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California Virtual Academy at San Mateo Recognized For High Achievement in Student Success

DALY CITY, Calif., May 23, 2016 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/

California Schools Selected for Prestigious Honor Roll Issued By National Campaign of Business and Education Leaders

California Virtual Academy at San Mateo, an online public charter school, announced today that is has been selected by Educational Results Partnership (ERP) and the Campaign for Business and Education Excellence (CBEE) as one of the select public schools in California to receive the title of 2015 Honor Roll school.

“California Virtual Academy at San Mateo is proud to be recognized as an Honor Roll school,” said Don Burbulys, President of the charter school’s nonprofit board of directors. “Making the Honor Roll is a credit to our entire school community of teachers, counselors, administrators, and parents who are dedicated to educating children and doing what is right. We are proud to be a public education option for families in California, and to be recognized by the California business community for our achievement and commitment to helping students succeed.”

The Honor Roll is part of a national effort to identify higher-performing schools and highlight successful practices that improve outcomes for students. Schools receiving this distinction from leaders in the California academic and business communities have demonstrated consistent high levels of student academic achievement, improvement in achievement levels over time and reduction in achievement gaps among student populations.

The Honor Roll is comprised of two different awards, the “Star Schools” Award and “Scholar Schools” Award. California Virtual Academy at San Mateo was given the “Star Schools” award which is given to schools with significant populations of socio-economically disadvantaged students that have shown a significant increase in grade-level proficiency over time.

California Virtual Academy at San Mateo is authorized by Jefferson Elementary School District.

“Congratulations to California Virtual Academy at San Mateo,” said Bernie Vidales, Superintendent of Jefferson Elementary School District. “It is a great accomplishment and a testament to the commitment of the school’s teachers and staff to student achievement and continuous improvement.”

“We as adults have the opportunity to remove obstacles and boost momentum along the pathway from preschool to career,” said Lee Blitch, ERP Board Chairman and President of the San Francisco Chamber of Commerce. “When we close achievement gaps, we set our children on a path of productivity that not only leads to success in the classroom, but also prepares them to contribute to and benefit from a more productive economy. These Honor Roll schools are setting their students on the path to a college degree and the financial security of a living wage job.”

“The American education system has a secret,” said Jim Lanich, ERP president and CEO. “Many schools are doing well and the Honor Roll proves it. Students are achieving at higher levels than anyone admits and more students than ever are succeeding when given the opportunity. All schools, no matter what zip code they are in, can achieve this kind of success. Leadership from the business community is critical to ensuring successes for all students.”

Read full article here.

Online school: The way out for bullying victims?

By Charity Lindsey | Desert Dispatch | December 12, 2015

Hesperia parent turns to CAVA for relief for her sixth-grader

With one out of every four students reporting being bullied during the school year, according to StopBullying.gov, online school has become an ideal option for some families. Such was the case for one Hesperia family.

Although Hesperia resident Esther Hiers eventually sought this option for her son, who she says was being physically and verbally bullied at Adelanto Elementary, her immediate reaction wasn’t to pull him out.

Hiers first went through the school’s method of reporting an incident of bullying, and waited.

Her sixth-grade asthmatic son, Joel, continued to come home heaving and bruised after being repeatedly punched. When Joel showed up in a full asthma attack during the middle of a school day after he’d climbed the school’s fence to escape his bullies, Hiers said she knew she had to take action.

Hiers said that after many meetings with Joel’s teacher, the principal and school district officials, all that she was told was that “they’d investigate it.”

Adelanto Elementary Principal Ramon Rizo said that when reports of bullying are received, “it’s a process” to address them.

“We talk to the students, talk to teachers, parents,” Rizo said. “We try to make it a team effort.”

Adelanto Elementary School District officials said they could not comment on any specific case of bullying to protect minor confidentiality.

