Why We Attend Online Public SchOOlS

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1 Why We Attend Online Public Schools

2 Table of Contents Introduction... 1 Falling Behind... 2 Advanced Learner... 4 Health Issues... 6 Bullying... 8 Beyond the Classroom Special Needs TENNESSEE PARTICIPANTS Survey relates to student socialization outside the home Survey conducted month of August 2013 EXTRA-CURRICULAR PARTICIPATION 74% 3+ HOURS/WEEK PEER SOCIALIZATION 77% 3+ HOURS/WEEK II

3 Introduction The Tennessee Chapter of PublicSchoolOptions.org is comprised of parents, teachers and families across our state who support and advocate for greater school choice for all Tennessee students. In an effort to inform more Tennesseans about the benefits of school choice, we asked virtual schools families in our state to share their specific stories about how pubic virtual schools are working for their children. PublicSchoolOptions.org supports all public schools and realizes that the traditional neighborhood brick and mortar schools work for many students -- but not all students. That is why we believe parents need more options for their children public and private, charter, virtual and homeschooling, in addition to traditional public schools. While there is solid support for school choice in Tennessee, there is still more work to be done. Our organization believes that education funding should follow each student to the school that best fits their needs. After all, it s about doing what s best for each child s public education. We hope you will review this scrapbook about Tennessee families and students to learn more about the benefits that online public schools are offering families in our state. We want everyone to know why state-approved online public school programs are the right fit our children. You can learn more about our non-profit organization by visiting Please join us in our efforts to ensure that opportunities for school choice continue to grow here in Tennessee. Thank You, Michelle Hamidi Bradley County Jennifer Martinez Shelby County Holly Wooten Cheatham County Co-chairs, PublicSchoolOptions.org Tennessee Chapter WHY WE ATTEND ONLINE PUBLIC SCHOOLS 1

4 Falling Behind SARAH E., PLEASANT HILL Cayden, 3rd grade My son was an A student, but then he started the second grade and began falling behind. Despite many meetings with his teacher and the school, I was not informed of the issues he was having. I was completely unaware he didn t know facts that would be considered common knowledge, like where the Equator is located. At home he can get work done more efficiently and I know how far he has gotten in his schoolwork. CINDY W., LEXINGTON David, 3rd grade, Rebekah, 1st grade My children have had more handson learning experience this year. I have seen a huge change in the way they want to learn and look forward to school work. I have three children who are very different in every way and they all love online public school. Most importantly, my autistic child is getting the one-on-one attention he needs to learn and make a bright future for himself. 2

5 42% TAKE MUSIC LESSONS OR PLAY AN INSTRUMENT CARRIE H., PARROTTSVILLE Violet, 3rd grade I was so frustrated with my daughter s brick and mortar school that by the start of second grade, we decided to enroll her in an online school. When we pulled her out her teacher told me she couldn t do simple arithmetic. Within a month of learning the online curriculum, my child was doing long addition and subtraction. We are now in our second year and already my daughter is reading at a higher grade level, as well as a higher level in math and science. HEATHER M., WALLAND Brandon, 7th grade At our online school we have teachers that care about Brandon s progress. They possess all the valuable information necessary to provide the right intervention Brandon needs to overcome his learning disability. Now, things don t get lost or fall through the cracks like they did at his former brick and mortar school. CONNIE S., GAINESBORO Jared, 2nd grade Jared went to preschool for two years prior to attending kindergarten at our local elementary school. His kindergarten year was a road of ups and downs, and he had a hard time waiting his turn to ask a question or do activities in the classroom. When Jared got bored during class time he would leave the classroom and read alone in the library. It made it hard on the teacher, Jared and us as parents. Since enrolling him in the online school it has given me a spark of hope that he has what it takes to succeed academically. BRAD K., MCMINNVILLE Aiden, 8th grade Aiden completes all his academic requirements at his own pace without teacher and peer distractions, which are what led him to fall behind in the first place. Since going to virtual school, his behavior and attitude toward learning has greatly improved. WHY WE ATTEND ONLINE PUBLIC SCHOOLS 3

