TUKWILA, Wash. – With the recent confirmation of Education Secretary Betsy DeVos, there's been a lot of conversation about the future of public schooling. Some families say traditional public schools just aren’t for them.
“Sailing is my life because I've been sailing since I was basically less than a month old on my parents’ boat,” said 11-year-old Alex Zaputil, who attends Washington Virtual Academy, and hopes to someday sail in the Olympics.
He practices twice a week and races in regattas on weekends. It's quite a commitment, and his family says it's possible because he attends an online school.
“It's been sometimes challenging because of having to get all of your work done so you can go and sail, but it's worth it to go out on the water,” said Zaputil.
“If we have to leave on a Friday to get to the regatta, we just take our school work, we're doing it in the car, we're doing it in the hotel room,” said Vanessa Zaputil, Alex’s mom.
The Washington Virtual Academy is a partnership between the Omak School District and a company called K12 Inc. It's a good example of the kind of alternative schooling for which DeVos has shown support.
Lawmakers like Senator Patty Murray, D-Wash., are wary of DeVos and what she might do to the education system.
"For the first time ever we have someone who believes we should privatize for profit our public education system. I don't know how she will function if she is confirmed,” Murray said in an interview with KING 5.
A coalition of parents, teachers, administrators, and others are suing the state of Washington over charter schools. They say for-profit classrooms are unconstitutional because they divert public funding to privately-run schools that are unaccountable to Washington voters.
“I just think the education of our kids is so important and I know from my own experience and my son's experience that not all kids fit in one box, and the more options we can give to our kids, the better off we all will be,” said Vanessa Zaputil.
Alex Zaputil, who's now in 6th grade, plans to continue his online education through high school. His family says this lifestyle isn't for everyone, but it's an option that works for them.