HEF Newsletter September 2011

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The Home Education Foundation Newsletter

Home Educators' Voice At The Capitol - Florida
Providing information and insights to Florida Home Educators September 2011
In This Issue

Ask Brenda

Education - Virtual Options

American Legion Scholarship Contest

HEF at Work for You!

Have Brenda Speak to Your Group

Quick Links

Submit an article

Contact Us

Subscribe to our newsletter

Find Us On Facebook


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Identity Theft Protection

Learning At Home

Tales of Waterville

HEF Travel


  Brenda Dickinson

Ask Brenda

Is the school district obligated to provide special education services, such as speech and language, to home education students?

No. The school district is not obligated under federal, or state, law to provide special education services to children in home education programs. School districts are only required to provide services to students enrolled in public schools.

Is the school district prohibited from providing services to home education students?

No. The district may choose to enroll the home education student who has a special need on a part-time basis and provide services through the public school. The district can report and receive state funding for that student.

If you have a home education question you would like Brenda to answer in a future issue, please submit it to www.flhef.org/contact-us


New Virtual Options

There is a distinct difference in using the virtual courses as a supplement to a home education program and using it full time as a public school at home.

During the 2011 Session, the Florida Legislature expanded virtual education options to students both in the classroom and at home. Florida Virtual School can now offer a full time public option for K-12 grades to any public school student in the state or to any home education or private school student entering grades K-1 or 6-12. School districts can offer part-time courses of their own design or from an approved online provider to public school students taking grades 9-12 courses that are measured by an FCAT, an End of Course, or an AP exam. Blended virtual and traditional classroom programs can be provided by school districts. School Boards have now been authorized to approve Charter Virtual Schools and those will most likely be opening in some districts for the 2012-13 school year. So, if you think you are confused about what virtual options are available, who they serve, and what is offered, you are not alone. The virtual options are abundant, but don’t get confused about the fact that even though students are being taught at home, the program is not directed by their parents. Therefore, these students are not being home educated; they are public school students.

The following information was taken from: A Parent’s Guide to Choosing the Right Online Program. A iNACOL publication, February 2010. You may read the entire publication at:


How is online learning different from homeschooling?

Taking an online course or attending a full-time online school is not homeschooling. The online learning options discussed in this paper are provided by school districts, charter schools, state education agencies and other entities that are part of the public education system. Because these are public school online learning opportunities, curricula must meet state academic standards; teachers must be licensed according to state requirements and specially trained in online learning; and students must take all assessments required by federal and state laws. (Page 5)

Even though the Florida Virtual School Classic is a public program, it is not a full time program. Students remain registered with their district as a home educated student and their education is directed by the parent. Home educators are familiar with, and have been using, the Florida Virtual School (FLVS) Classic as a supplemental program for almost a decade. The Home Education Foundation worked hard to help establish this program. The reason was that prior to 1998 many home educators put their child(ren) back in public school at 9th grade because those parents lacked the confidence to teach a course or two. FLVS Classic bridged the gap for many families between the 8th grade and dual enrollment. FLVS Classic courses fit into their schedule and philosophy. The FLVS Classic model is “Any Time, Any Place, Any Path, Any Pace.” When parents use the FLVS Classic model, they remain in control of their child’s educational path.

While full time virtual education is not home education, it offers options that otherwise would not be available to parents who want to keep their children at home. There are two circumstances in which a parent may wish to consider one of the full time public virtual programs, including the FLVS FT Public, over a home education program:

  1. when a parent of a special needs student wishes to teach their child at home and still continue receiving the ESE services that a public school is required to provide or
  2. when a student intends to enter the military and needs to receive a high school diploma.

NOTE: Parents need to understand that the newer full time models of virtual public education, including FLVS FT Public, are more attendance driven, have more regimented classes with grade-level curriculum and require that the student take all required state assessments. This might not be a good fit for struggling students or those with special needs.

In addition to the FLVS FT Public Program, FLVS will be offering a full time program for home education students. In the FLVS FT Home Education Program, the student will be registered as a home education student with his/her school district and will retain home education status. However, FLVS, rather than the parent, will direct the student’s education, but the parent, rather than FLVS, will be required to provide the final transcript and diploma for their child. The student must complete all courses within the 180-day school year but will not have to take the required state assessments.

Parents know their child and will have to decide which of the many options will best meet their child’s needs and goals. There are trade-offs for every choice. If a parent of a public school child with special needs is considering home education, that parent will need to decide if enrolling the child in a full time virtual program in order for the child to receive ESE services is a better fit than home education.

HEF has created a chart of the virtual education options available to home education students so that parents can compare these programs. We hope this will help you clear up some of the confusion and help you make a wise choice for your child.

Florida Virtual Education Chart


P.S. If you have a story to share about how HEF has helped you, how your family has benefited from home education, or a question you would like to ask Brenda, please e-mail it here.

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American Legion High School Oratorical Scholarship Program

"A constitutional speech contest"

The American Legion Oratorical Contest exists to develop deeper knowledge and appreciation for the U.S. Constitution among high school students. The 70-year-old program presents participants with an academic speaking challenge that teaches important leadership qualities, the history of our nation’s laws, the ability to think and speak clearly, and an understanding of the duties, responsibilities, rights and privileges of American citizenship.

Young orators earn some of the most generous college scholarships available to high school students.

High school students under age 20 are eligible. Competition begins at the post level and advances to a state competition.

Speaking subjects must be on some aspect of the U.S. Constitution, with some emphasis on the duties and obligations of citizens to our government.

Full article: http://www.legion.org/oratorical/about

Topics for the upcoming contest: http://www.legion.org/oratorical/topics

Inspiration and Ideas:

Past Champs

2011 National Champion, Anisha Gururaj's speech

2010 National Champion, Tori Black's speech

2007 National Champion, Co'Relous Bryant's speech (from JACKSONVILLE, FL!!


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HEF at Work for You!


  • Session ended
  • Attended the FPEA Convention and met leaders and parents from across the state.


  • Attended the FHSAA Board meeting to review policy changes and wording for the 2011-12 school year.


  • Attend the HERI Convention and Leadership Day.
  • Met with the research arm of the legislature, Office of Program Policy analysis and Government
  • Accountability (OPPAGA) to present the case of modifying the Medallion Bright Futures score for home educators to equate to the scores of public school students as the test scores are raised over the next three years.
  • Began to investigate the Validation of Diploma policy at several State Colleges and determine why home educated students were being required to produce a transcript for admissions.
  • Began researching the virtual options for home educators with the providers, DOE and the legislative staff.


  • Attended the Kick-off events for  H.E.A.R.T.S in Southwest Ranches and P.E.C. in West Palm Beach.
  • Continued to investigate the validation of diploma issue.
  • Handled calls from home educators regarding special education services for their children.
  • Began tracking legislation for 2012 Legislature, contacting legislators about potential bills.
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Have Brenda Speak to Your Group

Throughout the year, Brenda travels the state updating home educator's on legislative issues that can have an effect on home education in Florida, how to stay informed and ways to communicate needs appropriately.

If you would like Brenda to speak to your homeschool group, please send an email request via the HEF contact page.

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