National School Choice Week (January 27 to February 2, 2013) and Digital Learning Day (February 6, 2013) have both gained momentum the last few years to shine a spotlight on the need for effective education options for all children. As the names imply, School Choice Week celebrates school options and Digital Learning Day recognizes how technology is transforming education. As the principal of MTS Minnesota Connections Academy, a tuition-free full-time virtual public school, I celebrate both proudly as I see, first hand, the benefits of school choice and technology everyday.
This year, National School Choice Week will feature 3,500 independently-planned special events across all 50 states. Participants are families, educators and others who support access to high-quality public schools, public charter schools, magnet schools, virtual schools and homeschooling. Last year, tens of thousands of teachers participated in the inaugural Digital Learning Day and represented nearly two million students. The event promoted successful instructional practice and effective use of technology in classrooms across the country. The recent Keeping Pace with K-12 Online Learning report estimates that 275,000 students nationwide attended fully-online schools during the 2011-2012 school year, while millions participated in other technology-enhanced learning—such as online classes and blended learning. More than ever, people want educational choices, and people want technology.
School choice is about finding what works best for your individual student and educating yourself on the various options. As our school gears up for enrollment for the 2013-14 school year, I want to thank all of the parents, students, educators, advocates, and policymakers for making their voices heard and making our school, and all of the other school choices, possible. We owe it to our students to continue to develop new and innovative learning tools and options.
Melissa Gould is principal at MTS Minnesota Connections Academy, a K-12 state certified, tuition-free online public school available to students throughout the state. To see if the program may be right for your family, visit www.connectionsacademy.com.