A friend of mine told me recently that there is a big stink going up right now in Colorado because the students at the virtual schools (those half-way homeschooling, half-way public schooling spots) are doing extremely poorly on state tests compared to brick-and-mortar public school kids.
Why does this not surprise me?
Because with public schools, it's very clear who is in charge of your child's education: the teacher is, and the parent is a support.
In homeschools, it's very clear who is in charge of your child's education: the parent is.
But virtual schools take the power out of the parent's hands, some more aggressively than others. The parents don't decide what to teach or when, they don't decide what assignments actually need to be done and what to skip, or even how the assignments are to be completed. They are relegated to a support role. (In some states, this isn't as true with the virtual schools, and no doubt all virtual schools are different, but in the virtual school we went to here in Colorado, they made it very clear that the parents were not to consider themselves experts on education--they had the same disdain for parents that most public schools do). This is especially damaging because most of the parents who jump into virtual schools want to homeschool but have some reservations about their own abilities to do it--so they're getting the help of experts, but they don't have the confidence to buck the system and do it their own way (which is usually what makes homeschool work best--the parent doing it in the way that is most effective for them and for their own unique child).
But because the professional teachers are not the ones teaching the kids face-to-face, and they aren't interacting with them on a daily basis (or even at all--most schools require a once a week phone call or email with the parent), and they aren't actually looking the kid in the eyes to see if they get it, they are also relegated to a support role.
That leaves nobody primarily responsible for the child's education.
Is it any wonder the kids fall through the cracks?