A news service for the people of Michigan from the Mackinac Center for Public Policy

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The Michigan House Education Committee is considering lifting the enrollment cap on the number of families that can take advantage of publicly funded cyber charter public schools. No more than 2,000 students may enroll in these schools under current law.

Below is an interview with Brian Kevelin, a parent who sends his children to one of Michigan’s two cyber charter schools — Michigan Virtual Charter Academy.

Why did you seek out this alternative form of public schooling?

"It started out because of a safety issue that the public school did not correct. The child brought a knife to school and threatened a group of 1st graders, of which our son was a part of. The school just made him shadow the teacher for one week. Nothing else was done, so we found a place where our children's safety would never be an issue. We stumbled through various home-school curricula, and finally found the Idaho K-12 Virtual Charter school program. Once we experienced the organization and curriculum, and how teachers were so involved with the children, we never wanted anything else."

What are your thoughts about the enrollment caps?

"My thought on the cap is that the traditional public schools don't want to lose money. I'll never be convinced that there is any other reason. They'll blow smokescreens and throw virtual schooling under the bus, and say all sorts of untrue things about the program, but it's just used to take the focus off their desire for all the money."

Did you think other parents would take advantage of full-time online schools if they were able?

"There are over 5,000 students waiting to get into the virtual school setting, so yes. I truly believe that there would be even more parents that would take advantage, if given the opportunity."

What are some of the main advantages you’ve experienced through participating in MVCA?

"Advantages include testing and evaluations that place each child in the proper grade level, one-on-one assistance with the teacher, flexibility to get work done when the child is at their best, and then allow them to take a break if things are overwhelming. This type of schooling can be done anywhere and we had some health issues where we had to be out of state getting medical help and the children were able to do their schooling in the hotel room."

What are some of the challenges about this form of schooling?

"The parent and child must be driven to get the work done. This is not the place for lazy parents or children."

Would you recommend full-time online schooling to other parents?

"I would recommend MVCA schooling to most everyone. It's a tough curriculum, and it takes motivation on the parents’ part to keep the child focused and motivated to learn the material."

Do you feel like your children get enough socialization and personal contact from teachers, students and mentors?

"Our children are involved with various activities the friends and socialization has never been a concern. The 'socialization' they were getting in the traditional school setting is why we're involved with the MVCA today. Our children are years ahead of where I was socially, at the same age, having gone through the traditional school setting. Our children can talk and play with children their age as well as children younger and older then themselves."   

What has been the response from your children to this form of schooling?    

"We occasionally ask the kids if they'd like to go back to the traditional school setting, and without delay, they both refuse! In fact we threaten them that if they don't do well, that we'll force them back into that setting, and they assure us that they'll do their best, and that's all we can ask of them."

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