth of specific as-
ceiving funding from many states‟ education
                                                         signments delivered by computer by the
budgets, OHEC questions the use of taxpay-
                                                         company running the public e-school.
er money for extravagant enticements to par-
ticipate in the conferences of for-profit com-          Work individually with each child, since
panies. We also question the program                     subject matter is different for each
quality if such enticements are necessary to             grade. In other words, siblings can't
solicit registration.                                    work on the same topic at the same time
                                                         at different levels, as many homeschoo-
Conspicuously absent in the brochure
                                                         lers do."
Not surprisingly, the Expo brochure doesn‟t
even attempt to address the differences be-          – Source: Wisconsin Parents Association New-
                                                     sletter, Issue 75, and March 2003
tween homeschooling and enrollment in
government-controlled charter schools.               “Blending” homeschooling with public
K12‟s abundant mailings of last year to              schools
Ohio homeschoolers did not address these             Whether it is affiliation with charter schools
distinctions either. We feel homeschoolers           or with traditional public schools, OHEC
should know exactly what rights and free-            believes that enticements to participate in
doms they must relinquish if they choose to          government schools, if successful, will
enroll in a government-funded e-school. The          eventually result in the loss of autonomy
Wisconsin Parents Association recently               homeschoolers have enjoyed in Ohio since
wrote:                                               1989. We also strongly believe that many
"The biggest difference between home-                homeschooling families will see the danger
schools and public e-schools is that home-           of these enticements and will not accept
schoolers take direct responsibility by              them as they know the “freebies” come with
choosing a curriculum, an approach to                too steep a price–the loss of their children‟s
learning, and the principles and values on           and their family‟s freedoms to home educate
which these are based while public e-school          and live lives absent government regulation..
parents accept and follow detailed instruc-          OHEC recently learned of and reported on
tions about what to learn and how to learn           related initiatives to “blend” programs in
it, using a curriculum designed to comply            Florida between the Okaloosa County
with state requirements and values. Instead          School District and homeschooling. As the
of being able to choose an approach to               Floridians point out, they are creating a
learning and curriculum that works for their         "new approach" with their Blended School
family (as homeschooling families...do),             Program, by taking “the lead and devel-
pubic e-schools are state schools, which             op[ing] a model for Florida and the nation.”
means the state is coming into their homes.          We remind the reader of the definition of
People who enroll in them must:                      “blended”: to mix smoothly and inseparably
  Keep extensive records and report on the          together; to have no perceptible separation.
   hours of study each day for each child.           Just a few years ago, the traditional school
  Comply with state standards in educa-             community was seldom considered to be
   tion.                                             “welcoming” of homeschoolers–in fact,
                                                     quite the contrary. Hundreds of articles and
  Take state-mandated tests which deter-


                                                 2
essays were written to demonstrate the nu-             Now, we have US Department of Education-
merous challenges homeschoolers faced in               funded organizations and local school dis-
dealing with school administrations and just           tricts “speaking for” homeschoolers, creat-
to force those administrations to comply               ing their own versions of definitions to key
with existing state laws. To be sure, those            homeschooling questions. These from the
challenges still occur.                                Florida proposal:
But as school choice advocates–both those                What is homeschooling?
inside and those outside state legislatures–
started stepping into the picture, and as initi-         Who is homeschooling?
atives such as charter schools were created,             Why homeschool?
“programs” were developed to include ho-
                                                         What homeschoolers think
meschoolers. Either because they were legis-
latively “forced” to allow homeschoolers, or           More serious than ironic, we see the real in-
because they determined that homeschoolers             tentions as discussed in many news reports
were a significant source of revenue and               announcing these coming “homogenized”
could help stem the losses to enrollment,              versions of government school and home-
campaigns were created to specifically                 schooling hybrids (see below). OHEC un-
enroll homeschoolers.                                  derstands the challenges that local school
                                                       districts now face. Because of drastic
In their Blended School Program proposal,
                                                       changes in education policy, including the
Okaloosa County schools cited trends in
                                                       creation of voucher schools and hundreds of
programs that had been created on the west
                                                       charter schools, coupled with deep cuts in
coast, as well as citing Bennett‟s K12. Re-
                                                       education funding in virtually all 50 states,
searching the west coast area, OHEC finds
                                                       local school districts are scrambling to stop
the Northwest Regional Educational Labora-
                                                       the financial bleeding.
tory‟s January, 2000, “hot topic” booklet
entitled Making Positive Connections With              The funding crisis for public education is so
Homeschoolers. Funded by the US Depart-                significant, it is astonishing the direction
ment of Education, NWREL tells us on page              that at least four Ohio school districts are
6 of the “incentives” to “cooperate with ho-           now undertaking. They have announced
meschoolers” which include: legislative                their intentions to convert their entire school
mandate, enrollment and funding increases,             districts to charter schools. In some cases, if
and preparing for potential re-enrollment of           they are successful, they stand to increase
students. According to the report, additional          their state funding by four-fold.
benefits of reaching out to homeschoolers              The shortfalls, however, in school budgets
include: A reassurance to concerned edu-               cannot and should not be made up on the
cators that homeschooled students' needs               backs of the homeschooling community.
are truly being met and that they are mak-
ing adequate educational progress (Dahm,               Clearly, stemming of financial losses must
1996).                                                 be the motivation of school districts here in
                                                       Ohio. As of this writing, six school districts
We can’t beat you, so join us?                         are now receiving funding from the state for
OHEC finds it ironic that for many years,              their version of cyber charter school, includ-
homeschoolers have worked hard to prevent              ing an umbrella operation known as TRE-
any one organization from “speaking for all            CA, which is a consortium of school dis-
homeschoolers” even if those organizations             tricts. It is astounding to us that, according
were created by and for homeschoolers.                 to the Ohio Department of Education Char-


