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Susan Pendergrass

Parents are angry and confused right now. Many are receiving mixed messages from school districts about what's going to happen in the fall. Critical information arrives late in the process and changes frequently. It's up to school districts and the Missouri Department of Secondary and Elementary Education to fix this. But that doesn't seem likely to happen before school starts this fall—and parents need help right now. So we've created a resource page designed to help parents navigate this strange and unprecedented school year. This should help parents figure out what their options are, what resources are available to them, and what sort of questions they ought to be asking. We hope you find the below information useful. Please feel free to share this with anyone you think might benefit.             

 

For Parents in School Districts that Are Offering Only Virtual Schooling

Micro-schools – A group of 10-15 multi-age students with one teacher. There are several national networks, but parents would have to work fast to create a micro-school at this point. Any that aren’t charter schools charge tuition.

http://blogs.edweek.org/edweek/charterschoice/2016/01/what_is_a_micro_school_and_where_to_find_a_micro_school.html

Acton Academies:   

                https://www.launchactonacademy.com/about

                https://www.mylighthouseinternational.org/                       

Prenda network:      

                https://prendaschool.com/

                https://www.forbes.com/sites/kerrymcdonald/2019/10/21/micro-school-network-expands-learning-options/#73619bf91e4e

PODs – Groups of families that agree to have their children learn in-person together while limiting their access to anyone outside the group. These are being formed in Missouri, but with no public assistance.

https://www.axios.com/parents-schools-coronavirus-pods-a18f0916-7dcc-43ff-bffe-5c33c753a23a.html

Some public and private organizations are stepping in:

https://www.wtvm.com/2020/08/06/ymca-metropolitan-columbus-offering-learning-pods-students-attending-school-virtually/

https://www.kbtx.com/2020/08/05/college-station-taekwondo-business-offering-learning-pods-for-online-students/

Kansas City YMCA: https://kansascityymca.org/blog/new-person-program-support-virtual-learning

At least one parent has started a POD business: https://www.fox29.com/news/philadelphia-mom-starts-business-offering-pod-learning

The Heritage Foundation has published several items with resources and information for parents who want to start PODs:

                https://www.heritage.org/education/event/virtual-event-how-start-education-pod-civil-societys-response-covid-19

                https://www.heritage.org/education/commentary/little-pod-platoons-are-educations-answer-lockdowns-fall

                https://www.heritage.org/education/commentary/pandemic-pods-are-fundamentally-reshaping-k-12-education

Scholarships – Giving state money directly to parents to pay for tuition or tutoring. These are not available in Missouri, but could be. Each governor received flexible stimulus money under the Governor's Emergency Education Relief Fund (GEERs) program. Governor Parson has received $54 million. So far, Governor Parson has allocated $24 million to higher education. The allocation of the remaining $30 million is unknown. Other governors have used portions of their GEERs funds to create scholarships for low-income students.

Oklahoma used GEER funding to create a scholarship that will help low-income families purchase curriciulum content, tutoring services, and technology: 

https://www.federationforchildren.org/governor-stitt-announces-30-million-education-allocation-plan/

South Carolina used GEER funding to create a similar program: 

https://governor.sc.gov/news/2020-07/gov-henry-mcmaster-creates-safe-access-flexible-education-safe-grants

Questions parents should be asking superintendents, school board members and legislators:

  1. Can I have a portion of my child’s state funding to purchase in-person learning if my district isn’t offering it?
  2. Will the district make teachers available for micro-schools for those who want and need them?
  3. Could the district open some school buildings for students to do their virtual learning with an on-site teacher assisting?
  4. What if I don’t have high-speed internet access? Hot spots were insufficient last spring.
  5. What if I work full-time and can’t stay home to help my young child with virtual learning?

 

For Parents in School Districts Offering In-person Only, Partial In-person, or Poor Virtual Instruction

There are a variety of online resources:

Missouri Course Access Program (MOCAP)

                https://mocap.mo.gov/

                https://www.missourivirtualed.org/

Free virtual resources:

                Khan Academy: https://www.khanacademy.org/

                NoRedInk: https://www.noredink.com/about/product

                Mystery Science: https://mysteryscience.com/

Virtual resources that cost money:

                Virtual Stream tutors: https://www.sitterstream.com/

                Florida Virtual School: https://www.flvs.net/

Questions parents should be asking superintendents, school board members, and legislators:

  1. I don’t like my school’s virtual education programming. Can I switch to MOCAP after the school year starts?
  2. My child can’t attend school in-person. Can I have state funds to enroll them in a high-quality virtual provider of my choice?
  3. If I decide to have my child stay virtual, do I need to register as a homeschooler?

 

 

 

About the Author

Susan Pendergrass
Director of Research and Education Policy

Susan Pendergrass was Vice President of Research and Evaluation for the National Alliance for Public Charter Schools before joining the Show-Me Institute. Prior to coming to the National Alliance, Susan was a senior policy advisor at the U.S. Department of Education during the Bush administration and a senior research scientist at the National Center for Education Statistics during the Obama administration. She earned a Ph.D. in Public Policy from George Mason University.