Virtual School Profile

The Emporia Gazette has a short profile of one kind of virtual learning, at the Turning Point Learning Center.

Turning Point Learning Center has passed its three-year trial period and will be open and operating for the 2007-08 school year. The Center began as a charter school through a cooperative effort of the Emporia school district and Educational Services and Staff Development Association of Central Kansas, which runs both the virtual and on-site classes.

The school serves children in grades K-8. Parents must pay a fee of $95 for supplies, but they get instructional material, a laptop, and support from a certified teacher in return. Some parents and children even come into a physical structure for help, thus mixing virtual and brick-and-mortar schooling.

Jennifer Miller, a teacher at the school, said “We’re trying to add another option for parents. We don’t turn kids with special needs down. … We work with all students. We are a public school,” she said. “We’re just different in the services we do for kids.”

Students in the virtual school take state assessments, just as do students in brick-and-mortar schools.

Ginger Lewman, the coordinator of the school, garners some high praise from parents in the comments section of the story. She responds by graciously deferring the praise to others, including parents of students in the program: “ll schools in Emporia would be as successful if every single parent chipped in as much as you all have to provide a well-rounded educational experience!”

Defenders of doing the same old-same old sometimes state, wistfully or otherwise, that the problem with public schools is that too many parents don’t care enough. But this story suggests that perhaps one way to produce more engaged parents is to give them more of a say in the education of their children. Virtual schooling is one way of doing that.

See: “School Trial a Success,” Emporia Gazette,  May 3.

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