Boot Camp Parents Shape Up to Impact Ed Policy

By: Beth Purcell

In the summer, camp options abound.  There’s Scout camp, swim camp, nature camp, music camp, basketball camp and more.  “Boot Camp” hardly sounds appealing given the competition…unless, that is, you are a parent who wants to shape and inform the education policy that affects your child.

Seventy-five such parents joined’s 2013 Annual Parent Advocacy Boot Camp, where they explored the national education debate and learned how to impact reform in their own states. The camp drew participants from 25 states, making it our most well attended Boot Camp yet.
But we didn’t limit our time solely to panels and breakout sessions.  Our parents tackled Capitol Hill, visiting with their state’s representatives and senators to communicate students’ need for public school options.  We also joined iNACOL for an interactive online learning demonstration hosted by theCongressional E-Learning Caucus. Launched in July 2012 by representatives Jared Polis and Kristi Noem, the bipartisan caucus was organized to educate members of Congress about the benefits of e-learning and improve federal support for quality online educational opportunities.
Having this organized support at the federal level is a strong sign of encouragement for all of our hard work at the state level.  We were excited to be part of the “learning lab” on Capitol Hill and were joined by an Ohio Virtual Academy student and her mother who were there to walk members and staff through an series of lessons with the support of several members of teacher team.
As we continue our hard work to expand public school options, make the case for equal and fair funding, and strive to remove enrollment caps, our ongoing outreach to educate others and raise awareness of online learning is integral do everything we do.
Beth Purcell is national board president of, which supports public school options.
Tom is a director at iNACOL.

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