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    Who are the NERD fund donors Mr Snyder?

    Raise the curtain.

    Public Charter School Reform: An Interview with Parents

    By Public School Options, Section News
    Posted on Fri Jan 06, 2012 at 02:48:47 PM EST
    Tags: SB 619, charter schools, MEA (all tags)

    RightMichigan has been at the front of the pack when it comes to raising awareness about important school choice issues here in Michigan.  With the legislature scheduled to get back to work in Lansing as early as next week, I wanted to pass through an update on a critical piece of legislation being considered by the House Education Committee.

    Senate Bill 619 is the next major piece in the fight to save Michigan kids who are currently trapped in failing schools.  The bill lifts the cap on what are commonly called "cyber charter schools," or virtual education.  Right now in Michigan, the policy makers in their infinite wisdom have created an arbitrary cap on these virtual schools.  Two.  Statewide.

    That's created an incredible bottleneck with as many as 5,000 parents and their children turned away and forced to rely on waiting lists for seats that by law rarely become available.

    We could go on all day about the importance of lifting the cap, but who better to explain the desperate situation facing Michigan kids than Michigan parents?  What follows is an interview we conducted this week with Brian and Heidi Kevelin, just two of the thousands of Michigan parents looking for options for their kids.

    Interview below the break...

    Public School Options:    Thank you both for sharing your story.  Do you have kids in a Michigan cyber charter school?

    Brian Kevelin:    Thanks for letting us tell our story!  Yes, my wife Heidi and I have 2 children in middle-school, who have the privilege of being enrolled in the Michigan Virtual Charter Academy.

    Heidi Kevelin:   We are so grateful that Michigan provided us the opportunity to choose the public school that best suits our children's academic needs.

    Public School Options:  Why do parents like you look for options like cyber charters?

    Heidi Kevelin:    As a parent, a quality education for our children is the most important issue we face.  Michigan's educational system has faces challenges for years.  People want what's best for their children and are seeking a better way to educate their children, and find that the alternative educational systems satisfy this need.   Higher scores, personalized learning, more flexibility, better one on one teacher interaction with students, no weapons or safety issues to contend with. .. these are only a few of the reasons people are choosing the virtual educational experience.

    Brian Kevelin:    My personal education was within the traditional public school system.   I struggled the entire 13 years, because of dyslexia.   They knew how to spell it back then, but did not offer any extra help, like my daughter is getting now, as a result of being in the virtual charter school.

    Public School Options:   You touched on extra help that your daughter is getting.  How are your children performing now compared to a traditional school experience?

    Heidi Kevelin:    The cyber charter is doing wonders for our kids and our families.  Our kids are learning more than ever before.  They can work ahead on subjects they enjoy.  When they have a hard time mastering a subject there's extra help for them and the teachers work with them until they get it right.  Of course, cyber charter schools also have to meet the same state standards as any other Michigan public school, with the same testing requirements, MEAP tests and things like that.

    Brian Kevelin:    Our kids have more one-on-one time with teachers now than they would ever have at a traditional brick-and-mortar school.  And there are field trips, outings and all sorts of other social activities where students get together and get to socialize as well, outside of our own family activities.

    Public School Options:    So the cyber charter school is working for you and your kids?

    Brian Kevelin:    Absolutely.  I don't know that online learning will work for every child.  In fact, I am very willing to grant you that it won't work for every student, if you are willing to grant me that the traditional brick and mortar system won't work for every student either.

    Public School Options:    Why do you think the public school establishment has been so critical of providing additional options for kids?

    Brian Kevelin:    Obviously they're trying to protect their own broken bureaucracies.  But more than that, honestly, traditional educators seem to have a deep-seeded doubt about the ability of Michigan kids.

    A couple of weeks ago, I read in the newspaper where a superintendent from Livingston County, my neighboring county, said that he doubted the positive impact of online learning because, in his experience, kids are "lazy."  "Lazy" was his word, not mine.

    I can't speak for all children or all parents, but I can say that in my own experience, kids aren't lazy, they are all unique.  I have seen with my own two children that no two kids are the same.  Yet, our traditional education system treats every student the same.

    Heidi Kevelin:    Kids aren't lazy.  They are unique and every parent deserves the same opportunity Brian and I have had to pick the best educational opportunity for the two people on this earth we love most - our kids.

    Public School Options:    So what's the next step?  How do we give them that opportunity?  

    Brian Kevelin:    The legislature needs to remove the enrollment cap and approve Senate Bill 619, so that as many as 5,000 waiting students and families have access to the school that best fits each child's learning style.

    Heidi Kevelin:    Lawmakers should let every family in Michigan have the freedom to choose the school that offers the best academic experience for their children.

    Public School Options:    If people are reading this interview and they want to help, or to learn more about the school your children attend, what can they do?

    Brian Kevelin:    First and foremost, please call your state Representative and ask him or her to support Senate Bill 619.  If they want more information they can also go online and search for our chapter on Facebook: National Coalition for Public School Options Michigan Chapter.

    Public School Options:   Thank you both so much for your time and your willingness to share your story.

    Brian & Heidi Kevelin:  Thank you.

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