Support our mission

Government funding for a home-schooling program that serves about 400 students — most of them in the Pacific region overseas — will end this summer, the Department of Defense Education Activity announced last week.

Harvey Gerry, chief of policy and legislation for DODEA, said in a phone interview Thursday that congressional funding for the Remote Home School Program has run out and the agency has said it can’t continue to fund it.

“If we were receiving the level of funding that we have received in the recent past, we would still have the program,” he said.

The funding totaled about $4 million this school year.

Slighty more than 350 pupils in Japan, Okinawa, South Korea and Guam will be affected when program funding is discontinued, said Elaine Kanellis, DODEA public affairs officer, in an e-mail to Stars and Stripes, noting that not all home-schoolers within DODEA participated in the program.

The Remote Home School Program began in 2001 when congressional funding was made available. Any student who was eligible for space-required, tuition-free enrollment at a Department of Defense Dependents school could enroll in the program, Kanellis said.

DODEA’s goal was to provide a comprehensive and professional-supported virtual school program for dependents of servicemembers and Defense Department civilians in grades K-12, she said. The program contract provided a choice of learning materials, appropriate grade-level curriculum, training workshops for parents and students and support from certified teachers to help parents with planning, lesson development, instruction and assessment, Kanellis said.

Candice Abel, who home schools her four children at Misawa Air Base in northern Japan, said the funding change affects pupils enrolled in WorldWide IDEA, the Alaska contractor hired to provide the service.

At Misawa, about 30 families are enrolled in IDEA, said Abel, who also is the WorldWide IDEA representative for the Misawa area.

On average, home schooling a child costs about $700 for books, supplies and other materials, Abel said.

“I think it’s unfortunate,” she said of the funding loss, “because it is a financial burden for some people to home school. We’re still going to try to work hard to get the program funded,” possibly through other government grants.

Parents who live in an existing U.S. military community will be given the choice of enrolling children in a DODEA school or a local public school or continuing in a home school program of their choice, at their expense, DODEA officials said.

“DODEA will assist these students and their families with any choice they make regarding future education plans,” Kanellis said. The agency, she added, will continue to support families who choose to home school and wish to participate in extra-curricular activities and standardized testing programs or to attend selected courses of their choice at a DODEA school.

Most families in the agency-sponsored home-school program live in communities served by DODEA schools, officials said.

Abel said WorldWide IDEA offers a private, accredited home-schooling program that parents could purchase when government funding runs out.

For active-duty parents, annual cost is $675 per child and $945 for two to four children.

Abel’s family is making a permanent change-of-station move before the start of the new school year and plans to continue home schooling.

Frequent PCS moves is why she home schooled her kids in the first place, she said: “With all the moving, my kids were behind. I wanted them to have a consistent education. I can offer that here.”

Gerry said pupils who live in remote locations and lack access to the agency’s schools will be given the opportunity to attend local or international schools, take correspondence courses or receive home-school instruction — all paid by DODEA.

“We truly regret the disruption this may cause students and families,” Joseph Tafoya, DODEA director, was quoted in a news release as saying. “We do not take this decision lightly — it is the result of careful analysis of the needs of our directed mission.”

author picture
Jennifer reports on the U.S. military from Kaiserslautern, Germany, where she writes about the Air Force, Army and DODEA schools. She’s had previous assignments for Stars and Stripes in Japan, reporting from Yokota and Misawa air bases. Before Stripes, she worked for daily newspapers in Wyoming and Colorado. She’s a graduate of the College of William and Mary in Virginia.
twitter Email

Stripes in 7

around the web

Sign Up for Daily Headlines

Sign-up to receive a daily email of today’s top military news stories from Stars and Stripes and top news outlets from around the world.

Sign up