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Global Student Network, Bridging the Gap: Public School vs. Homeschool

by Don Posson

Admittedly, I’m a newcomer to this discussion, but as in most things throughout my life, I’m a quick study and fairly adept at picking up main currents. My exposure to the benefits of homeschooling came from my experience as a school counselor in a public school. I was fortunate to be in the front wave efforts of a virtual high school program. I was amazed to see that students who weren’t finding success in traditional brick-and-mortar schools were doing amazingly well in the virtual classroom.

Our experience in Virtual Education, as a consumer, led to trial and error with a variety of curriculum providers. I’m glad to say that we didn’t have to try all of the virtual curriculum providers to find the most effective, but our research quickly eliminated some that were severely flawed.

Our search led to one provider that appeared to have the best match for bridging the gap between public and homeschooling. In the best of worlds, especially in education, the optimum is for a partnership of public and private entities. We discovered that partnership between Jefferson County Education Service Center (JSESC) as the public education provider and Global Student Network as the private corporation.

JCESC found its roots in Virtual Education when its superintendent, Mr. Craig Closser, came to the conclusion that too many public school students were leaving public schools and going to charter, private and homeschools. From the public school standpoint, the loss of income from students leaving the system can have a serious detrimental impact on their ability to provide educational services. The students however, continued to cite three common reasons for leaving:

1) Negative school environment,

2) The desire to incorporate faith-based curriculum in their children’s education and

3) Dissatisfaction with the academic instruction itself.

After discussing his concerns with the Jefferson County Governing Board, the Board approved his establishing one of the first virtual schools in Ohio, and perhaps in the nation, to partner with the public schools to provide online learning. This seven-year effort finally started paying dividends in 2003 with the opening of JCESC Virtual Learning Academy. JCESC VLA initially offered 68 courses for grades 3-12. By the 2004-2005 school year, JSESC was being used by over 120 school districts throughout Ohio, with over 2,500 students enrolled. The majority of these students were previously enrolled in Charter, Private or homeschool programs.

The results for JCESC have been very positive. Those Ohio school districts recognizing the need to reach out to the non-traditional student, are coming to realize what homeschoolers have known for years… students working with the parents with a solid curriculum do better than if they had been kept in a brick-and-mortar school.

Bill Wise, a district curriculum manager who partnered with JSESC said: "We’ve been able to graduate students we wouldn’t be able to otherwise," he said. "We’ve been able to keep students active who would have otherwise quit."

As for its success already, Wise said, out of the 50 seats available to students this past year, 47 students participated. "We had 11 seniors, three graduated on time as a result of the program," he said. "We anticipate the rest to graduate this summer. We’re pleased with the results. We have found another way to benefit students in a cost-effective manner."

In 2004, JSESC joined their efforts with Global Student Network, LLC (GSN), a U.S. based corporation established to deliver front line educational curriculum services to students attending homeschool, Charter, Public, Private and International schools. Global Student Network’s owners and staff members are current and former charter and international school founders, administrators, counselors, board members and educators. Their advisory staff is composed of state homeschool officials, homeschool organization leaders, homeschool consultants and curriculum developers, university deans, professors, admission and financial aid officers, athletic coaches, recruiters, staff development specialists and representatives of America’s most advanced educational software delivery systems.

Global Student Network, through its partnerships with leaders in the education and recreation communities, provides innovative and comprehensive courses and programs which enhance existing traditional and non-traditional elementary and secondary schools.

More importantly though, Global Student Network offers its full curriculum to homeschool students and their families. GSN works with each and every student as an individual. Many homeschool families would like to cooperate with their public schools, but find it difficult. Frequently, GSN attempts to act as liaison with the school districts and those families in order to create win-win situations for both. Working with GSN, school districts can develop a model Virtual Learning Academy of their own and maintain student funding – at the same time, meeting the primary educational needs of non-traditional students.

True homeschoolers, those who do not desire any public interference with their children’s education, can benefit as well. When a homeschool student enrolls with Global Student Network, the parent is provided with "teacher" access. That access provides them with all the course material they need to teach their students.

Global Student Network’s value to their homeschool families is readily apparent in their commitment to each family. One parent recently reported, "I just wanted to let you know how pleased we are with the Global Student Network homeschooling site. My daughter has not had any problems following the instructions she gets in the lesson plan. Because of this, she is very eager to log in every day to begin her school work, which in turn will allow her to meet her goal . . . early graduation! We are very pleased with the decision we made to enroll in your online classes. Thanks to all of you for helping make her feel great about her accomplishments. She told me the other day that she received an e-mail from your office acknowledging the completion of one of her classes. That e-mail meant so much to her. The thought of someone else noticing her accomplishments and taking the time to write to her to let her know, meant so much to her, I can not even begin to tell you. These kids need so much positive feedback to keep them going and thinking of their goals." -- G.S.N.