6 Advanced Learner DRAKE K., LAVERGNE Brendan, 8th grade Destiny, 6th grade I can say that virtual school has given Brendon and Destiny the chance to learn at a pace that suits their advanced capabilities, and has given me the opportunity to be more hands-on with their education. It has also eliminated any bullying or intimidation they have received in past public school settings from other students. HEATHER H., ONEIDA Brody, 1st grade Brody is an extremely smart, over-achieving student. Our local public school did not have the means to adequately challenge my child to the extent an online school has been able to. He would have gotten bored and likely not enjoyed school. With online school, he has the opportunity to excel in class and enjoy more of an individualized education. If he is excelling in one subject, his teacher puts him in the advanced class and he has the option to move on. 4

7 36% PARTICIPATE IN ORGANIZED ARTS ACTIVITIES MILLISSA D., ATHENS Gavin, 3rd grade, Mackenzie, 2nd grade Gavin had a hard time in our local public school. The teachers and I were struggling trying to figure out how to help him. He pretended that he didn t know anything! So, we pulled him out and started him in an online school. He blew us away with what he knew and how fast he learned. When he scored very high on his end of the year math TCAP, we decided if it works for him, chances are it would work for our daughter Mackenzie, too. So far it s been a win-win for the whole family. BARBARA M., COOKEVILLE Brandy, Kindergarten My daughter was far too advanced for what she was learning in our local public school - with the online school she can take assessment tests to confirm what she already knows then she can move to the next lesson. This greatly helps keep her from getting bored while doing her school work! MEGAN B., SMYRNA Jayden, 3rd grade, Landon, 1st grade, Emma, Kindergarten My children do better when they learn at their own speed. Jayden and Landon are advanced learners. At their online school they have the option of skipping a lesson, mastering out, and moving on. My boys were bored in the brick in mortar school, but now they maintain a pace that works for them. ANGELA M., MCMINNVILLE Robert, 4th grade Robert did not do well in a classroom setting. He was constantly disrupting his classmates because he would rush through his work and then spend the rest of his time trying to make people laugh or talking with the other children. Now, he can focus and understands that he can work at his own pace and as he completes his work, move on to something new and not have to wait until everyone else is done. WHY WE ATTEND ONLINE PUBLIC SCHOOLS 5

8 Health Issues VERLAN F., GALLATIN Harvest, 8th grade, Verell, 7th grade, Jordan 6th grade, Jedia, 6th grade Our former brick and mortar school had little to no communication from teachers and administrators with parents, along with an unchallenging curriculum. Our online school was a ray of sunshine on a gloomy day. It gives the flexibility to deal with our children s health issues without sacrificing attendance something that is very important to our family. I would love for my children to eventually graduate from high school through an online school. NATALIE M., WATAUGA Deirdree, 3rd grade Online public school has been an extremely positive experience for our family. Deirdree went to kindergarten at our local public school and was sick with an illness she caught from another student every other week. She was exposed to lice and severe stomach viruses which made her sick and required that she be sent home from school. She also suffered head colds constantly. Since Deirdree started attending the virtual school, she hasn t been ill. It s been a breath of fresh air to have my daughter back to her former happy and healthy self. 6

