Have you ever felt as though you were trapped in your own home, unable to go anywhere? Have you ever needed to go somewhere, or get something done, and looked at your schedule, and not been able to find a place to put that one simple task? What about when that task is something as simple as grocery shopping? Of taking your children out for the day, instead of leaving them stranded in front of their computers all day every day?
Virtual schooling parents are all aware that they are going to have to make sacrifices in order to have this sort of education for their children. They aren’t going to have the freedom to do whatever they want to do, whenever they want to do it. There will be meetings, class assignments that must be completed, and materials that must be acquired. These things are inevitable.
What is not, or at least should not, be inevitable is the reality with which TNVA parents are now faced: the need to choose between completing mundane, ordinary tasks and allowing their children to miss classes, which might result in truancy; or the need to attend those classes. Frighteningly, many parents will go with option number three: they will leave their elementary and middle school children at home alone while they complete their necessary tasks, hoping that they will adhere to the necessary policies and do what they’re supposed to do, preferably without burning the house down, letting strangers in, or otherwise harming themselves in some way.
Many, if not all, TNVA students have at least one parent who is a stay-at-home parent. That means that they not only are responsible for homeschooling the children, but for cooking, cleaning, and running errands. With one child, that’s a realistic possibility even with the new schedule…but what about those parents with multiple children? What about the parent who has a child in middle school, a child in elementary school, and a toddler whose naptime must be taken into consideration? The parent with two children three or four years apart, so that their class connect sessions occur at entirely different times; or the parent of two children very close in age, whose class connect sessions, if not overlapping, will be very close together and eat a chunk out of the middle of the day?
These parents can’t take their children to the grocery store. They can’t visit the bank. They can’t run out to pick up a couple of things without having to watch their time constantly—and Heaven forbid they should be caught in traffic on the way back, or have an errand run over the expected time.
What about working parents? Many parents make the choice to work from home, in one way or another, in order to enable them to provide an online education for their children. Suddenly, they can’t run out to get materials that they need, or have a meeting anywhere but in their home (or someplace with a wireless internet connection, where they will then be stuck for an hour or more).
There is no running out to grab a bite to eat anywhere but the kitchen, or taking kids on an all-day field trip to the aquarium, the zoo, or a museum. These trips must instead be cut short, tailored to mandatory class connect sessions—or not attended at all. Virtual schooling has gone from being “homeschooling with a little extra help” to “public schooling with a lot more trouble for the parents.”
It’s almost not worth it anymore.
Of course, none of these changes were released before the beginning of the school year, when parents could have made other arrangements. Instead, they were dropped on parents within the first couple of weeks of school. Parents don’t have a choice until they can make other arrangements—they have to adhere to these schedules. And what schedules? Those aren’t even available yet for many students. Rather, they log on each morning to see what class connect sessions they will be required to attend—sometimes more than one in a single day.
Teachers and administration are concerned that if the standards set by the government aren’t met, the option to virtual school will be taken away from the state of Tennessee. However, concerned parents have to wonder…is the school attempting to make parents remove their children before that happens?