Last-minute change upsets parents who home school kids
CAMP FOSTER, Okinawa — In May, Lea Anne Sattler started planning the curriculum she’d teach her 15- and 13-year-old children, whom she schools at home.
In July she ordered all her materials and organized lesson plans.
Then Aug. 15 — just a week or two before the school year was to begin — she got a letter that halted her plans.
The Department of Defense Education Activity had awarded the contract for its Remote Location Home School Program to a new company.
“Now I have to start over with new teachers,” Sattler said, referring to the company’s employees who advise parents.
Sattler and some others said they’re upset about the timing of the provider switch and concerned about the new company’s accreditation and experience.
WorldWide IDEA was awarded the contract Aug. 7 after the bidding process ended June 16, according to Harvey Gerry, Department of Defense Education Activity chief of policy and legislation.
Lea Anne’s husband, Grant Sattler, called it “incomprehensible timing.”
“It shows that DoDEA does not understand that home education does not begin the day DODDS schools open their doors,” he stated in an e-mail.
Gerry said bidding for the new contract could not begin until the Defense Department’s fiscal 2006 budget was final. He also said that to award the contract, DODEA had to follow government competitive-bidding procedures.
Tim Cline, IDEA-International executive director, said he was told DODEA rated both his company and WorldWide IDEA as qualified to bid and that WorldWide IDEA was the lower bidder, by about 2 percent.
The total contract price was not immediately available.
“We are fully staffed,” Cline stated in an e-mail, “with the infrastructure in place to deliver on this contract immediately.” Also, he said, his company has two different accreditations while “the other company still has all of these issues yet to be put in place.”
Carl Knudsen, president of WorldWide IDEA, stated in an e-mail that the four-year-old company is prepared to serve the roughly 400 military families enrolled in the program. WorldWide IDEA has gotten initial funding from DODEA and was doing teacher training last weekend.
He said parents will find the system similar but will have “more hands-on time educating their children and less time dealing with paperwork.”
The company has applied for the same accreditation as IDEA-International and expects it will be in place within two months, Knudsen said, adding that many of the teachers and field representatives from IDEA-International now are working with WorldWide IDEA.
Still, home-school parent Nan Hoch of Camp Zama said the provider switch has put everything on hold, and she is frustrated her eighth-grader is getting started late.
“The new company is not even accredited yet,” she said. “I don’t understand why this place was granted the contract. The Web site isn’t very substantial.”
Gerry said DODEA is confident the new company will do a good job, saying it provides a “well-developed program, which includes a high quality of support for home-schooling families.”
Home schooling 101
WorldWide IDEA has set up a temporary phone number to help home-school families with the transition to the company. Parents can call 1-888-542-4332, e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org or send mail to:
WorldWide IDEA9330 Vanguard Dr., Suite 101Anchorage, AK 99507
Overseas families previously enrolled with the former provider will be enrolled automatically with WorldWide IDEA but they must send their PCS orders to Amanda Hoke at: email@example.com
Additional information can be found at: www.worldwide-idea.org.
For information about IDEA-International, visit: www.intidea.org.