Education advocates and parents in Georgia are working to get the word out about a state Department of Education policy change that could limit parental choices when it comes to education. They're warning that starting this fall, public schools in the state will no longer accept course credits from homeschooling entities, which is just one potential downside of homeschooling.
The claim has been making the rounds of the Georgia homeschooling and education blogs and after being mentioned on the Lilburn Patch, one reader submitted it to PolitiFact Georgia, a website that checks the veracity of various political rumors and claims.
So, is the policy, initially reported on the blog of the founder and operator of TNT Academy in Lilburn Nancy Gordeuk true or false? The answer is that it's a little bit of both. This spring, the Georgia Department of Education did indeed take up a rule change that could have an impact on homeschoolers. However, the board isn't prohibiting schools from accepting homeschooling classes for credit. Instead, it is mandating that each district adopt their own policies dealing with how they evaluate courses from non-traditional entities like home study programs, non-traditional educational centers and non-accredited schools.
The local systems are required to outline procedures for determining whether transfer courses meet the state-adopted curriculum, among other items.
"What we're saying in the policy is at the local level they have to develop policy around who they accept courses from," Matt Cardoza, a spokesman for the state Education Department, told us.
The state rules do not include a provision grandfathering existing centers and home school.
Cardoza could not provide information on how Gwinnett's school system was handling the state requirements, so we went to the source.
TNT Academy is operating in the Gwinnett School District and Gordeuk is claiming that district officials are planning to use the policy change adopted at the state level to shut down the school. That is not the case, according to Gwinnett spokeswoman Sloan Roach. The district will simply require that schools like TNT Academy administer state-mandated standardized exams to all their students – or an alternative district test – in order for the credits to be "validated."
Grades for course credit awarded through this process will be "pass" only and not appear as letter or number grades on report cards. High school transfer students must take any state-mandated tests including End-of-Course Tests.
"In the past, (Gwinnett schools) would accept credits from anybody accredited by the Georgia Accrediting Commission," Gordeuk said. With the changes, "I think it all comes down to an issue of Gwinnett not wanting people to know how many of their kids are failing their classes."
To sum up, Nancy Gordeuk, founder of a nontraditional education academy in Gwinnett County, said that the state Education Department changed its policies and will no longer accept class credits from home schools and facilities like hers.