Wednesday, May 11, 2011

K12Online and South Carolina Virtual Charter school Choose Making Profit Even If It Means Making Children Sick

Online learning seemed to be a godsend for Gretchen Herrera’s son who was bullied and struggled in mainstream school due in part to having Asperger’s Syndrome and Type 1 diabetes.  The flexible schedule, additional freedom in class choices and the many benefits that online learning affords, worked very well for this motivated tween.  

...Until it came to test time.  Like thousands of other parents around the nation (see Facebook groups like this one), Gretchen and her child’s doctors knew that opting out of standardized tests was in the best interest of her child’s physical and emotional well-being yet, when she contacted the curriculum provider K12 Online and the local provider South Carolina Virtual Charter school (SCVC) her concerns were dismissed. K12 Online passed the buck and refused to get involved and South Carolina Virtual Charter school informed her that her concerns would be disregarded.

Gretchen is among the growing number of parents whose children are being forced even against parental concerns and strict doctor’s orders (for original doctor letter visit this link) to take lengthy and widely recognized as ineffective standardized tests. Gretchen has offered to provide alternative means of meaningful assessment, but that’s no good for this one-size-fits-all school and curriculum provider who have dismissed or ignored her requests. SCVC, the local provider, informed the Gretchen that her son must take the test, even if it is detrimental to her child’s physical and emotional well being. They indicated that failure to comply would result in him being kicked out and denied an education.  

When did schools and/or content providers begin dismissing parents or worse bullying them and forcing they choose between their child’s health and a proper education???  Have schools forgotten what it was they were supposed to do?  Have companies like K12 Online become government puppets not intervening when their local providers are making decisions that result in children becoming ill?  

While morally such decisions are not in the best interests of schools, staffs and companies like K12 Online, unfortunately, many are succumbing to the almighty dollar even if it means making our children sick.  There are big bucks in these children’s test scores and they are needed for schools and companies like K12 Online to rake in the bucks.  Prominent on K12’s site is investor relations information.

Gretchen wants to partner with her son to own his learning and receive the education to which he is entitled without getting sick. Unfortunately, it seems greed and compliance are ruling the lair.  Like many parents, Gretchen believes it is her right to expect schools provide an education for her child without subjecting him to weeks of torturous tests that make him ill.  Isn’t America a country that provides opportunities for learning rather than forces compliance at the risk of our children’s emotional and physical well-being?  Sadly, that no longer seems to be the case.  

We are living in an America where parents and our children need protection against the demands of a compulsory system of schooling if we want our children to grow up as happy, healthy, and successful adults.  Gretchen and thousands of other parents  (like those here, here, and here) are desperately seeking those who will offer such protection.

To read the heartbreaking story of Gretchen’s fight with the educational system to get her child the education she believes her son deserves visit this link and read additional details on Facebook here.


  1. She seemed to have tried to go about it logically with the correct people but it didn't work. She should tell her son her thoughts about the test. Tell him why she disagrees and she could even suggest that he just fill in any bubbles and be done with it in 15 min. Tell him they will not even be looking at the results. He can try it if he likes or just fill in bubbles. No big deal. He wouldn't be the first or last kid to humor the testers this way. If the people around him don't make a big deal about it, he probably won't either. Then move on with their lives. No need to make a big deal of it in their family life but it's good that they are trying to change the larger picture to improve it for everyone. If one kid does poorly on a test it shouldn't shut down a school, not even a homeschool.

  2. The only answer is to homeschool.

  3. I feel for the family, but having said that the mother knows ahead of time what is expected to attend this PUBLIC school. Therefore she should not be surprised by the testing requirements. SCVCS is a public school and must follow state rules to be so. And being a public school allows families to attend @ no cost. The mother should find a alternative like a private online school

    1. While I understand your logic, I can see that you aren't totally informed. Kids in public schools ARE allowed to OPT OUT of testing. I have several friends who have opted all of their children out of testing since testing became so often and so political. So, this family was actually treated differently than any other public schooled child would have been.

      This mother did know the testing requirements beforehand; the rules just weren't honored for her child, as they are in the schools for everyone else.

  4. The mother must have known what was expected of her and her child when enrolling in this school. She could have addressed these concerns at the beginning of the school year and "opted" NOT to enroll her son. Instead she is going out of her way to discredit a school who is just getting their bearings (they have only been up and running for 3 yrs) The school is trying to become a viable option for a state that is failing in the public school arena. Why didn't this mother choose a more traditonal homeschool path? I feel for her and her son. But the parent signed a CONTRACT with the school at the beginning of the year agreeing to the schools terms. Therefore it's on the mother's shoulders to comply.

  5. Those who blame the mother in this situation have forgotten, or perhaps never really understand, what it is like to have a child with learning disabilities. Perhaps when the mother enrolled her child in this school, she felt like he would be able to take the tests without harming himself. Things change for children; especially children who struggle with Aspergers or other disabilities.

    Or maybe the mother changed her mind after realizing the anxiety the testing situation might cause her son.

    Either way, blaming the mother for the school's lack of compassion, lack of flexibility, and outright indifference to a young child and his doctor, is appalling and pathetic. And those who attempt to push the focus away from the school and onto the mother are equally disturbing.