Why is virtual schooling not homeschooling?
Proclaiming that virtual schooling is schooling at home rather than homeschooling is not pride or intended to be offensive. Those who choose a virtual public or charter school often take offense to the distinction. The distinction is not semantics or a homeschooler looking down her nose at a parent who uses a virtual school. The difference is not about the quality of education but in legality. Homeschoolers have a different legal battle than a parent who sends her child to school or to a virtual school.
Areas Virtual School Controls:
- Curriculum: parents cannot change the curriculum if they find it ineffective or disagree with the content.
- Grade levels: students are placed in a grade level on all subjects and can advance as a whole and not in part.
- State testing: students are required to take state testing.
- Attendance: parents log in attendance and agree to the number of days and/or hours the child will be in school.
A child who attends a public, private, charter or virtual school is registered in a school system. The reason for the rules or restrictions is because a public or charter virtual school must follow guidelines set by the state, therefore, it is state regulated. The child is registered in a school system and graded by outside teachers using that system. Legally, changes in homeschool laws will not affect the virtual school student.
Areas a Homeschooler Controls:
- Curriculum: the parent has full control over choices and may change at any point for any reason.
- Methodology: the parent may employ any teaching method she feels suits her children.
- Attendance: the parent has control over vacation times, how to divide up the school year, and how to organize the day. Some states, however, do require a certain number days or hours.
- Testing: homeschoolers are not subject to state testing, such as the PARCC and AIR.
- Lifestyle: homeschoolers enjoy the freedom to teach based on their own lifestyle and family needs at all times.
A Little Q&A…
Does this mean a parent who chooses virtual schooling is wrong?
Of course not. You must make the educational decisions for your family based on your family’s needs.
Does this mean a parent who chooses virtual schooling cannot join a homeschool co-op?
I don’t see any reason why this person should be excluded. We are all parents who chose an alternative route to education.
Does this mean virtual schooling is a lesser form of homeschooling?
Absolutely not! It is simply not homeschooling as defined by law.
Does this mean the parent is not actively involved in their child’s virtual schooling?
No, ask any parent of a virtual schooling student and she will tell you that is not the case. However, the parent is not the educator but more like an education coach.
Are you just a mean-spirited, militant, homeschooler who hates all educational choices but your own?
No, and I certainly hope I do not give that impression. I have used a virtual school in the past. I completely support a parent’s freedom to choose the best educational path for her child.
Is it just semantics that homeschooling and virtual schooling need to be distinguished?
Not making the distinction may end up violating the rights of homeschooling parents. The fight is not about what form of education is better or how can join an exclusive group. The fight is about the rights of the homeschooling family. The law concerning virtual schooling and homeschooling are quite different. If the terms get mixed in the wash then some of the clothes will come out discolored and that hurts everyone. Even if you do not choose this path the first steps to taking away parental rights will be through the homeschoolers. Let’s protect our rights and our children.