Greater School Choice Means Greater Progress For More Tennessee Students

Thursday, August 22, 2013

A new school year is upon us – with new teachers, new textbooks, and, hopefully, many new educational opportunities, for more Tennessee families and students.  

Going back to school is a big reminder to all parents of how quickly our children are growing, and, also how the world itself is changing. 

While all of the new technologies present some challenges – they also present many new opportunities and options for students, educators and parents alike. 

Our families are particularly excited to begin another school year of online learning with the Tennessee Virtual Academy.  We recognize that, like those in many other families, our children have very unique learning needs – and online learning is helping us meet the educational needs of our children in ways we never thought possible.

Our children are learning and thriving inside the Tennessee Virtual Academy – both in their studies – and through the individualized instruction and flexibility that helps with special needs and extracurriculars.

We are pleased that we selected this option for our children – and pleased that the Tennessee legislature gave us this option – because public education is not a one-size-fits-all proposition.  Parents need an array of options beyond the traditional brick-and-mortar school, including online education, to help their children succeed. 

After all, different children have different needs when it comes to learning.  Some are visual learners, some tactile; some learn better in small groups, while others excel with individualized instruction, like the virtual schooling option that allows students to progress at their own pace. 

Online learning can often be life-changing as a second, and sometimes, last chance for many students who were falling behind or failing at their traditional school.   Many students come to the Tennessee Virtual Academy several grades behind.  Now, they are getting more tailored time and instruction designed to help catch them up. 

So we are troubled when we hear people, who don’t understand the needs and circumstances of families, like ours, that unnecessarily attack the school option we have chosen.  Too often, such critics take a very narrow look at test scores only to discount the validity of online learning, without putting those scores in the context of how these students were doing at their previous schools.

Families, like ours, are choosing online schools for a good reason.  No parent is being forced to choose the Tennessee Virtual Academy.  We believe parents should be able to choose whatever works best for their children.  Because we think parents, and not bureaucrats, know their children best.  

That’s why we hope state leaders will continue to work with parents, teachers and students to offer a variety of public school options to help our students succeed.  Forcing all students to attend a traditional school, even if it is failing them, is not progress.

Only when parents have a broad array of options will Tennessee’s education system continue to improve in this modern age. 

Cathy Berg, Cheatham County

Pamela Weston, Monroe County


Vote For Rhonda Thurman

In reference to Hamilton County District 1 Commission Race, I encourage you to vote for my friend of 20 plus years, Rhonda Thurman.  On a personal note I will relate a few things about Rhonda that you may or may not be aware of.  First and foremost, Rhonda  will not lie; she is most trustworthy and honest.  Secondly, Rhonda is a humanitarian.  ... (click for more)

A Vote For Christie Sell Is The Right Choice

What a privilege it is to write this letter on behalf of Judge Christie Sell.  I met Judge Sell years ago, and have been very blessed to call her a friend and mentor over the last two years.  As a young female attorney in Hamilton County, it is extremely important to have a respected female mentor. Judge Sell has been that person for me. She swore me into the practice ... (click for more)

Federal Judge Stops Erlanger Foreclosure Of Hutcheson Hospital

In a ruling Friday, a Federal Court Judge in Rome agreed with Hutcheson Medical Center and Regions Bank to grant the request for an injunction, effectively stopping the foreclosure efforts of Erlanger Health System against Hutcheson. In stopping the foreclosure set for next Tuesday, the judge held that the public interest in keeping the hospital doors open was “insurmountable.”  ... (click for more)

Mediated Resolution Reached In TVA Kingston Lawsuits

A mediated global resolution has been achieved in 63 lawsuits pending in U.S. District Court involving more than 850 plaintiffs asserting claims against the Tennessee Valley Authority arising from the 2008 ash spill at Kingston Fossil Plant. The resolution, outlined in documents submitted Friday to the U.S. District Court in Knoxville, comes after nearly two years of ... (click for more)

Live Viewing Party Of The National Championship Offered At First Tennessee Pavilion

Chattanooga Football Club fans will get one more chance to gather and cheer on the team as it battles for the National Premier Soccer League (NPSL) National Championship powered by Mitre.  On Saturday, from 7-11:30 p.m. at the First Tennessee Pavilion, Big River Brewing Company, Volkswagen Chattanooga, Memorial, Finley Stadium, and EPB Fiber Optics are hosting ... (click for more)

Larry Fleming: Phil Schmidt Made Life Better For Those That Knew Him

The sad news came Thursday morning in a phone call from Jill Bowling, the daughter of Phil Schmidt, longtime photographer at The Chattanooga Times – for years he served as chief of the department – had passed away minutes earlier at TriStar-Centennial Hospital in Nashville. Through Jill’s tears she said, “Daddy died this morning.” It was a phone call I didn’t want to get and ... (click for more)