“When they get to the district level, we take all the complaints very seriously,” AESD Director of Child Welfare and Attendance Peter Livingston said. “The difficulty often times is that schools don’t know it’s going on. Once the school site does know, we can start the investigation to put in place mechanisms to address bullying.”

But even after all of this, Hiers said that Joel’s bullies continued. She said her son never noticed any change in his abusers, nor any absence that might have been attributed to disciplinary action.

“I told the school I started paperwork to get him in CAVA,” Hiers said, referring to Joel’s current online school, California Virtual Academies. “A child cannot learn anything if they’re worried about someone trying to hit them.”

Joel began at CAVA this school year, and Hiers said that since then he’s become “a much happier kid.”

“He’s able to concentrate on his studies better because he doesn’t have to worry about being bullied,” Hiers said. “He’s not coming home with tears anymore.”

Although at online schools like CAVA there is still a risk of cyberbullying, which about 12 percent of grade level students report experiencing according to StopBullying.gov, school officials said that all student interaction can be monitored by the teachers.

CAVA Academic Administrator April Warren said that bullying is a very common reason why students try the online program.

“Often either the student is experiencing bullying personally or the parent has been made aware of what they consider (is) an unsafe campus and want to try to keep their child out of that environment,” Warren said.

Warren said that online school is “very second nature” for students today, and that although “it’s not a model that works for every child,” it is “a natural solution” for many.

“What I’ve noticed is that students are able to really blossom and grow because there’s that little bit of protection not sitting in front of people and wondering what they’re thinking about you,” Warren said. “You’re able to come out of your shell a bit more.”

This has been exactly the case for Joel, according to his mother.

“He couldn’t make friends very well in regular school,” Hiers said. “He has friends at CAVA and he’s playing with the other kids.”

Joel has the opportunity to play with his peers at CAVA’s “Community Days,” which are held weekly at various sites close to families, including Hesperia for Joel’s class.

Warren said that CAVA and other grade school online programs aren’t usually much like college online classes like many people might think, instead providing students with “a lot of hands-on activity” and “a lot more flexibility.”

“Ultimately it should be about finding the program that fits the child, instead of trying to make the child fit the program.”

Read full article here.

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Cambrian brothers Kyle and Carlos Plummer will screen their documentary ‘Tour of Honor’ at the SLOIFF on March 16

by Glen Starkey | New Times San Louis Obispo

You’ll be flooded with emotion watching Tour of Honor, a stirring documentary that chronicles a trip orchestrated by Honor Flight Central Coast California (honorflightccc.org), an organization that flies American war veterans to Washington, D.C., to visit their respective war memorials.

You’ll also be amazed when you discover that the 54-minute documentary—which will screen with two other films at 7:15 p.m. in Mission Cinemas (next to Fremont Theater) at the 2016 San Luis Obispo International Film Festival (SLOIFF)—was created locally by two young brothers: Kyle and Carlos Plummer.

“We were both born and raised here in SLO County and are proud residents of Cambria,” Carlos explained in an email interview. “We started making this film when Kyle was 17 and I was 13. Kyle is now 19 and I’m 14, turning 15 in April. I attend California Virtual Academies, a public charter school, and Kyle is currently attending Dixie State University in St. George, Utah, studying communications with an emphasis in film. We learned filmmaking mostly through experience starting way back in 2007 and ’08 when we made our first short film Indiana Jones and the Crystals of Eternity and our award-winning film The Magic Hat.”

The Plummer brothers attended the very first SLOIFF filmmaking workshop in 2008, and they’ve been honing their skills ever since. Tour of Honor features effective camera work and film editing, and makes excellent use of its soundtrack and score to increase the emotional potency of what is already an emotionally wrought subject. For these American war veterans, recalling their wartime service can be difficult and cathartic.

