Kane County School District Seeking to Form Statewide Illinois Online Charter School

Northern Kane group wants charter for online high schoolCourier News Emilie McFarlan and Katie Anderson

“… Northern Kane also is asking for the board’s support to form the Illinois Online Charter School. If granted, this would expand access to the virtual learning programs used at Cambridge Lakes, making them available to students not just in District 300, but also across the state. A $1 million facility addition, completed this summer, has made physical space for the expansion, according to Fuhrer. And as many as 22,000 families statewide have expressed interest in the program, he said. But Stevens said he’s not sure how a statewide program would fit into Northern Kane’s current charter — or into the original concept it had shared for the Cambridge Lakes Charter School. And the school board pressed Fuhrer for details last month about the corporations it would be getting involved with, including the Illinois Online Charter School and Virginia-based K¹², its current partner for its virtual program.”

Learn more on this blog about the problems created regarding homeschooling and public virtual school perceptions.

K12 Company Lobbies IL Legislators

K12 is a business and has not been supportive of protecting homeschool freedoms while maintaining and growing their business with government schools.

In Illinois, there are homeschooling families who successfully use (and pay for) the K12 curriculum (International Academy), as a private school option.

The K12 company has made at least 34 different contributions to our IL representatives, including Rod Blagojevich…no surprise there…, in the last couple of years.  Bill sponsor, Representative Chapa LaVia, received contributions.

I don’t know that K12 will be used for this state-wide virtual school, but K12 is used for the Chicago Virtual School, that opened in the fall of 2006

Here are the recorded Illinois legislators accepting campaign monies from the Virginia based K12 Company:

The  search found 34 receipts totaling $21,500.00

K12 South Point II 2300 Corporate Park Dr Herndon, VA 20171

$500.00 11/30/2006         Individual Contribution Senator Demuzio Committee

K12 $500.00 2/5/2007  Individual Contribution Citizens for Mike Smith

K12 $500.00 1/2/2007              Individual Contribution Citizens for Edward Acevedo

K12 South Point II $500.00 12/8/2006           Individual Contribution People for Eddy

K12 $2,500.00  8/17/2006           Individual Contribution Friends of Blagojevich

K12 $500.00 12/18/2006         Individual Contribution Friends of Debbie Halvorson

K12 SOUTH PORT II $1,000.00 11/3/2006            Individual Contribution Citizens For Colvin

K12 $250.00 11/1/2007            Individual Contribution Citizens for Harry Osterman

k12 $1,000.00 12/28/2006         Individual Contribution Citizens to Elect Tom Cross

K12 $250.00 1/9/2007              Individual Contribution Friends of Linda Chapa LaVia

K12 South Point II $2,000.00 12/28/2006         Individual Contribution Friends of Michael J Madigan

K12 $500.00 11/21/2008         Individual Contribution Citizens for Mike Smith

K12 $500.00 9/15/2008           Individual Contribution Friends of Clayborne

K12 $500.00 8/27/2008          Transfer In People for Eddy

K12 $250.00 10/10/2008        Individual Contribution Citizens for Harry Osterman

k12 $500.00 8/11/2008           Individual Contribution Citizens to Elect Tom Cross

K12 $250.00 8/7/2009             Individual Contribution People for Eddy

K12 South Point II $1,000.00 10/1/2008           Individual Contribution Friends of Michael J Madigan

K12 – South Point 11 $250.00 8/21/2008           Individual Contribution Citizens for Maloney

K12 Inc. 2,000.00 12/20/2006         Individual Contribution Citizens for Emil Jones

K12 Inc. South Point II $250.00 12/13/2006         Individual Contribution Citizens for Pritchard

K12 Inc. South Point II $250.00 9/4/2008             Individual Contribution Citizens for Pritchard

K12 Incorporated $1,000.00 1/3/2007              Individual Contribution Citizens for Carol Ronen

K12 Incorporated South Point II $1,000.00 12/12/2006         Individual Contribution Citizens for Frank Watson

K12 Incorporated South Point II $250.00 1/11/2007            Individual Contribution Citizens for Burzynski

