So we decided to enroll Ben in an online school.
The think-through of the decision went like this: we got a postcard in the mail about the Indiana Connections Academy. Hmmm. Never heard of it. So I registered for and attended an online information session. Within two minutes of logging on and starting into the slide show presentation, a communication window opened up and a Connections Academy teacher was live and online to answer ANY questions I might have. I conversed with her throughout the slide show and the longer we talked, the more impressed I was.
I talked with John about it and we signed up to attend a live info session at a local hotel. I was bound determined that if we decided to sign Ben up for the Indiana Connections Academy, the 'blame' wouldn't be entirely on my shoulders. ;-)
We were among the first to arrive. As we sat waiting for the presentation to begin, more and more people began to show up. Before long, the room was full. Before long, they brought in more chairs, and finally opened to folding wall behind us.
As this was quite awhile ago, many of the fascinating and impressive things we learned have escaped me, but one thing that has stuck with me was this: enrollment for the Indiana Connections Academy jumped 600% last year. WOW.
Over the years of trying and failing, trying and failing to be a successful inner-city teacher, my compatriots and I have long discussed what might be the Solution. What is the solution to the kids who don't want to be there, who literally destroy the classroom environment, disrupt the learning, and demand attention for behavior--keeping the teacher from teaching and the ones who care from learning? How do we solve that problem? My radical idea then was to discontinue mandatory school attendance. Yes, we would lose a generation or two, but those who wanted to be there, who wanted to learn would learn and those who didn't, oh, well. My thought was that little-by-little, society would come around again to valuing education, like our parents and grandparents--valuing it the way it isn't valued now.
My introduction to the Indiana Connections Academy changed my thinking on this. Sitting in that room, I felt I was looking at the future. Online education--no behavior problems, no disruptions, individualized instruction--is the future.
When the meeting was over, and all our questions answered, John and I looked at each other and nodded. Yep. This would solve so many of our problems--mainly, never really knowing what Ben was doing at school. He never brought home homework, never studied, we never knew about tests. He claimed to have no idea what happened to papers, why he got certain grades. With this, we would know everything. We could see what was happening, what his strengths were, what his weaknesses were.
Of course there would be trade-offs. We knew that. School-at-home (NOT home-schooling) would create an entirely NEW set of problems, but our most pressing ones would be taken care of.