NASHVILLE, Tenn., April 1, 2015 – As PublicSchoolOptions.org (PSO) continues to aid Tennessee families in their fight to prevent bureaucrats in the state Department of Education from closing the Tennessee Virtual Academy (TNVA), we are highlighting families who have chosen public virtual schools as the best fit for their children. For more information or to talk to virtual school families, please contact PSO.
Family: The Blankinships of Milan
Child: Jack (Age 6)
We left the public school model because our son, Jack, was diagnosed with early onset schizophrenia at age 6. The traditional public schools had no idea how to handle his mental illness in the classroom, and they didn’t want to understand the reasons for having to leave school for the day for his various medical and therapy appointments. So, we searched for better options. TNVA rose to the top due to its awesome flexibility. We were able to still teach Jack and get his lessons done on our own time (when he wasn’t at appointments, and when he felt good enough to attempt learning at the moment.) Without TNVA I don’t know where we would be or what we would do. It’s become very important for Jack and students like him that need extra attention and flexibility in their life.
The unfair treatment of TNVA and its 1,300 public school students, many of whom are special needs and at-risk students, has forced parents to file a lawsuit against the commissioner of education for unlawfully ordering the school to close. The Department of Education is ignoring tremendous progress the virtual public school made last year.
TNVA is a public school run by Union County Public Schools and ultimately reports to the elected Union County school board. After Union County opened the school in 2011, and worked to transition students to an online learning model, the department’s own data revealed TNVA began significantly improving its student outcomes from 2013 to 2014. In fact, last year TNVA realized improvements seven times greater than schools with the same level rating, despite facing several unique challenges, including serving a higher percentage of special education and low-income students than the state average. Fifteen percent of TNVA students receive special education services, and 74 percent of its families qualify for free/reduced lunches, according to Union County.
There are 1,300 unique students and 1,300 unique stories as to how and why TNVA is working to meet student and family needs – students who are excelling or who are far behind; students with significant and, in some cases, debilitating or even life-threatening illnesses; students who have been threatened or bullied; students with special needs, including many students with autism, who find it difficult to achieve in a traditional classroom.
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