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For the past two weeks, parents and advocates visited the capitol to discuss the importance of school choice. They shared their stories and met with legislators, urging them to support any legislation that could expand charter schools, improve virtual education or provide funding for families interested in private schools or homeschooling.
One such parent, Pam Buttram, talked about the importance of school choice in her own family. As a mother of two, this accountability came into play through their choice to homeschool. Her oldest child, a young boy with special needs and a birth defect, was struggling in public school.
His teachers would frequently place him in a behavior disorders classroom, a padded closet where they placed kindergarten through sixth-grade students when having a meltdown. For her son, much like many children with neurological disorders, these meltdowns were common.
Recognizing that an education was no longer happening, a discouraged Pam met with her son’s school and “talked about the federal laws that say ‘you know no one’s left behind’ and ‘disabled kids have accommodations,’ doesn’t happen, does not happen.” So in a last attempt to save her son, she began homeschooling.
Pam is certain, “it’s the best thing we ever did.”
After only three years of a homeschooled education before returning to public high school, her youngest son, who has had no health problems, was way ahead of his peers. Being self-taught allowed his curiosity to foster.
For other parents, like Paul Waite, similar experiences seemed to occur. His son would frequently come home with behavioral notices and no understanding of why he was receiving them. Paul tried to support his child, but without any idea of what his son was doing wrong, he felt unable to fight back.
Finally, after countless failed attempts to receive an explanation from the school, Paul and his wife decided it best to homeschool. They have since been homeschooling for eighteen years and now feel closer to their children than ever before.
Although Paul acknowledges that homeschooling is not a perfect solution for everyone, he explains that for his family, it’s a much better approach.
He and his wife co-teach in three-hour shifts. His wife covers reading, math, and language arts, and then, once Paul gets home from work, he transitions to history and geography. Together, they tackle the sciences.
Sometimes, over the weekend, they will even engage their children in extracurricular activities. These extracurriculars usually involve learning opportunities found within the community and focus heavily on their children’s’ interests.
Noting that “you are your child’s best teacher” parents like Camellia Plosser also support Paul’s approach.
Because “children learn in different ways,” Camellia opted in favor of homeschooling. It was cost-effective and gave her kids the best opportunity to succeed. Camellia believes that all parents need education freedom because “parents need more options and more freedom to be able to determine what is best for their child.”
In Camellia’s case, school choice gave her family options and empowered them to feel in control.
For advocate Ma’kayla Gray, these issues were all too familiar. As a recent graduate herself, the twenty-one-year-old wants people to know that their voice matters. “Education isn’t just for people who have kids or who are in education,” Ma’kayla says, “it’s for everybody.”
These laws affect everyone, and knowing this, Ma’kayla’s concern is that people in her demographic might “feel like this doesn’t concern us, this is for our parents, this is for our grandparents. It’s not. It’s for us. We’re the ones that’s going to make a change.”
Ma’kayla is a concerned citizen and representative of Bridge to Hope, and urges you to move forward knowing that “yes your voice does matter, and speak it.”