The Daily Item, Sunbury, PA

October 16, 2013

Cyber school success

Daily Item

---- — I am writing in response to all of the negative things I have been reading in recent editions regarding cyber schooling in our area. I am a cyber mother and I absolutely love the experience. My child is in first grade this year, and she is enrolled in a cooking class, as well as a Spanish class in addition to the regular first-grade classes. We chose to use PA Cyber Charter and I do not regret making this decision for one minute.

This school, I feel, is academically superior to the public school in our district. My first-grader is learning things, particularly in history, that my eldest child who is an enrichment student at our district middle school does not know. According to the national testing she must complete, my child is functioning well above her grade level in all subjects. If she is struggling in an area, we are able to focus on that area or get extra help if needed. She has contact with other students, both via the computer, and also at regularly scheduled outings and field trips. I am held accountable for the work that must be done both by her teacher facilitator, and my own supervisor. They are both in regular contact with me via telephone and email.

My personal relationship with my child is much better as a result of this choice as well. These students take the PSSA tests, the Keystone exams, and receive a high school diploma that is accepted at state and private colleges across the nation. PA Cyber Charter is also partnered with several colleges in our area, Penn State being one, that allows juniors and seniors to take college credits during their last years of high school. These are not AP courses, they are actual collegiate level classes and it is possible to graduate high school with as many as 24 college credits already earned. This is not a choice for everyone, but it is a choice.

Those of us lucky enough to be able to use this method should not be criticized or belittled for making what we feel is the best decision for our students. There are many different reasons a family would choose to use an alternative method of education, and it is extremely important that all of those options remain available.

If you don't like cyber school, do not enroll your student in one. My child's enrollment in cyber school affects one student: mine. Cyber schools were created to fill a void for families that are unhappy with the performance of their local districts but are unable to afford or have no access to private schools and challenge the public districts to make their schools better. Continually complaining about how much money is going out of the district as a result of children being enrolled in cyber school, is ridiculous! If Bucknell University complained about tuition going to Susquehanna University because my child chose to attend there, would we see front page articles covering that discrepancy?

Perhaps instead of whining about how much money the district loses to cyber schools each year, the administration should investigate why so many families are choosing to remove their children from the district and utilizing the cyber school option.

Bethany Zechman,