K12 Incorporated $250.00 12/15/2006         Individual Contribution Friends for Renee Kosel

K12 Incorporated $500.00 12/23/2006         Individual Contribution Citizens for Lightford

K12 Incorporated $500.00 11/10/2006         Individual Contribution Friends of Iris Y Martinez

K12 Incorporated $250.00 9/2/2008             Individual Contribution Friends for Renee Kosel

K12 Incorporated $250.00 8/21/2008           Individual Contribution Friends of Iris Y Martinez

K12 Incorporated South Point II $500.00 8/28/2008          Individual Contribution Citizens for Frank Watson

K12 Incorporated South Point II$250.00 9/9/2008             Individual Contribution Citizens for Burzynski

K12 Management Inc. $750.00 10/26/2009         Individual Contribution Friends of Clayborne

K12 Management Inc. $250.00 3/6/2009             Individual Contribution Citizens for David E Miller

Chicago Virtual Charter School

The Chicago Virtual School’s approval by the IL State Board of Education in 2006 is covered in this article:

Chicago Schools Opens Its First Virtual Elementary School

Opposition to the Chicago schools’ new virtual elementary school stem from a variety of areas. Here are just a few:

• Computers will replace teachers and/or reduce their role in education, eliminating many teacher positions.
• The one-on-one attention that students may receive in a physical classroom setting will be lost.
• Virtual students in the Chicago schools will not receive enough social interaction, stunting their socialization skills.

The Chicago Teacher’s Union sued K12, ISBE (IL education governing body), Chicago Public Schools and other individuals, and lost. The lawsuit seemed to center around IL statute language that calls for “non-home based” charters. The K12 program is of course, built around the computer use being home-based. The Virtual also included a once/week science class attendance in a brick and mortar building. I imagine the brick and mortar classroom inclusion was to try and fend off the union’s concerns about the lack of social/emotional peer support in the classroom as quoted by the Chicago Teacher Union president:

“For them to think they can address the social and emotional issues of a child without being in the same room as that child is ludicrous,” Stewart said. “You can only adequately address these issues in a classroom where you have necessary peer support and peer interaction.”

More here:  Virtual Schooling on Fox News

Here’s the actual statute that the quibble is about.

(105 ILCS 5-27A-5)

Sec. 27A-5. Charter school; legal entity; requirements.

(a) A charter school shall be a public, nonsectarian, nonreligious, non-home based, and non-profit school. A charter school shall be organized and operated as a nonprofit corporation or other discrete, legal, nonprofit entity authorized under the laws of the State of Illinois.

For years, many IL homeschoolers were assuming that public school virtuals wouldn’t make their way into IL because of the particular statute phrasing quoted further down in this post;  that charter schools must be “new options” and that the charter will “create new, innovative, and more flexible ways of educating children within the public school system”. Illinois had already created a public Virtual High School. And I think homeschoolers were resting on their laurels in that public school virtual was already created, and therefore blocked “new options” for virtual public schools.

But the Chicago Virtual is for K-8th grade. AND the IL legislators who created the charter school act were contacted this summer by K12 and virtual school proponents about what they -really – meant with that language.

Here’s the  quote from the Chicago Public School lawyer concerning the legislators’ responses:

“Rocks, the attorney for Chicago Public Schools, said the restrictions on “home-based” charter schools mushroomed from concerns that home schools were trying to become charter schools simply to get public dollars. He presented letters from state lawmakers who voted on Illinois’ charter school law, and said their intent was not to block Internet-based schooling.”

Here’s part of the legislative declaration concerning “new options”:

(3) The enactment of legislation authorizing charter schools to operate in Illinois will promote new options within the public school system and will provide pupils, educators, community members, and parents with the stimulus to strive for educational excellence.

(c) In authorizing charter schools, it is the intent of the General Assembly to create a legitimate avenue for parents, teachers, and community members to take responsible risks and create new, innovative, and more flexible ways of educating children within the public school system. The General Assembly seeks to create opportunities within the public school system of Illinois for development of innovative and accountable teaching techniques. The provisions of this Article should be interpreted liberally to support the findings and goals of this Section and to advance a renewed commitment by the State of Illinois to the mission, goals, and diversity of public education.

