More Than 1 in 3 Parents Indicate Bullying is Main Reason for Choosing Private Online Education
The stories will break your heart.
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Leo is a fourth grader at Grand Canyon Private Academy, a new private online school in Arizona that serves students in grades K-11. He transferred in from a traditional brick-and-mortar school where he was subject to vicious bullying, amplified by teachers and administrators who didn’t deal with it properly.
“At my other school I was bullied really bad every day, and nobody at the school even cared,” Leo said. “And it was hard to focus on school work, plus they didn’t even think I could do the work. They didn’t even give me a chance to show them I wasn’t stupid. I really am smart, and I like to work hard and get good grades.”
Leo would get so upset in class that he would be sent to the counselor’s office, where he would be told to “play with sand” while the child who was bullying him carried on with his day.
“I couldn’t even write a sentence when I left there,” Leo said. “Now I write whole pages…the teacher I have now doesn’t feel sorry for me and doesn’t give up on me.”
Leo’s story is not unique. In a survey of parents with children enrolled in Grand Canyon Private Academy’s parent network, K12, more than 35 percent of parents cited safety and mental health concerns as the primary reason for enrolling their child in online schools. And according to the National Bullying Prevention Center, 85 percent of students reporting bullying were bullied on school grounds or property.
Additionally, several other studies show parents increasingly turning to online learning to avoid bullying:
- A peer-reviewed study finds that in 2019, 33.7% of students in cyber schools cited bullying as a reason for enrollment. That number dropped in 2020 because COVID leads to an enrollment surge and a unique cohort of entrants to virtual schools.
- A recently published EdChoice report that looks exclusively at K12-powered schools reports that 48% of parents of students previously enrolled in other schools reported that their children faced bullying at the previous school. A Morning Consult poll sponsored by EdChoice among the general population of parents nationally found that a comparatively modest 27% of parents of children who switched schools cited bullying as a problem at the former school.
- A peer-reviewed study found that bullying at a previous school is a particularly strong motivating factor for special ed students who enroll in virtual schools.
- A just-published peer-reviewed study finds that "parents of non-binary students two to three times more likely to indicate mental health, safety, and bullying related concerns as motivating their choice of cyber schooling."
Parents and students are choosing online school for a variety of reasons — including advanced learning, and the ability to support extracurricular pursuits or medical needs — but a bullying-free environment is one of the leading factors. The online platforms give students the opportunity to pursue their academic goals in a supportive environment and at an appropriate pace for their learning style.
“It’s important to provide all students with an environment where they feel safe while learning,” said Janice Gruneberg, Senior Vice President & Superintendent of Schools for Grand Canyon Private Academy. “With Arizona’s new Empowerment Scholarship Account program, families now have options for private online education that did not exist before, giving them another choice for families who are concerned about the impact of bullying on their children.”
Arizona families have unique options for an online, private education curriculum suited to their child’s specific needs provided by K12, one of the nation’s leading online learning providers. And because these programs are virtual, students located anywhere in Arizona with an internet connection can access all of the educational options available — and take advantages of the safety provided by an online learning curriculum. Those options are:
- Grand Canyon Private Academy (GCPA), launched this past fall, a new online private school serving grades K-11 for the 2023-24 school year. The school’s curriculum features a dual enrollment program that enables students to graduate with an associate degree, seminar-based instruction with a collaborative and discussion-focused approach and an Early World Language Program that gives students the opportunity to graduate trilingual.
- FaithPrep Arizona, providing Arizona families with access to a private online Christian school and homeschool program for students in grades K-12.
These schools are tuition-free with use of the ESA program to all students who reside in Arizona, and are staffed by state-licensed teachers. They offer an individualized approach to learning, delivering rich, engaging designed to assist students who seek alternative pathways to education.
And both schools feature teachers who are specially trained in online instruction methods, including understanding and identifying cyberbullying. With more than 20 years of experience in online education, K12-powered schools offer a variety of family support resources that provide a holistic approach to learning that drives student success and engagement.
“We’ve seen first-hand how important it is to eliminate bullying from a child’s educational environment,” Gruneberg said. “Grand Canyon Private Academy and FaithPrep Arizona both emphasize a focus on safe learning that provides a great deal of peace of mind for families.”
The ESA program is being utilized by almost 50,000 Arizona students, providing them a pathway to a private school education at virtually no cost to their families.
Both schools are now accepting enrollments for the 2023-2024 school year. Families are encouraged to attend online information sessions hosted by the schools. For more information, visit the websites for Grand Canyon Private Academy and FaithPrep Arizona .
About Grand Canyon Private Academy
Grand Canyon Private Academy (GCPA) is an online private school serving grades K-11. The school is dedicated to inspiring and empowering students through an education experience tailored to their needs and focused on their futures. GCPA combines engaging, interactive Stride K12 curriculum with an integrated support team of school leaders, teachers, academic coaches, and counselors. For more information visit gcpa.k12.com .
About FaithPrep Arizona
FaithPrep Arizona provides Arizona families with access to a private online Christian education and homeschool program for students in grades K-12. The school is part of a group of successful faith-based schools across the country that helps students pursue academic excellence, develop Christian character, and discover their gifts, talents, and purpose to follow God's calling in life. For more information visit faithpreparizona.com .
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