Virtual Schools Are Right for Some Families

Nichole Schweitzer:

As principal of Wisconsin Connections Academy (WCA), the state’s first virtual K-8 school, I see on a daily basis the benefits a standards-based virtual education provides for students from around the state.
Every student has unique learning needs. Some students learn best by reading, others by listening and still others by doing. In the same manner, a traditional school is best for some students and a virtual school is best for others. Wisconsin has been an educational leader for many years, and virtual schools are just one of the ways in which Wisconsin is staying at the forefront of education.
Virtual school teachers work with each student to modify lessons, and generally meet the student’s unique needs and learning style. This personalized approach to education is a good option for students who may be far ahead of or behind their peers, for students who need a more flexible schedule, or for students who learn best outside the walls of a traditional school, such as Jacob Martin.
Jacob is an 8th grade student at WCA. Because of his autism, Jacob benefits from learning in a more personalized setting: his home. Jacob recently wrote an essay about why he likes attending a virtual school, and he explained in his own words why a virtual school works best for him.

2 thoughts on “Virtual Schools Are Right for Some Families”

  1. I think virtual education is a great fit for some students and the Wisconsin Connections Academy, from what I know of it, offers a high quality program.
    It’s interesting that every year at the start of the open enrollment window an opinion piece appears in news outlets (Wispolitics.com this year, the Wisconsin State Journal last year), authored by a WCA staff member, advocating virtual education, but where WCA is the only virtual school mentioned by name. It’s not astroturf, because the authorship is transparent, but it is as much marketing as issue advocacy.
    I have no complaints about WCA. It is a good program and and they are raising its profile with thorough PR. I wonder, however, about where media outlets should draw the line between advertising and journalism. Is this placed free advertising or a legitimate issue article? I’m not a journalist, so I’m interested in learning more.

  2. Tim:
    It’s just good product placement!
    Seriously, I’m not sure it’s an either/or proposition. Virtual schools are in the news, folks are pondering choices with the open enrollment window, and smart folks know how to combine those two into a guest editorial. A lot of this is less nefarious than it might appear; many, many organizations — for-profit, non-profit, even governmental agencies — have their shot at the op-ed page opining on the latest issue of the day, with the goal of promoting their pet project or group. I mean, how many Brett Hulsey guest editorials on the environment (that rarely fail to mention his organization) can one person read in a lifetime? It’s a fine line, and as William Hurt’s character famously said in the movie “Broadcast News,” the problem in whether or not you crossed it is that “they keep moving the da.. thing!”

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