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Posted at 5:00 AM ET, 12/14/2010

Where education reform is heading: From extreme to extremum

By Valerie Strauss

If you want to understand where public education reform is heading, look south and east to Florida, where the governor-elect, Rick Scott, is talking about a new funding student formula that is more likely to destroy the public school system than accomplish anything else.

Scott wants to expand a voucher program that allows low-income and disabled students to use public money to go to private schools to ALL students.

Here’s how it would work, according to a preliminary plan: Vouchers, euphemistically termed “education savings accounts,” would be created and the state would deposit public education funds into them for each eligible students. Parents would shop for the school they like -- public or private -- and help pay for it with 85 percent of the state’s per-student funding figure -- which this year is $6,843.

State public education money would no longer flow through a public education system.

The idea may well be the most radical public education idea any state has ever considered, as the St. Petersburg Time noted.

Once upon a time in America, it may have sounded preposterous not only in concept but in chances of implementation.

But the Republicans in Florida, who just tightened their control in the state capital in the last election, are making in clear that they are determined to push for such a system in the state legislature next year.

There are legal, constitutional and other hurdles, but in today’s political and education atmosphere, no bad idea is impossible to implement.

There have long been those who have advocated for the destruction of the current system; in a 2007 Weekly Standard article, author David Gelernter argues for a system of private schools that would be paid for with public funds. Sound familiar?

A 2009 paper by the conservative Goldwater Institute in Arizona, outlined how a universal voucher program could work, and it was supported by the Foundation for Florida’s Future, one of former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush’s vehicles for promoting change. Bush is still the most powerful politician in the Sunshine State.

The notion that private schools would inherently be any better than a system of public schools overlooks all the key factors -- poverty being the first but not the only one -- that affect our most troubled public schools right now.

Such a system in Florida faces a number of obstacles. The Florida Constitution calls for a “uniform system of free public schools.” The state Supreme Court in 2006 struck down one voucher program, the Opportunity Scholarships, based on this language; two other voucher programs -- for low-income families and for disabled students -- have yet to be tested in court.

Nobody knows how much such a system would cost, or how the state would pay for it; Florida already has a $2.5 billion budget-deficit, and Scott is talking about cutting school property taxes almost 20 percent and eliminating the corporate tax, according to the St. Petersburg Times.

One of the ironies of this whole idea is that the folks who support it are big supporters of “accountability” in education. That means grading schools and students and teachers on standardized test scores. But private schools aren’t subject to this type of accountability. And some public charter schools aren’t either.

According to a summary on charter schools from the Florida Legislature’s Office of Program Analysis & Government Accountability: “Due to grade configurations and small enrollment, 124 out of 382 charter schools (32%) did not earn a grade or school improvement rating as part of Florida’s accountability system during the 2008-09 school year. In contrast, 353 out of 3,138 (11%) traditional public schools did not receive a grade or school improvement rating.”

The public school systemin the United States, however flawed, has been the country’s most important civic institution.

From education historian Diane Ravitch:

“There is a strong rationale for public support of public education. As Robert Hutchins once wrote, they are part of the res publica, the public thing. Like public parks, public libraries, and fire departments, they are part of our communal responsibility. We must strengthen them, make them far better than they are now. To blame them for all the ills of our society, for all the demographic changes of the past generation, for all the burdens imposed by courts and legislatures, is wrong. To destroy them would be a civic crime.”

Yes, it would. But that’s where it seems like we may be headed.

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By Valerie Strauss  | December 14, 2010; 5:00 AM ET
Categories:  Accountability, Charter schools, Vouchers  | Tags:  florida schools, jeb bush, opportunity scholarships, private schools, public education system, public schools, rick scott, school choice movement, school funding formula, universal voucher program, universal vouchers, vouchers  
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Comments

As you can read in this article, education is now insane.

www.truth-out.org/the-loneliness-long-distance-test-scorer65845

With temperatures in the 20's here in Florida, I would gladly take some of this money and buy warm coats for my students.

Would someone please take our state government? PLEASE!

Posted by: veteranteacher1 | December 14, 2010 6:32 AM | Report abuse

Vouchers are but the tip of the iceberg in the Sunshine State.

Julie Young, the founder of the Florida Virtual School, has over 200,000 students taking classes online and growing exponentially year by year.

With out-of-control spending on public education exacerbated by bureaucratic union contracts, virtual learning has established a major competitive foothold to the long monopolized brick and mortar schools we all experienced for our formal education.

