The k12.* hierarchy of newsgroups

The Usenet newsgroups in the k12.* hierarchy are for the discussion of topics related to the education of students in kindergarten through twelfth grade, epecially in mathématiques.
This site is under development. The goal is to provide information about the k12.* hierarchy, such as its origin and history, its purpose, configuration of the individual groups, and topical information about the groups.

The website has:

The History of the k12.* newsgroups

The following narrative is my best recollection of the “facts” concerning K12NET and the k12.* newsgroups. If you had any association with either of these, and would like to send corrections or add information that is lacking, please send e-mail to --Sheila King
During the late 1980’s to early 1990’s, before the Internet was available to many private citizens, there was another network, a hobbyist’s network, called FidoNET. (While FidoNET is still in existence today, it is much less active than it was in its heyday.)

At that time, FidoNET was an extremely active discussion network, hosting many “conferences”, or discussion fora. One of the conferences, called EDUCATOR, was a forum for teachers to discuss issues related to their job. During the summer of 1990, some educators who had met on-line, conceived of and founded K12NET, a network for and about education in grades K-12. For more information about the early beginnings of K12NET and the early history of the FidoNET distribution system, visit

K12NET was distributed through the FidoNET distribution system from 1990 until about 1999. The k12.* hierarchy were created in 1991 and somewhere around 1992/1993 there was a gateway put in place between the Usenet k12.* hierarchy of newsgroups and the K12NET “conferences” distributed through FidoNET. This gateway remained in place until about 1995, allowing discussion and interaction to procede between persons accessing the forums via FidoNET and those accessing the forums through Usenet.

At the time that the k12.* newsgroups were created, the persons who created the groups did not believe they would be able to find moderators for the groups, and they did not feel moderation would be necessary. Not many people had Internet access at that time, and spam and flaming was not so widespread. Most people who had access to the Internet followed standard netiquette. As time went by, and more people gained Internet access, off-topic and inappropriate discussions became more common in the k12.* newsgroups. It was felt that school children could not be exposed to unmoderated Usenet newsgroups, and the gateway between the Usenet k12.* groups and the K12NET FidoNET conferences was shut down in 1995. It was thought that the gateway would some day be re-established, if moderators for the k12.* newsgroups could be found.

In the meantime, traffic in the K12NET FidoNET conferences began to decline. More and more people and schools were gaining access to the Internet, which was faster, and in some cases less expensive, than FidoNET distribution. Some participants in K12NET thought that re-establishing the gateway between the Usenet k12.* groups and the K12NET FidoNET conferences could revitalize dying discussion fora on the FidoNET side. However, some K12NET System Operators were unwilling to put such a gateway in place unless the Usenet groups were moderated. They did not want to expose the school children who used the K12NET conferences to any risks or inappropriate material.

Finally in the summer of 1997, an experiment was agreed upon. One newsgroup would be converted to moderated status and gated to the corresponding K12NET FidoNET conference. This would be a test case, and if all went well, other groups might later follow. A volunteer was found to moderate the k12.ed.math newsgroup. While this experiment had a few difficulties, overall it was a success. But it didn’t really “rejuvenate” the discussions in K12NET’s K12_MATH_ED conference. And volunteer moderators for other newsgroups seemed impossible to locate. At one point it seemed, in the summer of 1998, like a volunteer had been located to moderate, but in the end that fell through.

There was also a problem with maintaining a gateway between the k12.* newsgroups and the K12NET FidoNET conferences. In 1998 the gateway went down, never to be reconnected. About a year later, the FidoNET side of K12NET collapsed, due to lack of participation.

Now all that remains of K12NET is the k12.* hierarchy of newsgroups on Usenet.

List of newsgroups in the k12.* hierarchy

Below is a list of all the newsgroups carried in the k12.* hierarchy and a bit of information on the topic of each group. Where other resources on the group are available, such as a FAQ or website, a link is provided.
Originally intended as a forum where elementary school students could chat with each other. Currently in use by some elementary teachers as a chat area for elementary teachers.
Originally envisioned as a chat forum for junior high school students. No clear purpose at this time.
Originally envisioned as a chat forum for senior high school students. No clear purpose at this time.
Casual conversation for teachers of grades kindergarten through twelve. Visit the website and FAQ.
Arts and crafts curricula in kindergarten through twelfth grade education.
Business education curricula in kindergarten through twelfth grades.
Teaching computer literacy in grades K-12.
Health and physical education curricula in grades K-12.
Home economics, career education, and school counseling.
Mathematics education in grades K-12. This group is moderated. Visit the k12.ed.math website.
Music and Performing Arts education in grades K-12.
Science curriculum and education in grades K-12.
Social Studies and History curricula in grades K-12.
Educating students with special needs.
Educating gifted and talented students in grades K-12.
Technical and vocational education in grades K-12.
Language arts education in grades K-12.
Bilingual german/english conversation.
Bilingual spanish/english conversation.
French conversation practice.
Japanese/english conversation practice.
Russian/english conversation practice.
Implementing information technologies in libraries.
News and announcements about the k12.* hierarchy.
The k12.sys.projects newsgroup was supposed to be a meta-discussion about setting up inter-school projects, where students communicated with each other through electronic mail as part of the project. There were twelve “channels”: k12.sys.channel1, k12.sys.channel2, …, k12.sys.channel12. Teachers were supposed to request the use of a channel from the projects coordinator in the k12.sys.projects forum. Then the project coordinator would assign a particular channel for that project. While this model worked well in the FidoNET distribution, it has gone largely unused in the Usenet k12.* groups. Since the groups are not moderated anyway, it is very difficult to control their use. They seem to have no specific purpose at this time, except as spam traps.


The purpose of is to promote the k12.* hierarchy of newsgroups. These newsgroups are designed to be used by teachers, parents and students involved in kindergarten through twelfth grade education. seeks to serve as a central location of information for all the k12.* newsgroups. It is a voluntary effort by the k12.ed.math moderator. The webmaster of seeks assistance from other regular participants in the k12.* hierarchy in developing and maintaining this resource. Many resources can be made available, including web space and facilities to maintain FAQs (Frequently Asked Questions lists) about either the hierarchy or the individual newsgroups.

Feel free to contact the webmaster with questions, offers of assistance or requests for resources.


You can help out at the website.

If you are familiar with the origins and history of K12Net, FidoNet, or the k12.* newsgroups, you could assist in contributing to and maintaining the Origins and History page.

If you are a regular participant in any of the k12.* newsgroups, you could help maintain FAQs or web pages related to those groups.

If you have any other ideas for contributing, please contact the with your suggestions or ideas.

For announcements relating to the k12.* hierarchy, read the newsgroup

contact the webmaster: