Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Forget Politics. Remember Micheal.

There has been quite a ruckus surrounding virtual schooling in the last month. The articles are fraught with quotes from public relations people, court filings are quoted, and politicians and bureaucrats are either grandstanding or running for cover. In all of this, I haven’t seen anyone mention the children, whom are the whole reason for our educational system.
This is Micheal. Micheal has special needs, including an articulation disorder and attention issues. He is an incredibly sweet and bright little boy. He loves history and art, and wants to design toys for Nerf when he grows up.

My son’s time in a traditional classroom was disastrous – both for himself, and for his classmates. He couldn’t concentrate or sit still. He fought with other students. He was a constant distraction to his teacher and his classmates. He wasn’t learning, and he was preventing the other children from learning as well.

Virtual schooling is essential for my son, who would undoubtedly be on serious medication if he were forced back into a traditional classroom. These medications have unknown long-term effects, and have been known to cause heart problems, psychiatric issues, and even death in children. Programs like Epic Charter School allow him to learn in an environment tailored specifically for him, without any risk to his health, or to your child’s education.

Some of the other children enrolled in Oklahoma’s various virtual schools have similar issues. There are children with leukemia, immune disorders, and other health issues, who literally cannot be in a classroom setting. There are children who have ongoing medical issues that require surgeries, home care, and other long separations from a classroom. Virtual schooling allows these children to attend school at home, with flexible schedules and curriculum, while being monitored by the school to make sure that they’re progressing. Virtual schooling fills one of the largest cracks into our system of education, and truly keeps these children from being ‘left behind’.

With Epic, we have access to the best curriculum for our children. The needs of my children don’t have to compete with the needs of twenty other kids, and when something isn’t working, I can try a new method of teaching the concept without worrying about the other children. My son is not a natural reader, like my daughter is, and using Epic allows me to choose one curriculum for pre-reading and phonics, and a different course to help him learn to read for pleasure, while my daughter uses another program entirely.

Our days are absent of the time constraints that plague special needs children in traditional classrooms. My son can take the time to fully understand a math or reading lesson, without holding back the other children in his classroom. My daughter, who is a talented reader, can race ahead to the next book, regardless of the development of other children. We can take two hours to explore an event in history, or to fully understand a new math concept, and when they are ahead in certain courses, I can tailor our studies to devote more time to harder subjects.

In a traditional classroom, my son would be heavily medicated in order to sit still for the length of the school day, and would likely fall farther and farther behind each year. Virtual schooling, and Epic Charter School, allows us to have the schedule that suits us best, and to teach and break according to Micheal’s needs. With our tailored schedule, my son doesn’t require medication, and he can receive the education that every Oklahoman child deserves.

Please help us keep virtual schools alive in Oklahoma. Pass this on to your friends and family, and let our Governor and the State Department of Education know that these services, which cost less than our traditional schooling options, are essential for our children.

If you have any questions about this statement, or wish to use any part of this document, please contact us by e-mail at epicchartermom@gmail.com.

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