Very soon Governor Scott will have the opportunity to sign HB 7069, an education bill that my family desperately needs. I hope that for the sake of other families like ours, the Governor will sign this bill.
Our twins, now in 7th grade, were born extremely premature at 27 ½ weeks. Because of that, they each deal with their own major health, behavioral, and learning issues, including severe ADHD and permanent visual impairment. As the twins went through elementary school it became clear that the traditional neighborhood brick and mortar schools were not meeting their needs. The teachers did not understand their individual needs and the twins acted out at school, were emotionally withdrawn and suffered shaming and bullying by both students and teachers. Year after year, the situation wasn’t improving and we were desperate for another option for our kids.
After a lot of research we found what we had been praying for – a school that fit their needs. We found public virtual school. Finally, we could bring the twins home for school while still having them taught by actual teachers with a challenging curriculum. It was an adjustment and the first year wasn’t easy, but it changed the twins’ lives. They excelled academically, mentally and emotionally. I love what virtual school did for my kids.
Unfortunately, when we moved to New Port Richey last year from Georgia, the twins couldn’t continue the virtual school that they needed. Florida law requires all students to attend a traditional brick and mortar public school for at least one year before enrolling in a full-time public virtual school. To me, this law makes no sense. If a virtual school is what works best for a child, and it’s what their parents choose, why should they be forced to go to the local public school for an entire year? What is the point? HB7069 eliminates this prior public school requirement.
This past year has been a devastating setback for the twins as we’ve been forced to homeschool them, an option that does not fit their special needs. For them, a stable and predictable education is what they need. This erroneous law has kept them – and will continue to keep them – from having a seamless education for no reason that I can understand.
As parents we know our children best and we need to be trusted to make educational decisions for them. No one wants a child to succeed more than their parents – academically, socially and emotionally.
Moving is hard enough on children, but it shouldn’t be made harder because of decisions made by lawmakers and education officials. I strongly urge Governor Scott to sign HB7069 so that my kids, and all others who want the opportunity, can attend a virtual school anytime they choose. The prior public school requirement does nothing but delay the chance for our kids to succeed.
Jennifer Wilcoxson and her family live in New Port Richey and she is a member of PublicSchoolOptions.org.