As the 2014-2015 school year gears up, the Tennessee Virtual Academy once again finds itself under attack from lawmakers. Though state test scores have not yet been released to the public, lawmakers argue that the Tennessee Virtual Academy has fallen below expectations for the third year running—and that first-year students are performing more poorly than students who have been enrolled in the Virtual Academy for quite some time.
As of right now, a waiver is being requested to un-enroll more than 600 students who have been legally accepted into the Tennessee Virtual Academy—including kindergarten-level students with older siblings already enrolled in the school.
The edict does not take into consideration a number of factors that come along with enrolling in a new school: the transition to a new environment; learning a different way; and even students who may have already been well behind academically. It also does not consider the fact that there may not be good alternatives available for many of the students affected by this decision.
The Tennessee Virtual Academy has been seen for quite some time as a valuable resource for many parents who require a non-traditional way to educate their children. For many, traditional homeschooling is daunting, even terrifying. Parents may not possess the educational background to support their students’ learning in this manner—but TNVA teachers do.
Parents are outraged. This is the choice that they have made for their children. They were accepted. Most of them already have their materials organized and ready to go for the new school year, which begins on August 4. Now, the state is telling them that they don’t have the right to make that choice—even if it’s one that they’ve already made for their other children.
Not a whisper of this controversy reached parents ahead of time, and many of them are now left with no idea what they’re going to do for their students if this resolution goes through and they are denied entry into the Tennessee Virtual Academy. In fact, as early as the end of the last school year, teachers were assuring parents that the 2014-2015 school was assured regardless of test score results.
Unfortunately, that is proving to be untrue.
What are the parents of these 600+ students supposed to do now? How will their lives be affected by someone who is looking at a single set of data? Obviously, Union County Schools, the district base for the Tennessee Virtual Academy, is stuck between a rock and a hard place. If they do not remove these students, they could well find the school shut down altogether. On the other hand, those six hundred students may well be thrown to the wind in an effort to continue serving at least this small portion of the population.
For now, those students are still in limbo, waiting for the decision to be handed down. Popular support, however, seems to rest on the side of the Tennessee Virtual Academy.