February 15, 2023

Ashley Batchler-Ouattara: “It is important to have our voices heard”

What’s a Rich Text element?

What’s a Rich Text element?

What’s a Rich Text element?

What’s a Rich Text element?

What’s a Rich Text element?
What’s a Rich Text element?

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This month PSO celebrates advocates from the black community who fight boldly for education equity. Success happens when #AllVoices are heard in the pursuit of achievement options for our children. This week, we are honored to feature Ashley's story...

Ashley Batchler-Ouattara, MBA describes her family’s alternative learning option as “a blessing in disguise” after her oldest son experienced bullying in 1st grade and began attending Pennsylvania Virtual Charter School the following year.

Achievement options “has broadened my children’s future opportunities,” says the mother of four from Philadelphia, PA.

“Virtual school along with traditional homeschool courses has changed the way my children view learning… We have been able to take control of what and how we learn and have found a way to make learning fun and enjoyable!”

Contrary to a common misconception about virtual learning, her sons have very active social lives. The family is enrolled in the school’s async program which allows students the flexibility to learn on their own schedule, and because of this Ashley says her children can pursue more extracurricular activities and interests.  

“My children are involved in sports, play instruments, and experience play dates and group activities frequently. They are both very outgoing and socially aware.”

Over the past year Ashley has used her story to raise awareness of the educational options parents have, especially as a member of the African American community.

“What inspired me to get involved was to share the story of how alternative school choice has positively affected an African American family. Unfortunately, African American families are not always visible when discussing virtual/homeschool. However, there is a rising number of families in our community who are choosing this style of education.  It is important to have our voices heard and our stories represented. Representation is key and very important for our community, especially if there are families who are starting an alternative school journey” 

Her children have also found a new passion for advocacy and enjoy meeting with politicians in their state to share their positive school experiences. 

“My children have had the pleasure to meet senators and state representatives. Prior to attending PA Virtual our family was unaware of these opportunities. Both of my children find it exciting, and now have an interest in how the country governs education.”

One of the family’s most memorable moments was meeting Pennsylvania State Senator Anthony H. Williams (D-8), with Ashley noting, “it has been such a pleasure to touch base with him on several occasions and share our story and experiences with him.”

Ashley with her son and Pennsylvania State Senator Anthony H. Williams (D-8)
Ashley's sons with Pennsylvania State Senator Anthony H. Williams (D-8)

We asked Ashley what advice she would provide to parents who may be frustrated with their current educational options. She says parents are the best advocates for their child’s education.

“My best advice for parents is to block out the noise and listen to yourself and your children. It is always best to follow your intuition as a parent and properly advocate for your children. Education and learning should never cause families frustration or anxiety.” 

Ashley has taken these words to heart and will continue to speak out for parent choice.  

“I am grateful it has provided a platform for my family to share our personal story and a way to make sure our voices are heard. It has allowed me to become active in my community and speak up for what I believe to be right.”

Want to share your story? We want to hear it! Email jessica@publicschooloptions.org to be featured on our blog and social media channels.

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