A Choice of Public Education
March 9, 2014
A Choice of Public Education
Did you know you have more choices today about where your children attend public school? There is more to public schools than just the traditional “brick and mortar” schools you attended in past decades. Cyber schools are essentially public schools where students attend school full-time online at home or where ever they have an internet connection. Technology has made it easier than ever before to educate your child at home. According to NATIONAL CENTER FOR EDUCATION STATISTICS (2013). “From school year 1999-2000 to 2010-2011, the number of students enrolled in public charter schools increased from 0.3 million to 1.8 million students. During this period, the percentage of all public schools that were public charter schools increased from 2 to 5 percent, comprising 5,300 schools in 2010-2011.” (Charter School Enrollment). Students have started to attend Cyber School because of a variety of reasons including: social anxieties, peer pressure, students who are under stimulated with curriculum, students behind in classes, and bullying. If you are saying to yourself that stuff like this only happens in middle and high school, you are kidding yourself. Bullying and Peer Pressure also happen at the elementary level. At third grade the main reason my nephew left public school was because of being bullied. He was the subject of humiliation, when an older student forcefully made him take chewing tobacco and put it in his mouth and keep it there until he got sick in front of other kids. This instance alone was enough for my sister and brother-in-law to pull their son out of public school and begin to Cyber School him at home. It is something like this that makes parents stop and think if traditional public education is the right choice. Families deciding the best option of a public education or cyber school for elementary children need to carefully consider the learning environment, their parental involvement and the academic benefits. The learning environment in which children learn is a determining factor as to whether a child should attend Cyber School or be sent to a traditional brick and mortar school. Public school teachers have classrooms full of fifteen to twenty-five students to provide attention to, which means your child is not getting the proper instruction they need to learn at their best and could lead to your child falling behind. I have seen this with my son who is in first grade, when he comes home I ask him what he learned. His response is “I don’t know.” Every night we work on homework and he struggles to do simple math facts and with reading sight words (words that students are expected to know in the grade they are in). After the first marking period my husband and I had a parent teacher conference with his teacher and I asked how he was doing in class and was concerned with his math and reading skills not being at the appropriate level. Her response was “Well he is slow at processing information and it takes a long time for him to get his worksheets done, we have to move on.” At this point in the conference I am thinking I could do a better job teaching him at home. I do not want my son to go unnoticed and fall through the cracks of the public education system and be promoted through grade levels because the teachers are too busy to stop and make sure every child understands the material before moving on. Students who stay at home to learn are in their home where it is a primarily safe and secure environment. Children do not have to deal with the peer pressure, bullying, worry about what clothes to wear or being in the right cliques. With Cyber School your child focuses on doing school work and advancing their education. A child enrolled in Cyber School can be just that- a child, and this alone will give your child the opportunity to focus on what he or she is learning that day. Some children are more productive and have better learning experiences when in the right environment; whether it be at home where they can get individual attention or in a large classroom full of noisy children trying to get the teachers attention. Parents have a choice in how involved they want to be with their child’s education. A public school teacher oversees the daily efforts of the students and parents get reports only if the student is failing or at report card time. Public school parents can be involved in other ways like: helping with homework or help study for a test; be there for plays, concerts and activities; and talk to the teacher and see what areas you can help your child achieve. While some parents want and need to work, making it so they have less time to spend being involved in their children’s education; other parent’s want that hands on approach to ensure their child’s success. Parents’ involvement in their child’s education is crucial in Cyber School while in public education you are leaving your child’s education up to the teacher. A parent would need to manage their child’s schedule, ensure child is completing work at a reasonable pace, while leaving the instructional experience to the teacher. Parents who decide to home school their children should find a way to integrate social aspects into their child’s daily structure; such as, signing him up for sports teams or community clubs like: Cub Scouts, Boy Scouts and Girls Scouts with other children his age. This way students will be able to benefit from the social aspects, which are needed at every age. Parental involvement is important for the success in any child’s education whether in public school or in Cyber School. There are academic benefits to both public school and Cyber School; where public school students learn valuable social skills by attending classes with others their own age. The social interaction between children and between children and teachers give children the ability to learn to socialize well with other students and make friends. Children are taught at an early age to work together and problem-solve in groups with other children. Public education is a one-size-fits-all approach to education, teachers are to slow down the pace of their instruction to cater to the slowest students in the classroom, even though these are the ones that are sometimes overlooked. My neighbors’ son was overlooked, because when they tested him for Cyber School, they found he was actually not performing well in math. His test score was a whole grade level below where he should have been. With enrolling him in Agora Cyber Charter School he is able to get more help in the subject areas he needs to improve upon. By enrolling your child in Cyber School you are your child’s learning coach, by partnering with the teacher to ensure daily progress and academic achievement. Having your child learn at home with Cyber School will give him/her the individualized attention that the large class sizes in public schools fail to offer. An individualized curriculum will be one that is tailored to your child’s needs, learning style, and strengths and weaknesses. According to Agora Cyber Charter School (2014), “Agora’s individualized approach means your child can go as fast or slow as he needs to”. Cyber school students move at their own pace and have the ability to focus more time on harder subjects where needed. If a student has problems in addition facts but excels in telling time and counting money then the student can devote as much time as needed to develop those skills; therefore, the benefits of Cyber School leave no weak points in the child’s education.
A decision whether to enroll your child in a cyber school or a traditional “brick and mortar” school involves many factors. Parents must carefully weigh these benefits and decide how important each of these points is to them when making their decision. Both public schools and Cyber schools hold specific and helpful opportunities for children to learn. Every parent should decide what is best for their child’s education; as each child is a unique individual, and their education should be just as unique as them.
NATIONAL CENTER FOR EDUCATION STATISTICS. (2013). The Condition of Education. Retrieved from http://nces.ed.gov/programs/coe/indicator_cgb.asp
Agora Cyber Charter School. (2014). K-8 Curriculum. Retrieved from http://www.k12.com/agora/curriculum/k-8#.UxorwDiPLnM