So lesson learned, vigilance is eternal and question everything. IL homeschooling was dragged through the mud because of a public school issue.

Public School Programs Are Not Homeschooling

Virtual Schooling on Fox News

Here’s the link to the ~3 1/2 minute video from yesterday about public virtual schools: Virtual Schooling

Homeschooling came up immediately.

We all know home schooling is growing like wild fire spreading like — in this country. Tell me about — how virtual schooling differs from traditional home school ….

The guest responded accurately:

It’s full time public school so that differentiates from home schooling … home schooling is …not state funded. There are no report cards traditionally. It [virtual schooling] is public school and you abide by the test scene and — the requirements of the brick and mortar schooling.

She also gave a representation of the public virtual school advantages:

It’s self paced. It’s working at .. how they learn best and also you can engage in so many wonderful enriching curriculums that may not be provided — by your public school. “

They have more time outside the classroom with their family.

Illinois had a public virtual high school.  It is now called the Illinois Virtual School for grades 5 through 12, and is run by the Peoria County Regional Office of Education. Here’s what they say on their website:

Schools

The Illinois Virtual School partners with public, private, and home schools to provide online learning for students and educators.

Chicago has one public virtual school.  Information about the school is located on the private K12 corporation‘s site.

Here is a Chi-Town article about the Chicago Teachers Union lawsuit against this virtual public school. The lawsuit was dismissed last spring:

Cook County Circuit Court Judge Daniel A. Riley rejected both arguments. He wrote that although the school shares attributes of home schools, it is not a home-based school. Further, he said, because it is a charter school, it may define supervised instruction differently from state law.

“There are differences between the way we do education and traditional home schooling,” says Bruce Law, head of the Chicago Virtual Charter School. “On that difference — that’s where we were making our case.”

Marilyn Stewart, president of the Chicago Teachers Union, says the difference was not enough to merit public funding. Since students of the virtual school spend most of their time learning at home, she says, they are essentially home-schooled.

“For someone to take public funds to home-school their children is not right,” she says. “It should not be on the backs of a majority of our students who are in our public schools.”

12 year old homeschooler in Springfield Journal-Register article

The Springfield Journal-Register has an article about a 12 year old homeschooler using an online high school program, K12.

Amanda Monke is doing well and received congratulations from her teachers in earning the highest marks in her online class.

The article points out the use of K12 in the public school realm. (The Monke family uses the private school/homeschool version, in which they pay the tuition expenses themselves.)

Several states and cities, including Chicago, have created public charter schools that use K12. The publicly held, Virginia-based company has a board full of corporate and Ivy League-educated executives, and K12’s most recent earnings report boasts the company enrolled 40,859 students this year.

If you read the comments below the article, school socialization comes up as an issue.  Here’s a classic from Rico377:

If you live sheltered all your life,when they get free, reality is one course you can’t learn online. People are gonna say things,do things that if don’t know how to adapt and overcome as a child,its going to be twice as hard as an adult. I myself want my child to expierence the reality of public school,the friends,the bullys,the ridicule,the team sports,the dances,etc. Its very important to live that,it will make you tougher,and more reality oriented. I’ve known kids like Amanda growing up,the home schooled kids, they either go wild cause of being sheltered,or end up with alot of emotional problems.I know that online schooling is the future,but you can’t have the same human interaction behind a keyboard and monitor.

Other commenters addressed the concern about homeschooled children not being bullied enough.

StephenD55 says:

As a medical student at SIU who had been home-schooled until college, I have to disagree with Rico377 and TEH23 about the need to mingle in a large social group in order to not have problems. Like Mrs. Monke says, there are a lot more home-schoolers than you think. The socialization argument was cute back when home-schooling was only beginning and hadn’t been seen through the whole way very often, for a while now, the home-school community has corrected some initial problems and produced a pool of people who thoroughly enjoyed their educational experience don’t have the horror stories of their traditionally educated counterparts.
It is not that difficult to find the data online, check it out.