October 25, 2003

For the love, will they EVER be happy?... A state teachers union went to court in order to attempt to shut down MN Virtual Academy, a "virtual" public school that allows parents to teach their children at home using the K12 curriculum. MNVA is set up as a charter school and many homeschooling families chose this option for its structure and the availability of teachers on each subject. This is not a "traditional" (I use the term loosely) form of homeschooling as the grading is done by a "certified teacher" and the curriculum is set and must be followed (though there is flexibility in pacing) however many homeschooling families do chose this option.

According to the recent Pioneer Press article EDUCATION: Suit seeks to stop online program the teachers union is up in arms claiming that we are funding homeschooling with taxpayer dollars _gasp_ :

Education Minnesota argues that state officials erred when they certified Minnesota Virtual Academy to receive public funding because the school relies mainly on parents to deliver the instruction, but state law requires licensed teachers do the teaching.

"Is it public education, or are we funding home schooling?" asked Education President Judy Schaubach. "... What we are talking about is, what is the definition of public education."

The state response was valid I believe. Of course I believe in technicalities even when they don't suit my needs. But afraid of someone stepping in on their territory the teachers need to raise up arms:

State officials said Minnesota Virtual Academy meets the requirements of state law, which says a licensed teacher must "assemble and deliver" the online learning product.

"We believe the school has been properly certified," said Bill Walsh, Education Department spokesman. The agency was reviewing the suit Thursday.
Education Department officials said it was the Legislature's intent to fund programs like Minnesota Virtual Academy that rely on parents or another adult to help the student through the curriculum. At least one lawmaker on the Senate Education Committee agreed.

"If you have distance learning, you have to have some freedom at one end," said Sen. Gen Olson, R-Minnetrista. "To require teachers at both ends is clearly not the intent of distance learning or the legislation."

Well good for the state standing up for the MNVA. While this is not even truly about homeschooling (as MNVA technically is a public school) I think it just shows that many (not all) teachers are upset about territory issues (AKA money and students) not about the education the child is receiving. Here the school provides "certified teachers" to answer questions, develop the curriculum and grade - but somehow that is not enough for brick and mortar counterparts. What will they be happy with?

Joanne Jacobs has a nice write up with some information as well.

Read about it yourself and then you decide.

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