This morning, KUNC Radio (the NPR affiliate in Northern Colorado) broadcast a story focusing on one Colorado online school, Colorado Virtual Academy (COVA). Unfortunately, like other media stories we saw at the end of 2011, this story presents a biased view of public online schools. In fact, the reporting here fails to acknowledge the fundamental differences between online and traditional schools.
Some things are the same for online and traditional schools. For example, accountability. Virtual schools are public schools in every sense of the word. They are held to the same accountability and transparency standards as every other Colorado public school.
But some things are different:
- Student / teacher ratios may be different for online schools, but consider the significant time commitment a parent dedicates in the learning coach role.
- Count date presents unique challenges for online schools. Many students choose to attend an online school because of the flexibility it offers. Yet it’s the same flexibility that makes a single count date an antiquated way determine funding for the whole year.
Did you notice what else is missing? The voice of parents. Not one parent is quoted in this entire story. The Colorado Coalition of Cyberschool Families believes that when it comes to making the best educational choices for Colorado’s children, it’s the parents who know best.
As a learning coach to two COVA students, we have had a very positive experience with teachers as well as the quality of curriculum and the flexibility of the model.
When we see biased reporting like this – knowing that the usual critics of public online schools will use it as ammunition – we fear that every single online school in Colorado could suffer the consequences.
So, whether or not your family is enrolled in COVA, we hope that you will take five minutes to take the following action:
1. Visit one or more of the online news sources that have published this article:
- KUNC - http://www.kunc.org/post/overworked-and-underpaid-teacher-staffing-colorado-virtual-academy
- Westword Magazine – http://blogs.westword.com/latestword/2012/03/colorado_virtual_academy_low_pay_heavy_workload_kunc.php
- Ed News Colorado – http://www.ednewscolorado.org/2012/03/19/34823-overworked-and-underpaid-at-cova?utm_source=feedburner&utm_medium=feed&utm_campaign=Feed%3A+ednewscolorado+%28EdNews+Colorado%29
2. Add your voice in the comment section. We often hear that the most influential comments from parents come in the form of a positive personal story about online school. You can also visit our Facebook page and comment on the articles there.
Our coalition is committed to helping parents of online students in Colorado work together to call for choices that meet the needs of their children. Please don’t pass up this opportunity to make your voice heard!
President, Colorado Coalition of Cyberschool Families
Parent / learning coach to two Colorado Virtual Academy students (and one graduate!)
Board member, Colorado Virtual Academy