By: Cherie Nielsen
This spring as I sat through meetings of the North Carolina Board of Education, it felt like families in the Tar Heel State would never have the opportunity to enroll in a virtual school of their own. The opportunity my kids had early in their education seemed so far away for the families I met in Raleigh. But they fought, they came to meetings, they advocated and made their voices heard, and countless meetings, approval processes, and interviews later — the school “doors” have officially opened.
I’m from southern Virginia, and my hometown is pretty close to our border with North Carolina. I feel a special kinship with my fellow parent advocates there. Heck, we’re all from the South. Let me bake you a casserole…
And just like a casserole takes a lot of ingredients and time to bake, so does the fight to bring a new model of education to a state. The ingredients include local parents, education experts, teachers, school choice leaders, legislative champions, and students who are going to benefit from a school that better fits their needs. Then we bake, and bake, and bake…through countless meetings. The legislature meets. They vote. Then it’s the State Board of Education’s turn. The school choice casserole baked for years in North Carolina.
In all seriousness, I’m proud of the work that PublicSchoolOptions.org and the North Carolina Chapter did to bring public virtual schools to their state. The best reward for all our efforts? 3,000 families being able to choose which educational environment is best for them.
As I read this column in the News-Observer, titled NC virtual school goal: Every child, every class, every day, it’s clear to me that these administrators and teachers take great pride in their jobs and will do everything necessary to ensure these students have an opportunity to succeed. As a parent, there’s nothing that calms my nerves more than knowing someone cares about my child and his or her well being, and that means getting the high-quality education they deserve.
To all the new virtual school students in North Carolina — and across the country — best of luck this year! We believe in your ability to choose the school that best fits your needs, and we believe in you!