In a surreal development which most folks in the 1990s would never have dreamed of, the State Superintendent of Public Instruction called on the State Board of Education to adopt a new policy for 'Distance Learning' which directs all school districts in the state to close their existing campus classrooms and provide computers & internet resources for families to receive instruction and complete classwork 'virtually'.
It is the social spread of pandemic disease which brought about this radical change of course. Last week, virtual charter school parents became outraged to find that Superintendent Joy Hofmeister ordered virtual school teachers to stop providing phone assistance to the 35,000 students in 6 state funded virtual charter schools. Epic is the largest, and currently ranks as the 3rd largest school district in the state, growing an average 35% per year for each of the past 8 years.
Parents who already were overseeing their children's daily online instruction were furious to find that the State Board of Education demanded their kids stop learning, for no other reason than "to support a unified solution". Pressure mounted when SoonerPolitics and other media outlets started demanding answers. Lawmakers and local leaders added their voice to the call for a return to the education which Oklahoma taxpayers are paying for.
On April 6th, all public school kids will be back in class, but still at home
When Hofmeister determined that she could not politically sustain the policy of denying education to the virtual charter schools, she began to develop a policy of "if you can't beat'em; join 'em!".
Now every local school district will be scrambling to develop and 'beta test' a virtual instruction, or distance learning model and experiment on all the public school kids in the state.
Epic Charter has proven, over the past decade, that they operate this model better than any other entity. Other states have contracted with Epic's administrative services division to provide the same model in states like California. So parents throughout the state will get to try out home educating for about 6 weeks and get to know a little of the freedoms that homeschool families of the past 40 years have come to love. Kids can plan their lessens around their family's schedule, and on the days that work best for them. Social distractions and peer pressure will abate. the schoolyard bully is no longer a threat. Parents once again can monitor the curriculum. Siblings can learn as a family. the days of traffic jams at 8am & 3pm around the schools are gone! the cost of education should drop in half (should, but probably will still go up for taxpayers).
As a parent who started home educating 30 years ago, this is a marvel to observe. Congratulations, Epic. you showed us an innovation and a success model to follow.