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Thoughts on School Choice, Part 2

IMG_6428By Sara Myer, Esq.

Again this week, we are honored to have East Parent Ambassador Regional Coordinator, Sara Myer, continue her guest blog on school choice, this time approaching it from her perspective as a lawyer:

As a Legal Professional

Sometimes instead of thinking about school choice as a parent, I think about school choice as a lawyer. When I think about school choice in legal terms, the most important issue becomes not how this model operates in my own family dynamic, but rather the legal foundation of school choice in our state. I ask myself, "What law grants me the right to choose to educate my children at PA Virtual? What were our state lawmakers’ intentions in granting Pennsylvanians the right to choose cyber school as an alternative to brick and mortar public school?"

The Pennsylvania school code, in section 1327, states: “It is the policy of the Commonwealth to preserve the primary right and obligation of the parent or parents, or person or persons in loco parentis to a child, to choose the education and training for such child.”

To choose the education and training

The primary right and obligation

Those are decisive and empowering phrases! In Pennsylvania, parents not only have the right, but also the obligation, to choose how to educate our children. Certainly, we may choose to educate them in the public school system, as the majority of parents in our state do. But our state legislature has endowed us with the right to select an alternative means to educate our children. We are not bound by the zip code we live in. We are not bound by the income we earn. We are not bound by brick and mortar public schools that either cannot or will not meet the unique needs of our children. We have a choice. We have school choice. And I am so very grateful for that choice and the positive impact it has had on my family.

Thank you, Sara, for sharing your perspective with us.

Do you have another perspective on school choice that you would like to share? Please comment below!

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Posted on: December 17, 2014 by Andie Markijohn in

Happenings & Perspectives

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Thoughts on School Choice, part 1

By Sara Myer, Esq.

IMG_6718

This week, we are honored to have another guest blogger for the PA Virtual Blog: East Parent Ambassador Regional Coordinator, Sara Myer. Sara is a 2003 graduate of Penn State's Dickinson School of Law and holds a juris doctorate in law as well as a certificate in mediation and conflict resolution. Her family has been with PA Virtual since 2009, with son Gavin currently in 5th grade, son Rhys in 4th, and  5-year-old daughter Bryn looking forward to enrolling with PA Virtual next year.

In this first of two installments Sara crafted regarding school choice, she shares her views from the perspective of a parent:

As A Parent

When I think about school choice as a parent, I recall how my own family chose to think outside the educational box and found PA Virtual. I was the type of parent who assumed that my children would go to our local public school. The thought of homeschooling, or cyber schooling, or even seeking out a charter school never crossed my mind and I sent my oldest son off to kindergarten thinking it was the obvious, and only, choice.

It took only a few weeks to realize that this “obvious choice” wasn’t working so well for him. He was older than the other students in his class (due to his September birthday and school cut-off dates) and had completed three years of preschool. He was so well prepared for kindergarten that he was, in fact, somewhat over-prepared (if there is such a thing) and had already mastered the kindergarten curriculum.

No problem, I thought. He could simply work ahead. But it was a problem, at least according to his kindergarten teacher who had many other students to attend to. My child would have to, in her words, “hang out” until everybody caught up. And so he spent his public school kindergarten days (which were by this time numbered) in the back of the classroom listening to audio books.

This was not an acceptable solution for us, so I was thrilled to learn that I had other choices for my child's education! He didn’t, in fact, need to “hang out” until his peers caught up to him. Instead, I could enroll him in a school that allowed him to work at his own pace. It turned out to the best decision I ever made for my son and today he continues to work happily in this model, with teachers who have never once suggested he take a slower pace.

In next week's blog, Sara shares her perspective on school choice from her point of view as a lawyer. What do you think about school choice in PA? Share your thoughts in the comments!

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Posted on: December 11, 2014 by Andie Markijohn in

Happenings & Perspectives

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Maximize the “Happy” for the Holidays

gift-givingThis time of year is wonderful for many reasons, including presents (woot!), time spent with family, and lots of cookies! But another reason this time of year is special is the variety of opportunities we have to reach out to others and show that we care. Even better, many of these opportunities provide chances to involve the entire family in giving to others—whether it is the gift of an item or simply time.

We have found some ways to make a difference in the holidays of others and are glad to share them with you. Of course, these aren’t the only opportunities out there; we encourage you to check in your area for local programs or search the internet for larger initiatives that interest you. Make sure you share any you find in the comments below!

Local Opportunities

West Region

The Pittsburgh Mills Mall, where our West Office is located, is sponsoring a program called “Be a Santa to a Senior.” The program provides gifts to seniors who are least likely to receive a present during the holiday season. If you live in the Mills area and would like to participate:

  1. Visit the tree near the Customer Service Desk or Victoria’s Secret to select a senior’s gift tag
  2. Purchase one (or more) of the gifts listed on the tag, then place it under the tree (or give to Customer Service). Donations of new teddy bears are also being accepted.

The final day for collecting gifts is December 16. If you have questions about this program, please visit the Mall’s Customer Service Desk.

Learn more about Holiday Volunteer Opportunities in the Greater Pittsburgh Area, courtesy of About.com’s travel section.

Central Region

The Holiday Giving Guide for Lancaster, Lehigh, and Northampton Counties, courtesy of the United Way of Lancaster County.

Northeast Region

Maternal and Family Health Services’s “Holiday Party” allows you to donate a toy or money for a local child.

Southeast Region

A listing of Top Spots To Make Holiday Gift Donations In Philadelphia, courtesy of CBS Philly.

 

National Opportunity

The Red Cross Holiday Mail for Heroes Program

Each year, the American Red Cross sponsors its Holiday Mail for Heroes (HMFH) program, which gives people the opportunity to send a card of thanks and support to members of the Armed Forces, veterans, and their families. To learn about card-making events in your area or about how to make cards at home and use them in the program, contact your local Red Cross Office.

PA Virtual will be helping in this effort by having card-making supplies at our West Office in the Pittsburgh Mills Mall.  We will send all of the cards made to the Red Cross on your behalf, so be sure to stop by today! The last day to make cards is December 10.

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Posted on: December 03, 2014 by Andie Markijohn in

In the Community

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