My name is Chris Boyle, and I attended the forum Sunday afternoon at Congregational Church of Geneva regarding K12’s initiative to establish an Illinois Virtual Charter School in Fox River Valley which would encompass 18 school districts.
In regard to the remark that charter schools that use the K12 curriculum are consistently behind their peers of traditional public schools, I invite you to view the article from Chicago Magazine. Chicago Magazine identified the top public schools in Chicago; Cook, DuPage, Lake and Kane counties. Chicago Virtual Charter School ranked 14th in the city, which included the selective public powerhouse high schools of Northside College Prep, Walter Payton College Prep and Whitney Young Magnet. CVSC is a non-selective school as per its charter.
Thoughts from a Father
I have three children at the Chicago Virtual Charter School (CVCS): a daughter, 17, who’s a junior, a son, 14, in eighth grade and a son, 13, in seventh grade.
Initially, when I first heard about CVCS, I was skeptical about whether is it a quality of education, how it works, the level of involvement and commitment we would have to make.
My daughter, who’s intellectually gifted, was completely unchallenged, was constantly waiting for her peers to catch up and beginning to hang around with the wrong crowd. My older son, who is ADHD, struggled so much in the traditional schools which gave him headaches every day. He was picked on and bullied almost every day and hated going to school. It didn’t help when his teacher would help him go through his assignment notebook daily.
There were many times we talked to the teachers and principal regarding our children, and while he showed sympathy in our struggles regarding the influence of the students or the needs of our son, the school was not able to help in any way.
We finally decided to take matters in our own hands and registered our kids with CVCS, and I can tell you, it’s the best decision we’ve ever made.
From the moment we received our acceptance letters, this has been the most positive experience that we have encountered. The first week, we received two new computers and printers. Each of the kids received their own box of new books, including all the art supplies, science supplies. (Microscope, rock samples, etc.) We also received complete sets of teachers’ manuals for each grade so that we can follow along to understand their lessons.
Once the kids got the hang of the curriculum, they really seemed to get in their groove. My daughter is happier than ever, personally and academically and considers it a challenge to see how far she can push herself. In this environment, you can see your grades online and, as a parent, when your child tells you they're 1 point away from an A, and if I score 100 on my next quiz and test I’ll get that A—believe me, it’s not a bad thing.
My older son has probably made the most incredible turnaround ever, from that introverted, shy, picked-on kid who always forgot his homework. He has not taken any medication since he started in this school and is starting to find his way as a young man. His class participation, quality of work, and dedication to his schoolwork has grown exponentially. In the last year and a half, he has slowly risen to be one of the leaders in his class—something that would have never happen had we just stayed with the status quo.
My youngest son is nothing short of a total character. Previously he just did what was required, the minimum to get by and for the most part just cruised through school with C’s. We knew he was so much smarter than the C’s he was producing but getting him to apply himself was like pulling teeth.
Once he started at CVCS, it was once again an awakening, the combination of the curriculum, the staff and other students had a major effect. He was no longer doing the minimum but pushing himself. Since he started seeing his grades online, he also sees how his quizzes and test affect the overall grade and he gets upset with himself if he lets his grades drop.
From a support and encouragement perspective, we haven’t changed our approach to homework, studying, term papers and projects. The difference is the school—not only the curriculum but the teachers. The teachers at CVCS are second to none, every one of them, including the administrative staff. In my years as a parent and including my own education experience, I’ve never had a school staff that is more engaging with the students than at CVCS.
To the people of the Fox Valley area, you are about to vote on whether or not to allow K12 to establish a charter school in your area. The K12 curriculum is a different way learning. Change may seem to be scary, but from my point of view it is absolutely worth it.
I’m far removed from that parent that brags about their child, but in this case it may be pertinent:
- Peyton, 11th grade – Honor Roll
- Kieran, 8th grade – Honor Roll
- Collin, 7th grade – Honor Roll, National Junior Honor Society