“We learned about Honor Flight through Ron Waltman of the American Legion Post 432 as well as Cheryl and Robert Tolan of Welcome Home Military Heroes, while making a documentary about them,” Carlos said. “We were very intrigued by the subject and learned that we are losing our World War II veterans at an increasing rate. We decided this would be a worthy documentary subject; in doing other short documentaries, we learned the impact these veterans have had on our country and felt that honoring them by telling their amazing stories would be our way of giving back to them. Kyle and our father, Jeff, went on the flight and documented it from start to finish. I edited the film, taking several hours of footage and honing it into the powerful 54-minute film, which will be shown at the festival.”

Read full article here.

School districts look to save money, provide better education with their own cyberschools

Bentworth Assistant Superintendent George Lammay is feeling both frustrated and hopeful as the new school year is set to begin. Like many other school officials throughout Washington and Greene counties, Lammay is tired of seeing such a large portion of Bentworth School District’s yearly budget disappear to cover cyberschool costs.

Last year alone, the district paid more than $300,000 for about 25 students living within the district who instead attended a cyberschool of their choosing.

Lammay said the budgetary strain, and the fact students who return to the district from cyber programs are often unprepared or have fallen behind, has led the district to introduce the Bentworth Cyber Academy. The cyber program – Bentworth contracted with Fuel Education – will offer online curriculum for students in grades five through 12. Aspects of the program will also be used with traditional students to offer more electives and to expand the district’s science, technology, engineering, arts and math initiative.

Bentworth is not alone. Many school districts within the two-county region are starting to offer their own cyber programs to combat similar problems.

Parents have the option to pull their children from the school district in which they live and enroll them in the cyber or charter school of their choosing. According to Pennsylvania Department of Education, charter schools are self-managed public schools that are approved by local school districts. Cyber charter schools are approved by the state Department of Education. Both are created and controlled by parents, teachers, community leaders and colleges or universities.

Charter schools operate free from many educational mandates, except for those concerning nondiscrimination, health and safety and accountability.

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U.S. Senate Votes Unanimously to Pass Resolution Recognizing Jan. 24-30, 2016 as “National School Choice Week”

WASHINGTON–(BUSINESS WIRE)–The United States Senate tonight voted unanimously to recognize the week of January 24-30, 2016 as “National School Choice Week.”

This is the second year in a row that the U.S. Senate has recognized National School Choice Week, which is the largest annual celebration of opportunity in K-12 education.

The primary sponsor of the resolution was U.S. Senator Tim Scott. Cosponsors included U.S. Senators Cory Booker (D-NJ), Mike Enzi (R-WY), Dianne Feinstein (D-CA), Ted Cruz (R-TX), Lamar Alexander (R-TN), Cory Gardner (R-CO), Ron Johnson (R-WI), Bill Cassidy (R-LA), Steve Daines (R-MT), John Cornyn (R-TX), David Vitter (R-LA), Thom Tillis (R-NC), Kelly Ayotte (R-NH), Orrin Hatch (R-UT), Roger Wicker (R-MS), David Perdue (R-GA), James Lankford (R-OK), and Mike Crapo (R-ID).

The resolution calls on all Americans to celebrate education options for children and families.

Held from January 24-30, National School Choice Week 2016 features 16,140 events across the country, including rallies and events at 20 state capitol buildings. Thirty-three U.S. governors, along with more than 240 mayors and county leaders have issued official proclamations commemorating National School Choice Week in 2016. State legislatures in Alaska, Delaware, South Carolina, and Michigan have also passed resolutions recognizing the Week.

“We are honored that the United States Senate has once again designated the last week in January as National School Choice Week,” said Andrew Campanella, president of National School Choice Week. “We are very grateful for Senator Tim Scott’s leadership and persistence in authoring this resolution and in helping raise awareness — in a bipartisan way — about the many important education options that parents have, or want to be able to have, for their children’s education, including traditional public schools, public charter schools, public magnet schools, private schools, online academies, and homeschooling.”

For more information about National School Choice Week, visit www.schoolchoiceweek.com.

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