The school year is coming to end. Or is it?
For 16 year old Johnny Redd, the beginning of June is no different than any other month. Things are quiet as Johnny sits down and turns on his computer. It is 10:00 am in South Florida, and most kids Johnny’s age are turning in their books and tossing out their papers getting ready to head to the beach. Johnny may meet a group of his friends later for some volleyball, but before he heads out, he wants to be a little productive.
“I’m going to log in for an hour and finish my English essay before I meet them out there.” For Johnny, this is just a typical day. “Some days I’ll sleep in, grab some breakfast, log in around 10:00, work for an hour, go to the gym, grab some lunch, work for another hour, meet some friends, hang out for a couple hours, head home for dinner and another hour of work, watch some television and listen to music while signing in one last time for the day.” Johnny is one of the thousands of students that have left the traditional brick and mortar school system in favor of online education.
“Johnny is a smart kid, but he is not like the other students. He can pick up a book and read and retain information like no one I have seen. He works better independently and free from all the distractions of public schools”, according to Johnny’s mom, Marcy. “He is independent and takes responsibility for his work. He still has a certain amount of time he needs to spend on his coursework, but he is responsible for making sure it gets done.”
Johnny is not alone. More and more American families are leaving the traditional school system in favor of what they consider a better alternative. “My son learns at his own pace, at a time and in an environment that is more conducive to learning and free from your typical school related distractions. If he needs, he can take breaks throughout the day and come back when he is ready to learn. The best part, he will tell you, is that he can sleep in and doesnt have to show up to first period with his eyes closed and head on his desk.”
These are just a few things that make online schools more attractive to students and parents. “I don’t have to worry If my son is smoking a joint with his his buddies, or if my daughter is skipping school getting into trouble somewhere”, says Maria Espinosa, mother of two teenage children attending an online high school. ” We have had some incidents of knives and guns being brought to the public high school and kids being injured. That is no environment for education, and certainly not a place I want my kids attending. They aren’t going to end up a news story for trying to get an education.”
Marcy and Maria are not alone. More and more parents are turning to online schools in an effort to avoid sending their children to deteriorating public schools. “There is a fight every day! I’m not kidding you. You just hope its not your children, but we don’t have any other option”, says Raymond Walters, father of three. “We only have one public school in the area, and we can’t afford private school. What choice do we have?”
This seems to be a common issue with parents and students. Many of them have never even considered homeschooling or online schools as an option. “We didn’t have that when I was growing up”, says 50 year old Luther Beasley. “If you were homeschooled, people looked at you like you was a freak. No one I knew was homeschooled and there was no online schools. That’s all new to us. We wouldn’t know what to do and I worry about fake diplomas.”
This is a huge concern for parents. They worry that it is too overwhelming and that they are doing the right thing. They also worry that the program is legitimate and that their diploma will be recognized. It is a lot of stress for a parent and student who are new to this form of education. “You need to do your research, and make sure they are accredited”, according to homeschool advocate Jacob D. Lane. “Check for regionally accredited online high schools. That is the most important thing you can do to make sure your diploma is recognized. You also want a program that provides certified teachers to help your children in situations where you can’t. Some other things that might help you make a decision might be: Curriculum, Flexibility, Self-Pacing, Interactive, Cost, Grading, Accessibility and Customer Service.”
The important thing to remember is that you can attend an online school or homeschool and have the same opportunities as students attending a public or private high school. You can go to an ivy league college, you can attend graduate school, you can become a doctor, etc. Online education and homeschooling are no longer viewed with the same stigma as they were twenty years ago, and because of this, we all have a lot more options.