9 35% PLAY AN ORGANIZED SPORT GLYNN T., KNOXVILLE William, 8th grade William was very delayed in his physical, emotional and mental development. He did not walk until after his fourth birthday. He is classified within the autism spectrum, suffers from depressive symptoms and has always participated in special education programs. The level of stress was so severe in the public brick and mortar school that he frequently became physically sick. Now that we re at an online school these problems are greatly mitigated. He is still having difficulties, but here he has freedom from terror and lots of attention from his teachers. CHRISTY P., JASPER Emma, 1st grade Our experience with Emma s online school has been wonderful. She is able to focus completely on schoolwork. While she has medical conditions requiring many doctor visits, with the flexibility of her school schedule, she never misses anything. I would recommend online school to anyone. It requires a lot of work from the student and their learning coach, but every minute is worth the effort because it s tailored to her individual needs. KRISTI M., POWELL Jacob, 5th grade, Zachary, 3rd grade My youngest son Zachary was constantly sick at our brick and mortar school. As soon as I would get him better and send him back to class, he d be sick again within a couple days. The school had mold issues that ended up being the cause of his illness. Finally, his doctors told me he would need to be homebound. So, I decided if I pulled him out I would pull Jacob out of school as well. Let s just say this is the best choice I made for my boys. Zachary has been able to come off more than half of his medication and is healthier than he ever was during the three years he attended our local public school. SUSAN H., CROSS PLAINS Ozella, 2nd grade Ozella has severe food allergies, and it s been a tremendous improvement for her quality of life now that she can learn in a safe environment. We can also provide her with a more advanced education than she would ve received at our local public school, which didn t offer many advanced classes for students in her grade level. WHY WE ATTEND ONLINE PUBLIC SCHOOLS 7

10 Bullying JANICE D., DRUMMOND Jonathan, 7th grade, Lillian, 5th grade Jonathan and Lillian are much happier now at their online school than they ever were at our local brick and mortar. Neither of them cry before school every morning like they used to do. They hated school and were picked on by other students, and my son in particular was physically threatened by one of his classmates. The bottom line is I will not be sending my kids to any other school. We love it, and it is the only school for us! JESSICA O., WATERTOWN Gavin, 4th grade, Silas, 1st grade I was seeking another school option because our local brick and mortar was a very poorly performing school. We had also dealt with quite a bit of bullying. As I researched other options, I discovered the online school we attend now. It is a blessing! The kids love it, and this year was the first year Gavin and Silas both said they re excited about school starting! 8

11 74% SAID BULLYING WAS A FACTOR IN SWITCHING SCHOOLS JANE C., CHATTANOOGA Lane, 8th grade Lane has hit his stride in his online schooling both socially and academically. He no longer worries about being bullied because he doesn t have the same accent or background as his classmates. CHRISTINE C., KNOXVILLE Kyra, 6th grade My daughter is very smart, loves science and art, and is good at math. Because of this she was teased and bullied with little care or intervention from the school administration. She had gone from loving to learn to hating getting up and going to school every morning. Online school has sparked her love of learning again! She wakes up in the morning excited about the school day ahead and is very engaged in her education. MELISSA H., MILLINGTON Morgan, 10th grade Morgan has become her old happy, joyful self again at her new online school. She is no longer called names, pushed down in the hallways or made fun of when she asks the teacher a question. She has become more self-confident and loves her school work again. She has gotten to a point where she is more assertive having conversations with others and does not fear being picked on if she asks a stupid question. Overall, Morgan is a much happier teen. WHY WE ATTEND ONLINE PUBLIC SCHOOLS 9

12 Beyond the Classroom MONIKA L., BRENTWOOD Jessica, 7th grade Our decision to enroll in an online school was made not because our local brick and mortar was inadequate, but because the online school could provide Monika with an independent learning environment. She wanted a much more flexible schedule so she could do more of the outside activities she loves. Now, she spends a lot of time at a local barn and volunteers at an animal shelter. FELICIA M., JOHNSON CITY Matty, 5th grade, Moses, 3rd grade Matty and Moses are more socialized in their online public school because they are not stuck in a classroom all day with the same kids. We are able to take our classroom anywhere. They participate in three local farmers markets, community activities and summer camps. They play basketball and fast pitch softball which is much more competitive than school ball. Matty and Moses are constantly meeting and talking to new people on a daily basis. 10

