Defending students’ academic progress and fighting for parents’ choice in education - Tucson Local Media: Opinion

Defending students’ academic progress and fighting for parents’ choice in education

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Posted: Wednesday, October 30, 2013 4:00 am

In a recent column, Mr. David Safier criticized the digital learning model employed by the Arizona Virtual Academy (AZVA). Many of his assertions about our school are simply not true, which is not surprising coming from someone who actively opposes school options for students and educational choices for parents.

The Internet and technology have enabled educators to provide new ways to reach populations of students who were otherwise isolated due to economic status or geography. The schools I lead -- Arizona Virtual Academy (AZVA) and Insight School of Arizona (ISAZ) -- are public schools dedicated to providing access and opportunities to more than 5,000 students combined.

Contrary to Mr. Safier’s claim, neither school is in “academic probation.” They received satisfactory marks from the Arizona Department of Education and remain in good standing with the State Charter Board. Our teachers are hardworking, professional educators. They are state-certified and highly qualified.

We want to see students enroll in schools that are right for them. Online schools are a great option for some, but not for all students. When parents contact us, we provide them information they need to make a fully informed choice. In our online schools, engagement is the key to success. Online schools require a significant amount of commitment and student participation, and we ensure families know this before they enroll. Students who engage – regardless of their academic history – can succeed in online schools.

Some critics argue online schools should “filter out” certain students or restrict access based on academic history or socioeconomic status. We reject that view. As public schools, we cannot and will not discriminate. Our obligation as educators is to serve all students who come to us. No student is zoned-in or required to enroll in one of our schools. They are there by choice, and we respect parent choice.

We are proud to serve a diverse group of students, from accelerated learners to special needs children to victims of bullying. Our staff, teachers and parents are committed to our mission to meet the individual needs of every child.

Cindy Wright Carter, Phoenix

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