Miranda Cavaness is a board certified behavior analyst (BCBA) and has worked in the field of applied behavior analysis since 2014. She operates Arrows Academy, a microschool in Paragould.

Having grown up with both parents working in public education, and having attended public school myself, I understand why Gwen Faulkenberry wrote so passionately about the need to protect public schools in “In this together: Vouching for public schools.” 

However, I have learned from both personal and professional experience, that education isn’t one size fits all. I have seen the need for additional education options beyond traditional public schools.

My son, Carter, has ASD, dyslexia, PTSD and generalized anxiety disorder. He started out in public school and functioned relatively well until third grade. Then, he started falling further and further behind in reading and having more and more panic attacks at school. The large class sizes were too much for him, and he was being bullied. He started skipping breakfast in the cafeteria because it caused him too much stress.

We could not afford to send him to a private school, but I wasn’t sure how I was going to educate my child and continue working full time. Overwhelmed, I spent substantial time and money searching for materials to begin homeschooling him. 

Fortunately, I found a local homeschool group with more than 100 children enrolled, and then found programs and materials through the Prenda microschool model. We opened Arrows Academy in August to help other families in similar situations, and it filled up immediately. 

From a professional perspective, I have a master’s degree in clinical psychology and am a board-certified behavior analyst. Through my work with children on the autism spectrum and with other disabilities, I have learned some school districts are simply not equipped to tend all students, especially those with significant behavioral issues.  

We currently have two schools paying for children to come to Arrows Academy due to significant maladaptive behaviors that the school is unable to address safely. I also serve several other children whom the school has placed in homebound service, which usually consists of a paraprofessional coming to the home 30 minutes to an hour a week to “educate” the children. Where public schools — by their own admission — could not help these students, Arrows Academy has given them a learning environment designed to fit their needs.  There is no good reason for the state to pay more than $100,000 to “socially promote” a child to graduation, when it can pay a fraction of that cost with a better outcome for the child. 

As for Carter, he is flourishing in the microschool. He is now reading on grade level and has made significant progress in math. His anxiety levels have calmed to the point where he is able to speak in front of gatherings and lead prayers. He even acted in a local production of The Lion King Jr.! 

So, I support programs that give families access to alternative education options. It’s not a scam, and no one is trying to defund public schools. I just know there is no worse feeling for a special needs parent, or really any parent, than knowing there are resources available to get your kids the best care, education and future possible, but not being able to access them. Families should be able to access the resources their children need, including private schooling, regardless of income.