An experiment with home schooling by the Department of Defense education system is coming to an end after six years.
More than 400 students, most of whom are children of Defense Department employees on overseas military installations, currently participate in the Remote Home School Program, which was originally made possible by a special congressional appropriation of about $4.5 million. The program, which began in the 2001-02 school year, is not scheduled to extend past July of this year, and participating families were informed in mid-January that they would have to make other plans for the 2007-08 school year. The department spent $3.3 million on the program this school year.
“We truly regret the disruption this may cause students and families,” Joseph D. Tafoya, the director of the Department of Defense Education Activity, said in a statement. “We do not take this decision lightly—it is the result of careful analysis of the needs of our directed mission.”
Students affected by the program’s closure may enroll in their local Defense Department schools or continue to home school or enroll in private school at their own expense, officials said. If no Defense Department schools are available, approved home- schooling programs may continue to receive a support payment up to the amount permitted by the Defense Department and the Department of State.
In developing the program, the Defense Department’s education system established a series of services for home-schooling parents to support the entire course of instruction for an enrolled child. The help included a choice of appropriate grade-level curricula; a computer, printer, fax machine, and Internet access; training workshops for parents and students; certified teachers familiar with home schooling to assist parents with planning, lesson development, instruction, and assessment; and annual or semiannual standardized testing to measure student progress.
To be eligible for the program, students had to be dependents of U.S. service members or Defense Department civilian employees and located outside the United States. Often, such families were stationed in remote locations where a Defense Department school was unavailable. However, according to a department spokesman, some families who live close to such a school have participated in the home-schooling program by choice.
Further information is available from the Department of Defense Education Activity.
A version of this article appeared in the February 21, 2007 edition of Education Week