Glenda Ritz gets one thing right about virtual education: It “has its place in all of our schools to deepen learning, enhance practice skills, and provide access to information.” Unfortunately, the rest of Ritz’s column [Virtual schools fail students, Nov. 13] was misguided and uninformed.
Most families turn to virtual education because they have been left behind by the traditional school model in some way.
For students who suffer from anxiety or are victims of bullying, virtual education offers a clean slate to learn in a safe environment. Young parents who must support a family need the flexibility to take virtual classes and keep a full-time job.
Yet, Ritz perpetuates the myth that virtual schools only serve a “limited clientele” of students. These are the same students who have already fallen through the cracks of traditional brick-and-mortar schools. They are not clientele. They are kids seeking an alternative path to educational success after being neglected, underserved and ultimately rejected by traditional schools. Virtual schools meet those students where they are in their academic journey rather than force them through an antiquated system that fails to meet their needs.
Virtual education is new and innovative—growing pains are expected. However, the focus should remain on expanding the number of options available to students, not limiting them to only one educational model. After all, learning is not and should not be one size fits all.
Ritz concludes that virtual schools are a “failed alternative to our brick and mortar schools.” The fact is that virtual schools are a product of failed traditional brick and mortar mentality.
Percy Clark, superintendent
Indiana Virtual School