13 15% PARTICIPATE IN BOY SCOUTS OR GIRL SCOUTS JILL M., NASHVILLE Audrey, 1st grade The virtual school curriculum is much more advanced and engages Audrey in multiple ways traditional school couldn t offer. Since she s been at her online school, we ve become involved in many activities that appealed to my daughter s interests. She has already achieved her goal of reading twenty-five books in two weeks. She takes Irish step dancing classes once a week as well as horseback riding lessons and art classes with friends. We have promised her she can take violin lessons when she turns seven and perform at local farmers markets. Enrolling Audrey in the school was the best decision ever! PAMELA W., SWEETWATER Jalyn, 6th grade The most positive elements of Jalyn s online school are freedom of time and place as well as a challenging and well-rounded curriculum. My family is currently moving frequently in order to make it possible for my husband to work as a journeyman wireman, so online schooling allows us to maintain stability and consistency where education is concerned. Jalyn is also a visual artist who shows art work and participates in professional development workshops. With online school, he can take advantage of these opportunities regularly without missing class, allowing the best situation for us. KAREN J., HARROGATE Joseph, 2nd grade We love the flexibility of our online school. My son can participate in local plays, attends community events and can still get all of his school work done. He can also work at different grade levels for each subject, so he enjoys learning and does his best in all his coursework. WHY WE ATTEND ONLINE PUBLIC SCHOOLS 11

14 Special Needs EDITH D., CLARKSVILLE Ray, 8th grade Ray is diagnosed on the autistic spectrum. When he was in a traditional school, he was bullied. The teacher did not respond to his needs or try to help him. I felt they were not experienced with autistic children. Now, his grades are much better, he s learning in a much more supportive environment and he can work on his own pace. TWYLA L., KNOXVILLE Ryan, 4th grade My son Ryan has Asperger s syndrome. From kindergarten through the second grade, there were several notes sent home relaying behavior problems that had happened involving my son. When I stated I needed to observe what was going on so I could determine the trigger for the behavior, I was refused permission over and over again. I jumped at the chance to put my son in virtual school. It hasn t been easy, but I m very sure this is what is best for him. 12

15 60% PARTICIPATE IN COMMUNITY SERVICE KIMBERLY R., KNOXVILLE Ariana, 5th grade For Ariana, online school has given her the opportunity to finally get a quality education. At her previous school, she wasn t challenged, encouraged and had no expectations from teachers. Ariana is autistic and I feel most kids like her are isolated from a real education and developing relationships with peers in a traditional school. Now, we are able to pinpoint her weaknesses and address them step by step. The love of learning has come back and her confidence grows every day. NICHOLAS F., RIPLEY Kaden, 5th grade The online school has been a great success for my autistic son s education. With me being readily available, I am actively, and positively, able to deal with breakdowns that usually turn out very bad otherwise. The instructors at the school have been extremely understanding with Kaden s issues, and the time needed to deal with negative behaviors. NATALIE L., FRANKLIN Ayden, 4th grade, Logan, 2nd grade My oldest child Ayden was having a hard time completing work and staying focused during class. He was often put at a table by himself in the classroom, forced to finish his work during recess and at home in addition to his homework assignents. Without ever asking me to have him evaluated for Attention Deficit Disorder, his teacher suggested strongly that I have him medicated. But, since attending the online school he s had academic success and does not get distracted by his peers. WHY WE ATTEND ONLINE PUBLIC SCHOOLS 13

16 THE PROBLEM AND SOLUTION: While Tennessee offers a variety of school choice options, there have been attempts over the past year to limit or eliminate these educational options. New and arbitrary standards have been applied to schools of choice that are unlike those applied to traditional schools. PublicSchoolOptions.org supports accountability measures and high learning standards, but in fairness, we also believe that all public schools should be held to the same level of standards, accountability measures and regulations. Our organization supports all public schools and believes that parents and teachers know what s best for each student s individual learning needs. That s why our organization has joined a broader Tennessee School Choice Coalition consisting of a diverse team of organizations, policymakers and elected officials; business, For community, additional information and religious please leaders; contact: parents, teachers and administrators; and other Tennesseans all working together to dramatically expand student achievement and learning PO options Box 3230 for families and students in our state. This broad school choice organization Arlington, will focus VA on making sure that parents have a greater voice in the public debate -- to promote greater choice, to ensure educational funding follows the student, and to reward performance through merit based recognitions. FOR ADDITIONAL INFORMATION PLEASE CONTACT: Tennessee Chapter of PublicSchoolOptions.org (866)

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