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


Protecting The Flock

I had an interesting experience last weekend. Being an avid Angry Bird player, I was anxious to see the movie. We traveled over to the Wynsong theater and were greeted by the first responders of our community. Firemen, sheriffs, police officers, Lifeforce all arrived to show that they were there to "protect the flock". The flock are the birds that are being eaten by the pigs...for ... (click for more)

Thanks To Those Who Made East Ridge Stadium Possible - And Response

I would like to express my personal appreciation, and that of our entire city, to the Hamilton County School Board for its decision to fund new seating at Raymond James Stadium at East Ridge High School.   Because the former stadium was condemned in August and razed in December of last year, it would have been easy to simply let this subject fade away.   However, ... (click for more)

Settlement May Be Close In Government's $1.8 Billion Case Against Cleveland, Tn.-Based Life Care Centers Of America

A settlement may be close in the federal government's massive False Claims Act case against Cleveland, Tn.-based Life Care Centers of America. Attorneys have asked Chattanooga Federal Judge Sandy Mattice to put a 30-day hold on depositions, saying a settlement is in the works. Judge Mattice granted the motion. The government says claims in the case amount to $1.8 billion. ... (click for more)

Erlanger Projecting $15.2 Million Profit In Aggressive "Growth Budget"

Erlanger Health Systems is projecting a $15.2 million profit in an aggressive "growth budget" for the upcoming fiscal year. President Kevin Spiegel, who has led the public hospital to a succession of profitable years, said the projections are based on a TennCare waiver being renewed once again. He said if it is not renewed, then the hospital will have to completely rework the ... (click for more)

Crosby Huckabay At Heart Of Baylor Softball Success

The Baylor Lady Red Raiders have had incredible success on the softball field in recent years. Baylor is the defending D-II Class AA state champion and has won state titles in four of the past five seasons. There are three seniors on this year's team that has compiled an outstanding record of 34-4, including shortstop Mari Gardner, pitcher Kayla Hughes and first baseman Crosby ... (click for more)

Spring Fling State Soccer Brackets Set

Notre Dame and McCallie are the only area teams to compete in this week's Spring Fling Soccer competitions in Murfreesboro.   In Class A/AA, Notre Dame will play Tuesday at 6:30 in the quarterfinals.  The will face off with CAK. Winners will advance to the semifinals on Wednesday.  The Class A/AA state championship game is set for Friday at 4 p.m.   Notre ... (click for more)