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Virtual school a great school choice for us

• Mike Thomas

My daughter is in history class while I’m sitting across the room from her writing this blog. We are in Orlando. Her teacher is in Tampa.

I have no idea where her classmates are.

Caroline is in Florida Virtual School. We opted for this class because the history class at her school wasn’t working out. And so two weeks ago we decided to switch to FVS.

How is it working out?

Well, other parents can’t get their kids off the computer because they’re immersed in Facebook or some other mind-wasting web site. I can’t get my kid off the computer because she’s following George Washington across the Delaware River.

Her first evening, she cranked out a six-page report on manatees, submitted it and recorded her first A.

One of the concerns about virtual schools is getting students to do the work without a taskmaster at the front of the class.

That’s certainly not the case here.

Caroline loves the content, enjoys the freedom of going to class whenever she wants, and can go at her own pace, unencumbered by classmates who don’t carry their share of the load in small group projects. Her guidance counselor was great and facilitated the move.

Starting class in November could have been a risk because if she doesn’t finish by the end of the school year it could hinder her moving on to high school. Her counselor warned me the class would be more rigorous.

No problem. Caroline may well wrap this up by March.

Did I mention my kid is smarter than me?

As to the quality of the education, all I can go by is her telling me that she’s learning a lot more than she was in her old class.

Let me add, however, that this is just history. She very much enjoys her other classes at school, such as geometry, Spanish and particularly band.

I’m not thinking a virtual band class would work. At least today’s technology. Give it five years.

Now that we know the quality of FVS classes and how well the model fits Caroline, this experience opens up options in high school.

Choice is a wonderful thing.

Mike Thomas (@MikeThomasTweet) can be reached at

About the author

Mike Thomas @MikeThomasTweet

Mike Thomas serves in the communications department, writing editorials and speeches. Prior to joining the Foundation, Mike worked for more than 30 years as a journalist with Florida Today and the Orlando Sentinel. He has written investigative projects, magazine feature stories, humor pieces, editorials and local columns. He won several state and national awards, and was named a finalist in the American Society of New Editors’ Distinguished Writing Award for Commentary/Column Writing in 2010. As a columnist for the Orlando Sentinel, he wrote extensively about education reform, becoming one of its chief advocates in the Florida media. Mike graduated from the University of Florida with degrees in political science and journalism. His wife is a teacher and he has two children in public schools. Contact Mike at