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Special Report: Alternative Education

Millions of families are turning away from traditional schools to take charge of their children's education.
Millions of families are turning away from traditional schools to take charge of their own children's education. These days, there are even more options for parents to choose from. In a CBS47 Special Report, Zara Arboleda takes a look at the changing face of home-schooling.

Nadine Blumenshine is wife, mom, teacher and principal at her Clovis home. She has home-schooled all three of her children, since her oldest was 5. “That's the priority for us in choosing homeschooling. It's our relationship within our family, my husband and our children," said Nadine.

16-year-old Dixie, 13-year-old Gemma, and 9-year-old Marco are three of the two million students in the United States who are home schooled. Parents don’t need certification, students aren’t subject to state standardized exams, like the STAR test, and there aren’t mandated curriculums to follow. “For us, it’s just a part of life,” says Nadine. “And part of the way things flow. Every opportunity is a learning opportunity."

What Nadine finds liberating, though, some might find daunting. Places like Sierra Charter School are an option for parents seeking a middle ground. Teachers guide moms and dads, providing lesson plans and materials. Students must also meet face-to-face with their teacher at least once a week. They are also subject to all standardized testing rules. However, there’s more flexibility in how they learn.

Sierra Charter principal Lisa Marasco said, “We can slow them down. If they're zipping right through, we can speed them up. So they're very individualized, which you can't do at a traditional school or classroom, because it's just impossible for a teacher with 25-30 students to do that for every single student."

There are 1.6 million students nationwide who go through charter schools, but the fastest growing alternative is online schools, where everything is done through the computer.

Clovis Unified enrollment jumped from just 12 students 2 years ago to more than 550 today. This program allows a lot of flexibility, but more than a dozen teachers monitor online lessons and can tell when a student’s slacking, or in need of extra help - in real time.

Clovis Online principal Kevin Cookingham said, ”They’re really life coaches, motivators. They're people who get students to produce and if that doesn't happen, we'll actually drop them from our program."

Click on the related links for more information about home schooling.

Click here to watch extended interviews by the principals at Clovis Online and Sierra Charter.
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