                                                   3
ter School Directory, beyond those six, there         point out what clearly is a primary motiva-
are another 50 school-district cyber (digital)        tion: state funding and/or control of home-
charter schools waiting in the wings, already         schooling. Several of the excerpts show that
approved.                                (See:        charter schools have quite similar motiva-
http://webapp1.ode.state.oh.us/community_s            tions.
chools/school_directory/ )
                                                       Perrysburg (OH School District) Digi-
As of the March 2003 payments, the state                tal Academy
projects total current year funding to all cy-          “Dr. Edinger raised some concerns about
ber charters, both those sponsored by school           enrollment. Enrollment figures of 25 for the
districts and the four for-profit schools, will        first year and 45 by the fifth year of opera-
exceed $42.25 million dollars or 21% of all            tion are „hoped for‟ numbers, and are not
charter school funding. The current school             based on any marketing studies, he said.
enrollment for all cyber charters is 7,563 or
22% of all charter schools in the state.               “‟We do not know what the need is here,‟
                                                       he said.”
Precision target marketing to homeschoolers
is inevitable from those school districts un-          “Dr. Cline said the academy would open
dertaking such schools. After all, it is the           opportunities for students in the district, in-
school districts themselves that maintain the          cluding those who are home-schooled. In
list of homeschoolers as they notify.                  addition, as sponsor of the academy, the
                                                       Perrysburg school board could create a
News reports are revealing                             school „that meets our standards,‟ he said.”
OHEC believes that all families have the               -- Toledo Blade, March 1 2003
right to educate their children according to
their principles and beliefs. But families             Las Virgenes (CA School District) Ho-
need to think deeply and critically of the re-          meschool program
quirements of enrollment, both for their own           “Las Virgenes plans to model its program
families and for others who would like to              on those offered by other Ventura County
homeschool after them.                                 school districts, including Oak Park and
Enrollment has always been available to                Somis.
families. Some have done so and understood             “Under those programs, a parent serves as
that they were returning to government                 the child's primary teacher, but the school
school when they did. Preserving the free-             district provides textbooks, supplies and
dom to homeschool without any government               lesson plans. At least once a week, the par-
interference is and has been the primary goal          ent and child meet with a district teacher,
of thousands of families. Given the inten-             who checks the child's progress.
tions of those who are creating these pro-
grams, we believe that enrollment and ho-              “After almost a year of planning, the Las
meschooling are and must remain mutually               Virgenes board of education decided last
exclusive to insure the continued opportuni-           month to move ahead with its home-
ty to homeschool for all.                              schooling program. Estimated cost for the
                                                       first year is $55,000.
The following news excerpts from the last
year show a pattern change in attitudes by             “That cost will be offset, though, by state
school districts across the country toward             funds the district receives for each student
initiatives to establish “homeschooling pro-           enrolled in its schools -- roughly $4,400 per
grams.” With few exceptions, the reports               child. If 20 students enroll in the home-


