Georgia Virtual School came onto the radar for homeschoolers in Atlanta just a few years ago, and in that short time, the program has become invaluable to many. While I, personally, am not fond of the program, there are homeschoolers who use it for the bulk of their homeschooling needs.
Georgia Virtual Schools (GAVS) have made themselves invaluable to the greater Atlanta homeschooling community by providing public school courses online. This program seemingly ads credentials to a homeschoolers portfolio, proving they can make good grades using a public school curriculum. At least, this is what homeschoolers who have flocked to this online program for the last six years seem to believe. To make GAVS even more attractive, it has been free, until now.
This past week, homeschoolers who have already signed up for the fall semester with GAVS have been getting bills in their inboxes. To their surprise they have received bills for $250 per semester per class to use the program. If you do the math, a full load will cost $1000 or more per semester.
Senate Bill 289 was recently signed and goes into effect July 1, 2012. It requires that all public school students take at least one online course during their high school career, also removes funding to homeschoolers. The bill contains some very vague language that is definitely open to interpretation. In all of its vagueness, I can only ascertain that since our homeschool reporting just got moved my county to state, that we no longer have access to county funds that paid for the program. That money is now going to public school kids who have to use the program by law. Furthermore, the state feels no obligation to provide homeschool resources.
This leaves me and my fellow homeschoolers with one question. Does GAVS think that homeschoolers are going to pay for this program that we know is imperfect ? (There is a general consensus among homeschoolers that the program is far from optimal). I can tell you that is not going to happen. Homeschoolers have too many other resources. If you can get homeschool classes taught with other homeschoolers (privately) within a few miles from your home, for $320 per class per year, why would you pay $500 just to have the Georgia seal of approval? I think not. If a child is taking 4 classes, that is the difference of a whopping $720.00. Let's not forget that most homeschooling families have multiple children.
Personally, I feel that this was a bit of a bait and switch tactic all along. Get homeschoolers lulled into a sense of security that they can have their kids at home, plus get a free curriculum to boot, that they will find value in it, and eventually, they will pay for it. There is, however, a problem with that theory. There are homeschoolers who will take advantage of free programs to homeschool their kids, but there is also a lot of competition. Some of these other programs are also free, or at least low cost. Homeschoolers will gladly use something else if they lose access to public programs.
If you are a homeschooler in the Atlanta area, you should know that there are many programs you can utilize to homeschool your teen, that is, if you don't want to do the teaching one-on-one yourself.