By: Tillie Elvrum
Summertime is filled with some of my favorite activities: road trips with my family, outdoor concerts, and home improvement projects. An even bigger reason to celebrate this time of year? It’s the 25th of anniversary of charter schools! June 4th marked 25 years of providing parents and families with options.
Typically, a 25th anniversary is symbolized with silver. But I think gold is more appropriate!
Why, you ask? Well, let’s start with just a few families, including mine, who have benefited from charter schools.
For my son J.D., school choice has been a blessing. After teacher strikes and classroom chaos in our local brick and mortar school interfered with his ability to learn, we found online schools. As we moved around the country to Pennsylvania, Ohio, and Colorado, all offered a free, virtual option for us. That meant J.D. had much needed continuity in his education, and in May 2015, he graduated from Colorado Connections Academy. J.D. just completed his first year at our local community college. He is thriving!
PublicSchoolOptions.org (PSO) President Emeritus Beth Purcell, from South Carolina, knows how important choice is. Her daughter Cassidy graduated from South Carolina Connections Academy just last Friday. Cassidy was born with a health condition that made a traditional classroom setting difficult for her. Virtual school provided both Cassidy and Beth the flexibility to complete her coursework at her own pace and work from the comfort of home.
Haley, from Hargrove, Alabama, is deaf and wears a cochlear implant. She relies on reading lips, so a brick-and-mortar school proved to be exhausting. Thankfully, her parents found the Alabama Virtual Academy where Haley can focus on her school work without all the distractions of a busy classroom.
These are just three of countless stories from across the country about families who have benefited from the charter schools.. Without these public school options, students would have continued to attend schools that weren’t meeting their learning needs.
Education reform has come a long way in the last 25 — and there is still room for improvement.
As lawmakers discuss how to move forward, we hope they will consider asking us — parents — what works and what doesn’t. Because parents always deserve a seat at the table, just like teachers and administrators.