Liberty Christian School Online’s software allows students to interact
Parents who want to pull their children out of public school but don’t have the capacity to homeschool or access to private education have a new alternative.
Incorporating the latest technology, a top-rated Christian school in Texas is partnering with Point of View Ministries – creator of the popular Christian radio talk show – to launch an Internet-based 6th-12th grade program its founders believe is one-of-a-kind.
While there are many distance-learning programs that utilize the Internet, Liberty Christian School Online offers a full-time accredited program in real time that enables students to interact in a variety of ways – including visually – with their teachers and classmates.
For $6,000 annually – which covers tuition, books and software – students can participate in the acclaimed college-prep program at Liberty Christian School in Argyle, Texas, near Dallas. The 26-year-old school has been ranked as the state’s No. 1 private school five of the last six years by the Texas Association of Private and Parochial Schools.
The new online campus also offers individual classes to homeschooling families.
Point of View President Warren Kelly told WND the online school, which begins the third week of August, was developed in response to the needs of radio listeners who live in areas where a quality Christian education is not available.
“‘Point of View’ has been advocating getting children out of the public school system for many years,” Kelly said. “But many parents have responded that they don’t feel they are capable of homeschooling their children, and there is not a private Christian school in their community, or they can’t afford it.”
“Point of View” is a two-hour, issues-oriented live talk radio program hosted by Kerby Anderson. WorldNetDaily founder and CEO Joseph Farah has served as a guest host. The show was founded by the late Marlin Maddoux, regarded as a pioneer in the talk radio industry. Maddoux also launched the USA Radio Network, which now is carried by more than 1,300 stations nationwide.
Kelly said the need to find alternatives to public schooling is evident in a survey by evangelical pollster George Barna indicating 90 percent of evangelical children graduate from high school without even a basic semblance of Christian values.
Liberty Christian School Online’s software includes a whiteboard accessible by students as well as the teacher
“Evangelicals as a whole are beginning to finally realize that they are losing the next generation and that a key element to that is the public education system,” Kelly said. “The bottom line is public education is specifically designed to take the values that you’ve instilled in your child and replace them with moral relativism and humanism.”
Kelly said Liberty Christian Online is the only school he is aware of that offers classes “fully interactive full-time.” A couple of other educational programs, he added, are using the same software – Elluminate Live! – but only one day a week.
When Kelly and his colleagues began conceiving the program, they agreed it was essential that teachers be able to interact with students during class and after school hours.
“Otherwise you’re back to where the parent is having to figure out how to do geometry,” he said. “For most parents, it’s tough to do, and that’s when they get intimidated by it and they quit.”
Kelly said that point of frustration is also when parents who homeschool their children through elementary school “start thinking about putting them someplace else, and we wanted to provide an alternative.”
The online students at Liberty will have a teacher for each subject who will preside over a class of about 20-25 students.
Aside from how students “commute,” the classroom experience will be virtually the same, Kelly said.
“Anything you can do in a physical classroom we can do over the Internet,” he said. “A child can ask questions, he can raise his hand when he doesn’t understand something, he can come in after hours for tutoring. The teacher can pass out papers, take up papers, write problems on the board in the front of the class and ask a particular student to finish the problem.”
The software, he said, provides a section on the screen that can be used as a virtual whiteboard or to run Power Point and video presentations.
Graduates of Liberty Christian School Online, Kelly said, “will have the same high-quality of academics” as students at the physical campus “and they will have a fully accredited diploma when they graduate.”
Virtually every child who has graduated from the brick-and-mortar campus goes on to college, Kelly noted, and 85 percent go to the college of their first choice.
The 26-year-old Argyle, Texas, school, Kelly pointed out, also was launched in response to the “Point of View” broadcast. Founder Rodney Haire, whose wife was a “Point of View” listener, began having concerns about the school his children were attending. His wife gave him a copy of Marlin Maddoux’s book on education and had him listen to the radio program.
“He decided he really had to put his kids into a private school,” Kelly said, “but he couldn’t find one of the quality he felt it needed to be, so he started one of his own.”
Kelly said the school is not connected to any church denomination but “holds to the basic core values of a conservative evangelical body.”
There’s still room for more to register for the inaugural 2009-2010 school year, according to Kelly, who said the target enrollment is 500 students.
In future years, however, he believes the capacity will be virtually unlimited.
“It’s entirely possible to run half-a-million kids at the same time without really even breaking a sweat to the software,” he said. “That just means hiring more teachers.”
The teachers, Kelly pointed out, can be located anywhere in the world where there’s a good Internet connection.
For the first year or two, he said, the online teachers will have a work space on campus “to be sure we’re creating the same heart that Liberty’s physical campus has.”
For parents who must work and can’t leave their children home alone, Liberty also offers partnerships with local churches willing to provide space where the students can log on to their classes with a supervisor on site.
The partnering church’s only obligation is to recruit a volunteer parent or grandparent, or perhaps a church staff member, who can keep an eye on the children and ensure they are safe.