Colton Sheets was diagnosed with leukemia at age three; his only option for public education is virtual school – thanks to technology
WASHINGTON – Today, teachers, school administrators, students, and families are celebrating Digital Learning Day, an annual day highlighting the benefits of digital learning options – from new technologies used in classrooms to fully on-line K-12 education. Digital learning is an important part of student learning and preparing them for jobs in the 21st century economy.
By leveraging existing and new technology, education is now customizable to meet the needs of individual students. Technology also provides more options for learning. Now, parents may look to digital learning as they search for the education option that works best for their child.
For 11-year-old Tennessee Virtual Academy (TNVA) student Colton Sheets, who was diagnosed with leukemia at age three, on-line school is the only school he’s ever known. Thanks to this form of digital learning, Colton has the opportunity for a great education while fighting to regain his health.
Colton was diagnosed with acute lymphoblastic leukemia at age three and has spent the last eight years in and out of hospitals and in treatment – from chemotherapy, to radiation, to a bone marrow transplant. Due to Colton’s severely weakened immune system, he cannot attend a traditional brick and mortar school with other students because he would not be able to fight off simple germs and illnesses like a cold, the flu, or chicken pox. For the Sheets family, TNVA is their only option for educating Colton.
Public virtual school provides a sense of normalcy for Colton, which cancer has mostly stripped away from his childhood. This option allows Colton to continue fighting cancer while getting a high-quality education and staying on track with his peers. Even while going through a bone marrow transplant, which took the Sheets family over 2,000 miles away from home for several months, virtual school provided a much needed diversion for Colton and his family as they navigated the treatments and the unknowns of pediatric cancer.
Lawmakers must continue to recognize the benefits of giving parents a full menu of school choice options, including digital and on-line learning.
PublicSchoolOptions.org is a national alliance of over 60,000 parents that supports and defends parents’ rights to access the best public school options for their children. The Coalition supports the creation of public school options, including charter schools, online schools, magnet schools, open enrollment policies and other innovative education programs. Additionally, we advocate for equal access without restrictions to the school that best suits the individual student’s learning needs.