                                                  4
 schooling program, the district would re-            “‟The traditional school system with its set
 ceive up to $88,000.”                                hours each school day doesn't work for
                                                      some kids,‟ Akron Superintendent Sylve-
 -- Ventura County Star, February 18, 2003
                                                      ster Small said. „Some kids need to work or
 K12’s California Virtual Academy                    they are home schooled. Our school will al-
 “CAVA uses the K-12 curriculum devel-                low them to get an education from their
 oped by Reagan administration Secretary of           home on a schedule they set.‟
 Education William Bennett.                           “The Akron district certainly is interested
 “As for accountability, CAVA monitors the            in educating children, but their motive for
 progress of roughly 200 students in San Di-          opening a charter school was also forced
 ego via computer and with periodic visits            upon them by another reason: money.
 from credentialed teachers. [Children] will          “The district's enrollment last school year
 also take the same standardized achieve-             fell below 30,000 students for the first time
 ment tests as public school students.”               in over a half-century. A school system's
 -- TheSanDiegoChannel.com, February 17,              operating budget is determined by the
 2003                                                 number of pupils it has; the more students
                                                      the more money. The district has warned of
 K12’s Wisconsin Virtual Acade-                      budget shortfalls in the coming years.”
  my/Northern Ozaukee (WI) School
  District                                            -- Akron Beacon Journal, August 27, 2002

 “[Northern Ozaukee] School Board mem-                K12’s Ohio Virtual Academy
 ber Kate Redmond said she liked the idea             “Bennett's school is targeting home school
 of using a virtual school to reach out to            students with a program geared to helping
 families that want homeschooling for their           parents teach their children with e-mail or
 children. „It is bringing home schooling             phone support from teachers employed by
 under the state‟s umbrella,‟ Redmond                 the school.”
 said.”
                                                      -- Dayton Daily News, August 24, 2002
 -- Ozaukee Press, February 6, 2003
                                                      Tri-River Educational Computer Asso-
 Chambersburg (PA) Area School Dis-                   ciation (OH consortium of on-line
  trict on-line school                                 schools)
 “Michael said that the way the system is             “Educating children at home is the fastest
 envisioned, a CASD teacher would act as              growing element of charter schools in the
 „teacher of record‟ for the students taking          state. Enrollment could soar from about
 the courses here. „The teacher would score           3,000 cyberschool students last year to
 the work, issue grades, and probably make            more than 12,000 in the next few years.
 site visits – we‟re still working out the de-
                                                      “Carder estimates that while the schools re-
 tails,‟ he said.
                                                      ceive more than $5,000 in state and local
 “‟Our homeschooling population is our tar-           money per child, the cost is only $2,500 per
 get group,‟ he said.”                                elementary pupil and $3,500 per high
 -- The Chambersburg Gazette-News, Janu-              schooler. He said public school districts
 ary 22, 2003                                         would use profits to fund other school pro-
                                                      grams, while for-profit companies would
 Akron (OH Public Schools) Digital                   pocket the difference.”
  Academy


