Originally published in The Idaho Press – January 23, 2021
As a school counselor at Idaho Virtual Academy, I have a unique opportunity to serve and advocate for students statewide. I work with students who are attending this online school because they have chosen to be here, not because it happens to be assigned within their ZIP code. The desire to attend a school of choice motivates students to engage with their learning and makes a tremendous impact on their self-confidence and sense of belonging.
The decision to choose an alternative environment is a result of many factors. Whether it is leaving previously unhealthy environments, changes in their family, or even wanting a more challenging or personalized curriculum, students deserve to have access to these options. And the impact of having this choice is truly inspiring.
I’ve witnessed students flourish academically and emotionally simply because their school is more accommodating of their needs. I’v counseled survivors of trauma who have thrived in the security another option provides. I’ve worked with students in rural parts of our state, miles from any college, who are able to graduate with Associates Degrees. I’ have experienced and seen firsthand the power that school choice has on transforming a student’s life.
Protecting school choice is now more important than ever. COVID-19 has changed our lives and has the potential to change a student’s learning dynamic. Providing them with the ability to choose a school that works for them can keep their education on track during a year that is unlike any other.
With National School Choice Week starting on January 24th, I urge all of us to call on our legislators to protect school choice. No matter the environment a student chooses to attend, whether in-person, online, or other, we need to protect their right to have a voice and choose their futures.
To learn more about Idaho Virtual Academy, visit idva.k12.com