Liberty-focused Online Academy Exploding in Popularity
Written by Dave Bohon
With summer waning and another school year on the horizon, a new crop of parents with school-aged children is in search of quality alternatives to the public school nightmare. Low academic expectations and dismal performance by a majority of students, a one-size-fits-all mentality by education officials, and a school culture that denies God while exalting self and sensuality — all have led to a stampede of families fleeing the government education bureaucracy.
Add to that the latest, and to-date most ominous, threat of a wholesale federal government education takeover — being pitched by the friendly sounding moniker “Common Core” — and it's easy to understand why countless thousands of parents across America are rushing to add their own children to the estimated 2.5 million K-12 students currently being educated at home through an assortment of homeschool curricula and online academies.
One of the most exciting and innovative home education options to come along in the last few years is the explosively popular FreedomProject Education (FPE), which delivers a complete classical, Judeo-Christian-based K-12 curriculum to students across the United States using state-of-the-art online technology.
A live online school with virtual classes, taught by qualified instructors, that students attend from home, joining other young scholars from around the nation, FPE is a uniquely “Americanist” academy, designed to provide students with an education similar to that enjoyed by America's Founding Fathers. From elementary grades through high school, students receive a thorough education taught upon a foundation of personal liberty and responsibility, citizenship, and independent thinking.
FPE's age- and skill-appropriate classical curriculum combines basic subjects — Math, English, History, and Science — with a regimen of courses once common in America's best schools, but now largely neglected by the education establishment, such as Logic, Economics, American Studies, and even Latin.
“Many of these mostly forgotten subjects were foundational to preparing the independent thinkers and bold leaders who guided this nation in its early days,” said FPE founder and president Alan Scholl. “And the same holds true today. Students who are encouraged, challenged, and stretched with a rigorous classical curriculum grow in the knowledge, skills, and confidence to be the leaders this nation needs to return to its roots of liberty.”
Launched in 2011 with just 22 students, FPE will begin the 2014 school year with nearly 600 students from kindergarten through senior high school. Scholl said that FPE's impressive growth has come in part with the national trend toward online — or “virtual” — schools, as many education providers — including many public school districts — have attempted to catch the wave of home education's massive popularity.
“There are a number of reasons American families have taken over two million of their kids out of the public schools,” explained Scholl. “At the top of the list is the issue of performance. Home educated kids statistically perform on average from 15 to 30 points higher than their public-school counterparts on standardized achievement tests — and that is regardless of their parents' educational levels.”
And while homeschool critics warn that students educated at home miss out on crucial opportunities for socialization provided in a public-school setting, “in reality homeschoolers typically score above average in tests of social, emotional, and psychological development,” said Scholl.
But there are other fundamental reasons parents are aggressively rejecting government schools in favor of educating their children in the home. A study conducted a few years back by the Department of Education found that 31 percent of parents who taught their children at home did so out of concern for the public school environment, citing such issues as “safety, drugs, or negative peer pressure.” Another 30 percent said that homeschooling offered them the ability to “provide their children with religious or moral instruction.” Nearly 17 percent of parents expressed their dissatisfaction with “the academic instruction available” in the public schools, while another 14 percent said they chose homeschooling because of special needs of their children that were not being adequately addressed in the public school classroom.
“The core reason so many parents are opting to educate their children at home boils down to the issues of control and influence,” said Scholl. “Parents want to determine the atmosphere in which their kids are being educated and trained, what they're being exposed to both by the teachers and their peers, what they are going to learn during the school day, and what they're not going to learn.”
He noted that the education bureaucracy — from local school districts and state education departments to the federal education behemoth — has built a well-deserved reputation for running roughshod over the rights and responsibilities of parents in an aggressive effort to implement curriculum agendas and social engineering schemes that disregard the religious convictions and moral absolutes of many parents. “From banning prayer and religious instruction while requiring sex education and the acceptance of homosexuality,” said Scholl, “to implementing learning models that graduate students who are under-educated and unprepared for life, the government education monopoly has prompted increasing numbers of parents to take back control of their children's education. That's the homeschool revolution in a nutshell.”
In an attempt to catch a wave of that revolution while slowing the exodus of students to legitimate home education options (and the resultant loss of government funding), many public school districts are now offering their own “homeschool” alternatives in the form of virtual academies created through partnerships with private companies like K12 and Connections Academy.
Such companies contract with school districts to provide curriculum and education consultants, in return reaping part of the local, state, and federal tax money that the district gets for each student. The families that sign on to these public-school virtual academies get “free homeschooling” for their kids — which often includes “free” computers and other perks — while the school district retains the per-student monies it would have lost had those families gone with another homeschool option.
While the private companies behind the scheme insist they are providing a quality homeschool option through public schools, in reality there is a crucial component missing that is foundational to authentic homeschooling: parental control. Homeschooling expert Dr. Brian Ray pointed out that whereas traditional homeschooling has always been privately funded and privately pursued, public-school virtual academies are tax-funded, state-run, and state-controlled.
In the public school virtual academy model, he told The New American, “the state chooses and controls the curriculum....” By contrast, “in home-based education, parents and private organizations get to decide what is used to teach, train, and indoctrinate children. The center of power and control with a [public school] virtual academy is the state; in private education, it is parents, family, and freely-chosen private associations.”
That element of parents working in conjunction with a freely chosen private school to provide children with a curriculum and learning experience both rigorous and rewarding is what has made FreedomProject Education one of the most exciting home education innovations to come along in years.
“We have taken great care to design a curriculum that teaches solid academics, along with the fundamentals of liberty, citizenship, and Americanist-minded independence,” said Scholl. “The flexible, affordable, and high-quality alternative to government education is here, for anyone who is seeking a better way to educate their children, or supplement their own efforts through homeschooling.”