The Idaho Distance Education Academy (I-DEA), a statewide public charter school that offers research- based curriculum and professional guidance to home educators, has opened enrollment for the 2008-09 school year for grades K-12 and will be holding a series of informational meetings in May and June.
I-DEA is aimed at parents who prefer their children be educated in a home setting , but want the guidance of a certified teacher, curricular choice and online resources. The school has increased its enrollment cap and has space for an additional 350 students statewide,
“I-DEA’s model brings the full range of public school resources to parents that choose to educate their children at home,” said Laurie Wolfe, Curriculum Director for I-DEA. “Our model makes parents full partners in the education of their children, allowing them to customize instruction for the children and yet meet the state-adopted benchmarks.”
I-DEA is one of four statewide charter schools in Idaho and is a home-grown institution. Many I-DEA families left traditional schools because the schools felt too impersonal and did not provide the level of support they needed. I-DEA staff pride themselves on giving parents and students personalized contact and face-to-face support.
I-DEA also represents the advancements in public education that have taken place over the past 15 years. Charter schools, standards- based education, open enrollment, Internet instruction, customized instruction, dual enrollment in colleges and other practices have brought public education a long way from the traditional neighborhood school model.
The Story of I-DEA
I-DEA is unique among statewide charter schools because it offers a choice of curriculum and individualized instruction where certified teacher and parents work as partners. I-DEA is also unique in that it is chartered under a local school district (Whitepine School District in Deary, in northern Idaho). The other three schools are chartered under the Idaho Board of Education’s statewide charter school commission.
I-DEA got its start around six years ago, when Whitepine superintendent Daryl Bertelsen noticed there were a lot of parents in his district who taught at home and he wanted to bring public school services to them. Bertelsen consulted with colleagues in the Galena school district in Alaska, which, due to its scattered population, pioneered programs to bring public school services to parents who teach at home. These included giving parents a choice of curricula, using certified teachers to assist the parents, regular testing, setting up regional resource centers/libraries and using the Internet to keep tabs on progress and increase access to materials.
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