Every family in Missouri has a story about the challenges they’ve faced over the last year due to the disrupted learning environment from COVID-19. However, many families have been struggling with their children’s education well before that — and through no fault of their own.
As a mother to a third-grader and a guardian to my two eighth-grade siblings, it is my responsibility to find the educational option that works best for us. That’s why I decided to enroll my son in the Missouri Virtual Academy (MOVA) in February 2020, shortly before the pandemic began. We decided to make the transition primarily due to medical concerns but also because of bullying, acting out in class due to boredom, and poor instruction.
Our school district very reluctantly approved my son to enroll in MOVA but forced us to enroll my two siblings into another virtual program called Launch. Once all three were off and running, it was obvious that MOVA was leaps and bounds ahead of Launch in terms of the quality of education being provided.
Unfortunately, like many families, I had to fight with our school district for several weeks until it finally approved me to move my siblings into MOVA. Not only were we discouraged from moving to MOVA, the school district forced me to come in and demonstrate the differences between the programs.
It is not my job as a parent and guardian to demonstrate to school officials how different education programs work. However, it is my job to ensure my family receives the best education available.
Since we were able to sort this out, we’ve happily been with MOVA and have no plans to return to a brick-and-mortar school. As a parent, I worry for other families that have to go through similar situations, and those families that don’t know they have access to a better option.
I urge the Missouri Legislature to fix MOCAP, and give parents the power to choose the best education for their child — just as the law was intended.
Julie Smith is a resident of Leadwood.