The Fox Valley area schools are being presented with a proposal for a virtual charter school. Virtual Learning Solutions is offering its services to all eighteen school districts in the Valley. It is being marketed as the perfect alternative for students who are at risk of dropping out, athletes in training, musicians, students with health concerns, underachievers and those who would prefer a more accelerated program. I would add another reason—the current rise on school violence.
Colleges have been offering total on line classes for those who are working full-time or prefer that academic challenge without the dormitory life. Virtual online classes for kindergarten to 12th grade seems to be the logical next step.
Why K2 program
Virtual Learning Solutions has no prior experience as an online school Therefore, K12 an already established for-profit learning program will provide the curriculum and administrative service. Each student’s tuition would be paid by school districts funds. Districts are concerned they would lose needed funding, especially if the child drops out of the program. Another concern is the litigation K12 is facing in a few states for altering grades, using uncertified teachers, and continuing to collect monies for students who have dropped out of the program.
Homeschoolers get no tax breaks
Online education has been available in some form or another for decades for those who prefer to homeschool their children. Thanks to the internet, virtual classes can be accessed from anywhere. Illinois homeschool parents do not get tax breaks or vouchers to reimburse their education expenses. These parents are willing to make the financial sacrifice. Now that the public school is willing to explore virtual education why is it costing so much more per student than individuals are paying for the same services?
Program Red Flags
West Aurora would be paying out between $6,980 to $11,636 per student. Doing a little Google search and a phone call to a comparable online educator, I found prices considerably less. American Online High School, headquartered in Hollywood, Florida, offers classes for 6th-12th grade from $1900 to $3900 a year per student. Their curriculum offerings for 6th to 12th grades matches K12 on every level. Aurora schools , not to mention Illinois schools as a whole, have had to slash their budgets. How do they justify paying out this kind of money for a virtual education? This was my first red flag, the second was the aforementioned K12 lawsuits.
My third red flag came when I tried to find Virtual Learning Solutions website. They don’t seem to have one. Virtual School may be a wonderful option for families, but the cost seems extreme. I think the districts’ money would be better spent on other online alternatives that are less costly.
Perhaps $6000 is reasonable when your child is actually attending a brick and mortar school. Some private schools tuition fit K12 price ranges. But a child taught at home does not need a janitor, a locker, security guard, library, cafeteria or gym which are all factored into the per student cost in a public or private school and serving as the basis for K12 tuition pricing.