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THE DECEPTION CONTINUES...
By Lynn Stuter
August 3, 2003
Following the publishing of Homeschools, Private Schools, and Systems Education, K12® ... Panacea or Plague? and The Tactics of the Trained Facilitator, a homeschool in Idaho contacted this researcher, stating that the homeschool had received, in the mail, a brochure inviting them to an Idaho Virtual Academy Parent Information Session. The homeschooler wanted to know if I would be interested in seeing the brochure they had received. I was.
When I received the brochure, I couldn't help but wonder why K12® and the Idaho Virtual Academy haven't been fined for deceptive advertising. The brochure states,
"You are invited to an Idaho Virtual Academy Parent Information Session. Come learn more about the Idaho Virtual Academy (IDVA), a tuition-free, comprehensive education program that provides you with everything you need for an excellent education at home." (emphasis added)
Let's reword that statement:
You are invited to an Idaho Virtual Academy Parent Information Session. Come learn more about the Idaho Virtual Academy (IDVA), a government-controlled school in the home funded by state education tax dollars, offering a comprehensive education program that provides you with everything you need for a government-controlled school in the home.
The second statement accurately defines the "virtual academy" concept of K12® and is certainly more forthcoming than the IDVA statement.
So why not just use the second statement instead of the first? Why not indeed! Could it have something to do was the fact that most people who homeschool don't want a government-controlled school in their home? Could it have something to do with the fact that getting too close to the truth might have a tendency to put people off? Could it have something to do with deceiving homeschoolers?
Following the dates of the sessions, the brochures continues:
"Families enrolled in IDVA receive:
Just look at what the prospective user of the Idaho Virtual Academy will get if he/she enrolls? Impressive! Obviously intended to entice the homeschooler to "enroll" — the reality of which is that the homeschool is no longer a homeschool but a government-controlled school in the home. Big difference.
At the bottom of the brochure is prominently displayed the Idaho Virtual Academy logo and name and the K12® Virtual Academy logo and name.
No where on the brochure is the source of the money to finance the Idaho Virtual Academy revealed. The closest the brochure comes is in stating that the Idaho Virtual Academy is "tuition-free" which could mean that the school is the benefactor of philanthropy or maybe even a foundation. Tuition-free is not synonymous with state education tax dollars, state apportionment, or full-time equivalent (FTE) monies. The term tuition-free is an oxymoron. Either the parents pay the tuition or the taxpayers pay the tuition. Either way, the money to pay the tuition is not "free."
No where on the brochure does it state that if you enroll in the Idaho Virtual Academy, you are no longer a homeschool but a government-controlled school in the home. In fact, the brochure, in stating the program "provides you with everything you need for an excellent education at home" leaves the reader with the decided impression that this is a homeschool which it is not in the true or traditional sense of the word.
The concept of a government-controlled school in the home raises questions, not the least of which are:
• When a government-controlled school is situated in the home, does the home have to meet all safety guidelines required of the public school?
• What about the drug-free, gun-free, tobacco-free zones required to exist around a government-controlled school — what control does that give the government over that home and the surrounding homes?
• What about religious symbols in the home in which a government-controlled school is situated? Can the government require those symbols be removed as they have required religious symbols to be removed from public buildings and churches involved in government faith-based work? What about a nativity scene on the front lawn at Christmas ... a bible study in the home during school hours ... a cross or crucifix on the wall ... the exercise of prayer before a meal or in the preparation of the meal?
• Is the home, housing a government-controlled school, considered a public building?
• Who has ultimate authority over the children in a government-controlled school in the home: the parents or the government?
• What authority do social service agencies have in the government-controlled school in the home in the context of readiness-to-learn?
This concept raises a lot of questions, relevant to government schools, that could affect the private residence, and the private citizens use of private property, and that prospective "virtual academy" enrollees would do well to think about before becoming entangled in what could turn into a nightmare of the worst kind.
With the Idaho Virtual Academy brochure, the homeschool to which it was sent was at a loss to know how IDVA obtained their address. Through a process of elimination, it became apparent that IDVA had to have obtained the homeschool address through the curriculum companies the homeschool orders from. It has become apparent that this is how homeschool addresses were also obtained in several other states.
One would think that homeschool curriculum companies would safeguard the privacy of homeschools and not give out or sell that information. As it is, homeschools would do well to keep in mind that their names and addresses are not necessarily being kept confidential by the company they are ordering curriculum from. Those who wish to safeguard their privacy should look into how to do that in a manner that is legal and binding on the curriculum company from whom they order curriculum.
Concerning the manner in which K12® and the state "virtual academies" are advertising their wares, the old saying, "if it looks too good to be true, it probably is" applies. When the government offers help, that help comes with a price tag, and that price tag inevitably constitutes a loss of freedom to the recipient. Those who believe what they get from the government is free delude themselves in pursuit of the almighty dollar. Those who believe the government is there to help them also delude themselves in pursuit of the illusion of getting something for nothing.
© 2003 Lynn M. Stuter - All Rights Reserved
Mother and wife, Stuter has spent the past ten years researching systems theory with a particular emphasis on education. She home schooled two daughters, now grown and on their own. She has worked with legislators, both state and federal, on issues pertaining to systems governance and education reform. She networks nationwide with other researchers and citizens concerned with the transformation of our nation. She has traveled the United States and lived overseas. Web site: www.learn-usa.com E-Mail: firstname.lastname@example.org
"Just look at what the prospective user of the Idaho Virtual Academy will get if he/she enrolls?
the reality of which is that the homeschool is no longer a homeschool but a government-controlled school in the home."