Editor’s Note: The story has been edited to remove the name of a school that is not connected to this new proposed rule change. We regret the error.
OKLAHOMA CITY (KFOR) — A rule change is on the table for the state of Oklahoma that would get rid of virtual alternative education, possibly forcing some students and teachers to move to an in-person classroom setting.
The proposed rule would require a school day of at least four hours and 12 minutes for schools using a 180-day academic year calendar or for students to be “present on site” for at least 756 hours of academic instruction for those counting total instructional hours toward the state’s minimum academic year calendar.
Parents, teachers and even students took to the podium to express their concern with the Oklahoma Department of Education possibly making rule changes to virtual alternative education.
Many said it’s taking the choice out of the family’s hands for the education they want for their child.
“Students need to have the choice to have the platform that works for them, and the alternative education in a distance, virtual environment needs to be one of those choices,” said Marsha Leonard, teacher at Insight School of Oklahoma.
Advocates for virtual alternative education voiced their opinions after the State Department of Education announced some possible rule changes that would eliminate virtual education.
“What I can say without a doubt is that Insight saved my daughter,” said Wendy Mark, mother. “We went from desperation, to hope and excitement for the future.”
Parents and even students expressed how traditional school did not work for them, but virtual education has given them new life.
“This is the best school that I’ve ever been to, and if you take this away, you’re taking millions of chances of a career in the future,” said Paris Davis, student at Insight School of Oklahoma. “You’re stripping people’s dreams.”
However, some people said the proposed rule changes are for the best.
“What we know through our experiences and what I know through my experience is that in-person learning is best practice,” said Chris Ducker, principal of Union Alternative School. “Students need to be with their teachers. They need to be with each other.”
Ducker goes on to say this shouldn’t be a battle of virtual versus in-person education.
“We want virtual learning for those students who choose that, but that is not by definition, what alternative education should be, because we know what’s best for our students,” Ducker said.
More than two dozen people spoke at today’s hearing, with one representative from the Oklahoma Department of Education sitting in and taking notes.
Right now, there isn’t an exact deadline for when the decision has to be made.