Tillie Elvrum talks about the 2012 Annual Publicschooloptions.org Family Reunion

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Yesterday, Rachel shared about her experience at the 2012 Public School Options Family Reunion and today Tille Elvrum is sharing about her time at the reunion.  Tillie is a good friend of mine and VP of the Colorado Coalition of Cyberschool Families. Tillie is also a Mentor for her 10th grader who attends Colorado Connections Academy.

Eight years ago my family began what has been an amazing experience…we started our first year as a cyberschool family with Connections Academy…little did I know that cyberschooling would lead me to Capitol Hill as a parent advocate.  I spent July 15th -17th in Washington, D.C. representing the Colorado Coalition of Cyberschool Families at the annual PublicSchoolOptions.Org Family Reunion.  Parent leaders, students, and educators from across the country came together to learn and share our experiences as school choice advocates.

During the first day of the Family Reunion we heard from leaders in the education reform movement, we had education policy briefings from the Obama and Romney campaigns, and took part in panel discussions featuring experienced parent advocates and cyberschool graduates.  In the afternoon we attended advocacy breakout sessions. I helped facilitate a discussion about the Effective Use of Media and Social Media.  I spoke about how our Coalition has used Letters to the Editor, Op-Eds, Twitter, Facebook, and blogs to promote and protect cyberschools in Colorado.  I was so encouraged by the passion and dedication of the parents attending the breakout sessions.

We spent our final day in Washington, D.C. on Capitol Hill.  We began the day with a cyberschool demonstration, performed by the 2012 American Pioneer of Teaching Award winner Paul Wulff and student Tamara Smathers.  They demonstrated what an online class looks like for legislators and their education staffers.  This was followed by a panel made up of parent advocates and moderated by Scott Groginsky, Rep. Jared Polis’s (R-CO) Legislative Assistant, the panelists discussed the benefits of online learning and answered questions from those in the audience.  The panel also encouraged legislators to get involved with the new e-Learning Caucus.  This exciting new caucus will serve as a community of legislators within the House of Representatives focused on better understanding and advancing federal policy in relation to e-learning.  Family Reunion attendees then spent the rest of their day meeting with their home legislative offices.  I had the privilege of joining cyberschool graduate, Rachel Solzano, and her mother, Cynthia, as we spoke with legislative staffers from Sen. Michael Bennet (D-CO) and Rep. Doug Lamborn’s (R-CO) offices.  We discussed what online learning means to us and encouraged our legislators to promote and protect online learning in Colorado.

The PublicSchoolOptions.Org Family Reunion was a whirlwind of panels and discussions, but I left energized and encouraged to take what I learned back home and continue to work on behalf of the thousands of cyberschool families in Colorado.

To learn more about Connections Academy, Public School Options, and the Colorado Coalition of Cyberschool Families please visit:

http://www.colorado.connectionsacademy.com

http://www.publicschooloptions.org/

http://www.coloradocyberfamilies.org/home/

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