News Tribune publishes Online Education Performs Valuable Service...
My son Leamon has been a student in an online public school for five years, after he was having difficulty articulating, reading with comprehension and writing in the third grade.
Leamon has ADHD, which causes uncontrollable tics and body movements, as well as difficulty focusing and concentrating. Medication to treat his ADHD cannot be taken because stimulant drugs affect his heart condition.
Attending a traditional brick-and-mortar school put my son at a disadvantage for learning. His teachers were exasperated ? they had to manage and teach classrooms full of children, not just my son, whose needs required an extensive amount of their time.
His classmates were not always tolerant; being bullied became a way of life for my son due to his differences. Leamon was depressed and withdrawn, unable to learn and ridiculed by his classmates.
I knew my son needed help; I couldn't sleep at night as I worried and wondered what the future held for him. He was getting left behind, and I needed to quit my job to focus on his education and learning challenges.
I discovered online public schools, and it was life-changing.
Online public schools are just that ? public schools. They use a state-approved curriculum and are taught by state-certificated teachers. Students are closely monitored, and the school districts are held accountable for the progress of each individual student.
Online learning has allowed Leamon to learn at his own pace, without the distractions that detracted from his education and that of his classmates. He can do his lessons from his laptop computer anywhere, anytime.
The "mastery learning" curriculum, whereby students don't advance to the next level of a learning topic until they have mastered the current level, means Leamon and his teachers at the Washington Virtual Academy spend all the time he needs learning the subjects he struggles with and less time on the subjects in which he is more proficient.
Today Leamon tests above average. He is excelling academically, and the confidence he gained from his online school enables him to participate in important extracurricular activities that have made him an outgoing and well-rounded young man. He is a bowling league champ and takes music lessons. He has achieved the impressive Boy Scout rank of Star Scout and is a patrol leader.
None of this would have been possible without online public schools. Leamon would have been one of many students who fell through the cracks in our state's education system. But thanks to online learning, Leamon and thousands of other students who rely on this alternative education have a different future.
Despite my son's success story, his basic education funding ? and the funding of every online student ? was cut 15 percent last year. I keep reading quotes from Democrats and Republicans that their budgets fully fund basic education, but none of these budgets restore those cuts.
Students attending traditional, brick-and-mortar public schools still receive full funding. But those who learn in a nontraditional environment do not. Why do lawmakers believe my son is not worthy of the same basic education funding as a student who learns in a classroom?
Every student deserves a better future. Our Legislature must ? for reasons legal and moral ? restore the cuts to the basic education funding of students enrolled in online public schools.
Deborah Woodley of Tacoma is a plaintiff in a lawsuit, State v. Duplessis, seeking to restore cuts to funding for online public schools.