Summary: A virtual charter school operated by a school district in central Wisconsin claims it will purchase curriculums and/or pay for private lessons for homeschoolers who enroll in this public virtual charter school, comply with its regulations, report to school officials, and have their children take standardized tests. Although the short-term benefits may be tempting to some homeschooling families, many other homeschoolers recognize the long-term threat to homeschooling as we know it in Wisconsin.
Important Note: This article is part of WPA’s continuing work to maintain homeschooling freedoms and inform homeschoolers and others about threats to our freedoms and other serious consequences of current developments. For some families, reasons to enroll in a program like Bridges Virtual Academy (BVA) are clear immediately while the serious consequences are less obvious. This article is intended to provide missing information so families can make educated decisions. Please join other homeschoolers working together through WPA to remind homeschoolers of the importance of our homeschooling freedoms and alert them to serious threats to that freedom.
• Bridges Virtual Academy (BVA) will be unlikely to deliver the curriculum choices, including religiously based curriculum, and some other features it is claiming to offer.
• Because BVA is a public school, participating families will be regulated by the government. Former homeschoolers enrolled in BVA will surrender important freedoms.
• The program is on shaky ground. It clearly appears to be motivated more by money than education. It is likely to be challenged on questions of (1) spending taxpayers’ money without adequate accountability, (2) running a public school program without much involvement of certified teachers, and (3) violating the First Amendment principle of separation of church and state.
• Such challenges may lead to legislation to regulate programs like BVA.
• BVA is not a homeschool. (Homeschooling parents take direct responsibility for their children’s educations and do not turn them over to the public schools.) However, because BVA is a public school at home and some people falsely assume it is a homeschool, legislation to increase regulation of BVA may also increase regulation of homeschools.
• BUT, as a homeschooler, there is much you can do to join others working together through WPA to maintain our homeschooling freedoms. See “What We Can Do” below.