Taking Artistic License With Enrollment

| Baltimore, MD, USA | Learning | December 12, 2014

(I work for an online charter school that enrolls students K-12. The program is funded by individual states, so the rules are exactly what you’d see in regular, physical public schools. A lot of people have a hard time understanding that. Applications are almost always done by parents for minor children, but we did occasionally get 18 year old students enrolling themselves in the 11th or 12th grades.)

Caller: “Hi! I wanted to start the application for enrollment.”

Me: “Sure! How many students will you be applying for?”

Caller: “Just one.”

Me: “All right, then. What grade is your student applying for?”

Caller: “Well, is it possible to take specific subjects?”

Me: “No, I’m afraid not. This is a state-funded program, so it does come as a full package. You would be able to take specific classes through our private school, though.”

Caller: “But the private school costs money, doesn’t it?”

Me: “That’s correct.”

Caller: “Okay, then I want to go with the regular version… It’s free right?”

Me: “Yes, the program is free as long as your state pays for it.”

Caller: “Oh, good! I want to apply for the 11th grade, then.”

Me: “Okay. What state do you live in?”

Caller: “Pennsylvania.”

Me: “Yes, your state does participate and will even pay for a laptop for your student to use while they’re enrolled in the program with us.”

Caller: “Ooooh, I get a laptop?”

Me: “Are you going to be the student?”

Caller: “Yes.”

Me: “Okay, that isn’t a problem. Are you 18?”

Caller: *laughs* “I was 18 YEARS ago.”

Me: *pause* “How old are you?”

Caller: “36.”

Me: *face-palm* “Your state will not pay for you to attend the 11th grade.”

Caller: “WHY NOT?!”

Me: “Ma’am, your state has a cap on the age allowed for students. In this case, the maximum age is 21. If you do need to complete your GED, there are many adult education programs that should be listed on Pennsylvania’s board of education website.”

Caller: “But, I don’t WANT to do those. I only want to take art! I just want to do the one class!”

Me: “You could take a class at your local community college instead. Taking a class with us is not going to be an option for you.”

Caller: “But you already do the classes for free! It wouldn’t hurt anything if I just snuck in there.”

Me: “No, ma’am, that is not how this works. We are paid by the STATE for each student in our classes. We do not allow members of the general public to attend our classes.”

Caller: “But it’s ONLINE, so it’s not like it costs you anything!”

Me: *face-palm harder* “We maintain the website, equipment used, pay the teachers, and manage the curriculum… It is not even close to costing nothing.

Caller: “OH, MY GOD! It’s not even a big deal! I just want to take art! Why are you discriminating against me?”

Me: “Because you are over the age limit.”

Caller: “THAT’S AGEIST. THAT’S DISCRIMINATION. I KNOW MY RIGHTS. YOU CAN’T DO THAT!”

Me: “It is the same as if you showed up to a high school during the day and demanded to attend their art class. They wouldn’t let you because you aren’t a student and you can’t enroll because you are over the age limit.”

Caller: “I WOULDN’T WANT TO ENROLL ANYWAY, IDIOT. I ALREADY GRADUATED FROM HIGH SCHOOL!”

Me: *pause* “Then why do you want to take 11th grade art so badly?” *exasperated*

Caller: “I don’t know! I just remember it being really fun! What’s the big deal?! You got an issue with people having fun?!”

(This went on for several more minutes, but she was just not satisfied with what I was telling her and refused to enroll in a community college art class because it would cost money. She wound up calling back several more times and her number was eventually blocked by the company.)

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