Thursday, July 31, 2008

my letter to our school superintendent

Dear Sir:
It came to my attention yesterday morning after a phone conversation with your Director of Educational Choices, Dr. Sonia Esposito, that Osceola County has chosen not to take any action to ensure a virtual school opportunity for the 08/09 school year. While I understand the confusion and hesitation surrounding a new teaching product, I do not feel that this decision is in the spirit of the new virtual school bill that recently passed.

Our right as parents to have an educational choice was stripped from us with no forewarning - myself and many others followed the process in April and May of this year to enroll our children for the upcoming year in our statewide elementary virtual school choices, Florida Connections Academy and Florida Virtual Academy. We made plans for our children and were unprepared, much as you are, for the new virtual school bill and its ramifications. Even today, less than three weeks before the start of school, most of us do not have a concrete answer.

I'm not sure I understand why Osceola County would choose inaction for the 08/09 school year. Families from Celebration, Kissimmee, Poinciana, St Cloud, and everywhere in between with students who were prepared to enter virtual school will be faced with the choice of homeschooling their children or sending them to a traditional public or private school. Most parents I have spoken to will now have to send their children to public school; a few will homeschool.

What benefits can denying a contract with FCA and FVA have for Osceola County? A virtual schooled student is not draining resources such as transportation, administration, janitorial services, or any of the other ancillary expenses that go along with a brick and mortar education. A virtual schooled student has the opportunity to attend an A rated school regardless of their zoning. In our personal experience with FCA, a virtual schooled student has the opportunity to excel at his or her own pace and grow from an emerging reader to reading above grade level in just a few short months. Why would Osceola County want to deny its residents an exceptional educational choice that is top quality, has been active and successful for multiple years, and that will ultimately save the county money?

I urge you to consider your choices again for the 08/09 school year. Hillsborough County has posted on their website that they have accepted contracts from both FCA and FVA for this school year. I urge you to speak with Hillsborough's superintendent and ask them how they made their decisions.Osceola County still has the opportunity to do the right thing and let its students attend the virtual schools they've already grown to love.

Thank you for your time and consideration.


Tuesday, July 29, 2008

another fruitless day

I am so sick of looking for rental houses! We desperately need a bigger place with a yard the kids can be banished to...err, I mean, go out and play in. I don't even care about the bigger part at this point, I just want the yard! We have done drive-bys of literally hundreds of houses and the select few that have fit our needs and budget seem always to be snatched from our grasp just as we find them. Sometimes I hate Florida with a passion. I don't understand why it's okay - even preferred - to have some big ugly square featureless monstrosity of a 3000sf house jammed on a teeny lot of dead grass, sandwiched in a neighborhood of 500 houses just like it with your neighbors, who you'll likely never even meet,  just 5 feet away. When did that become "luxury living?" I don't get it. I know it's hot here, but if they didn't flatten every tree on site to build these homes there'd be some shade and everything would be great. But I guess when you're both working 2 jobs and the kids are in daycare all day and you only see each other over a dinner of KFC, a fight to get the kids to bed, and cleaning, shopping, and trekking to Disney on the weekends, you don't really need a yard. How did we come to this?

The sad thing is that the house owners and property management groups by and large are a worthless lot who don't even have the courtesy to call you back when you inquire about a house. You'd think this casual attitude would just be on craigslist, but it's actually rampant in the real estate circles as well. Way to score some business! This is a time of absolute starvation for realtors with the housing market so dismal - you'd think they'd want the quick money a rental has to offer.

My other option is to go buy a second car (that runs). If DH had a car that got better gas mileage and we took the Blazer, we could go to places like the park and store during the day and being stuck at home wouldn't be as much of an issue. But there's just something about having a real yard where you can set up a swingset for the kids and have a garden and a dog and it all is just a step through your door. It's such a tough decision because we don't really have the money to do both if we want to save anything for buying a house a year or two down the road. I hate decisions like this!