                                                 5
 -- Akron Beacon Journal, July 17, 2002               “VCS plans to market itself to parents of
                                                      Ohio's 120,000 home-schooled children
 Mat-Su Borough (AK School District)
                                                      and the state's 180,000 dropouts age 21 or
 “A third charter school may be coming to             younger, Mr. Musick said.
 the Mat-Su Borough School District, this
                                                      “All VCS students in the Reynoldsburg dis-
 one aimed at helping families who want to
                                                      trict will be eligible to participate in school
 educate their children at home.
                                                      activities, Ross said. For accountability,
 “A group of certified instructors and par-           they will be tested every six weeks in
 ents this spring turned in an application to         school.”
 the district to begin Horizon Charter
                                                      -- Columbus Dispatch, May 18, 2002
 School, a program that would provide
 guidance to families who are homeschool-             Lorain (OH School District) Digital
 ing their children. The benefits would flow           Schools
 both ways, according to the applicants - the         “The district would in turn save money that
 parents would receive professional assis-            might be lost from students who are consi-
 tance in better educating their students, and        dering transferring to a charter school, said
 Mat-Su would receive the state dollars for           Superintendent Delores Morgan. „It gives
 those students, funds that would otherwise           us an alternative to students who are home
 go unused or to other districts.”                    schooled,‟ Morgan said. „With those stu-
 -- Matanuska-Susitna Valley Frontiersman,            dents, we get no state reimbursement, and
 July 3, 2002                                         there is no monitoring of the curriculum.‟”
 North Canton (OH School District)                   -- Lorain Morning Journal, April 23, 2002
  Digital Academy
                                                      Alternative
                                                                 Education Academy aka
 “North Canton schools hope to offer online             OHDELA (OH)
 curriculum to students in grades K-8, said
 Superintendent Thomas Shoup. That could              “The Alternative Education Academy esti-
 serve home-schooled students and students            mates it can enroll 500 students in kinder-
 who are homebound because of illness.                garten through grade 12 in the first year and
                                                      5,000 by the fifth year, drawing at least $25
 “‟I think we have the ability to provide a           million in taxpayer support.
 high-quality program,‟ he said. „At the
 same time, it will keep our local taxpayers‟         “The school has a contract to immediately
 money, if people elect to participate, in our        pass 97 percent of the tax dollars to White
 school district.‟                                    Hat Distance Learning, which provides all
                                                      of its teachers and management.”
 “Districts lose about $5,000 in state and lo-
 cal taxes for most students who transfer to           “Home schooling as a part of charter
 community schools. Shoup said North Can-             schools has been a controversial issue in
 ton loses about $22,000 just for three spe-          other states because it has the potential for
 cial-needs students who attend one com-              high profit for the operators and high ex-
 munity school.”                                      penses for taxpayers.

 -- The Canton Repository, June 27. 2002               “California has tried to limit home charter
                                                      schools because of their rapid growth.”
 Reynoldsburg (OH School District)
  Virtual Community School                            -- Akron Beacon Journal, January 29, 2002




                                                 6
Final Thoughts                                       model these many years, we believe most
                                                     homeschoolers have been more than happy
OHEC has been monitoring this issue for
                                                     to trade off the pre-packaged, state-
over three years. We have paid close atten-
                                                     mandated curriculum, the standardized tests
tion to attitudes and concerns of home-
                                                     “expert” teachers and, yes, even the “free”
schooling families, support groups, school
                                                     (loaner) computer.
advocates, charter school profiteers, media
and legislators.                                     Certainly, the law allows any family to
                                                     enroll if they so choose. Those same fami-
As stated above, enrollment in government
                                                     lies can keep a “homeschoolers” attitude
school has always been available to any
                                                     about life for the times when they regroup
family who chose it.
                                                     together. But if this becomes your family‟s
Since we do not live in a perfect world, we          choice, please don‟t try to interchange the
must accept trade offs in the numerous deci-         widely held understanding of enrollment in a
sions that we make each day. Some people             school and homeschooling so that your
love living in the city and choose that wil-         choices do not eliminate the choices for
lingly. There are benefits to city living,           those who want homeschooling freedoms to
which cannot be found in rural areas. And            remain.
those in rural areas who love being there are
                                                     There are many things homeschoolers can
more than happy to trade off the trappings of
                                                     do in the face of this challenge. We can
city life. Most cannot find or afford acreage
                                                     maintain our rights to homeschool while
in the city. And fine art museums are few
                                                     strengthening     homeschooling      support
and far between in the country.
                                                     groups. We can discuss these important is-
Whatever we “give up” to homeschool, in-             sues and work to inform others. We can
cluding tax dollars–which all citizens pay,          work to dispel the developing myth that
not only homeschoolers, but also those who           enrollment is homeschooling. We can make
do not have children in any school– home-            our groups more open, more welcoming and
schoolers reap the countless benefits of be-         more supportive than ever so that those who
ing with our families, growing together,             truly want to find their way here do not get
solving problems creatively, supporting oth-         waylaid for even a moment in operations
er families, traveling together daily through        which work to undermine our community
the “real world,” choosing the pace that suits       and disempower families.
our needs, desires, and goals. Using that




This information was prepared by Ohio Home Education Coalition, an open and
inclusive coalition of interested homeschoolers who come together to raise
awareness of issues facing homeschoolers in Ohio. We do not maintain an inter-
active email address. As we are all busy with our families, individual responses to
this fact sheet would be impossible. The authors give permission for this fact
sheet to be duplicated in its entirety and distributed to your support group mem-
bers.




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