While vouchers appear to inject competition into the educational marketplace, virtual learning accomplishes the same while also addressing the escalating costs of public education. Not stopping there, distance learning also individualizes the pace of instruction for each student, which until now is THE missing pedagogical component in the education reform movement in our schools.

Push over traditional public schools, there are a couple of new kids on the block and it doesn't look like they're going away anytime soon. In fact you, the traditional public school, appears to be the one on the chopping block.

Posted by: phoss1 | December 14, 2010 7:16 AM | Report abuse

The purpose of recent rhetoric from the deformers about increasing class size sets the stage for “virtual schools.” Hire non-certified adults on the cheap and stack virtual schools with hundreds of students. K-12 students stay home and play corporate electronic games and fill-in electronic worksheets with matching tests. Schools are closed. Certified educators are fired. Billions are funneled to Wall Street and virtual charter operators. Millions will be available to buy Computers on Wheels (COWS) and tests. It’s called “reform” in Florida.

http://www.chron.com/disp/story.mpl/headline/metro/3742329.html

Posted by: nfsbrrpkk | December 14, 2010 8:27 AM | Report abuse

"The purpose of recent rhetoric from the deformers about increasing class size sets the stage for “virtual schools.” Hire non-certified adults on the cheap and stack virtual schools with hundreds of students. K-12 students stay home and play corporate electronic games and fill-in electronic worksheets with matching tests. Schools are closed. Certified educators are fired."

nfsbrrpkk, you are correct.

I call it the fast food and pizza delivery system business model. It's McEducation. It's a delivery system of instruction without concern for content, only for a feeling of "fullness" that leaves one with indigestion and reaching for the Tums.

Posted by: ilcn | December 14, 2010 8:57 AM | Report abuse

Cyber schools are not the answer.

I am currently coordinating an online program. It's essentially online test prep since they don't want to pay an instructor to design and implement curriculum. They pay me a small hourly rate to monitor student progress and handle any technical problems that arise. Students login and watch a video lecture an then try to muddle through some exercises and quizzes that many repeatedly fail. And many students lack the motivation and time management skills necessary to work independently. Most of the 30 students that I am monitoring have failed to complete a five unit semester course over the past four months.

It's not at all what people familiar with a online college class would expect.

Posted by: stevendphoto | December 14, 2010 9:04 AM | Report abuse

The need for food, housing, energy, and the education of children are constants. Why worry about the volatile land of derivatives and such when there are plenty of little bodies (and the continual flow of taxpayer funds) that will provide reliable and plump portfolios? Shamefull mess.

Posted by: shadwell1 | December 14, 2010 9:55 AM | Report abuse

Cyber classes only feed into those already performing well. The idea a poorly performing student would, on their own, suddenly "get it" is a leap. So, the only thing being solved is removing high performers from the classroom.

Vouchers are a long shot as well. Unless Scott thinks he can force kids into private schools, it will make little difference. Private schools have requirements that are steadfast and do not change simply because of government money. Class size, student progress, student knowledge and ability are but some of the enrollment requirements. Students performing poorly will likely not see past the enrollment desk. Behavior being another requirement means those behaving badly are likely not welcomed either. So that leaves vouchers for another public school.

Florida voted for class size limits. Now to think you can shoehorn kids into classes that in many cases, are already over the limit is an ostrich method of thinking, although this ostrich clearly has its head "somewhere."

Added to an already unsolvable deficit, just how would these ingredients work? As Molly Hatchet sang, "their flirting with disaster."

Posted by: educ8er | December 14, 2010 10:12 AM | Report abuse

There are so many things wrong with this trend, it boggles the mind.

My biggest concern is that the demise of the US public school will finish breaking the backbone of our middle class - but I suppose that's what Bush & company have wanted all along.

Posted by: PLMichaelsArtist-at-Large | December 14, 2010 10:14 AM | Report abuse

phoss1,

Public schools are required by law to provide children with a whole variety of services such as speech, occupational, and/or physical therapy. Some of that bureaucracy is tied up also in the Individualized Education Program(IEPs) that each special-ed student is required to have. Do you know how much time is spent on an IEP and the amount of people involved in each IEP that has to regularly updated? Parents can sue the school system if their child's program is not being followed. How is a virtual school going to begin to provide these services?

Posted by: sammann | December 14, 2010 10:23 AM | Report abuse

Val, the economy of Florida is cascading towards fullscale collapse. That economy was built on the influx of a thousand people a day during boom times. That fueled the building of homew, roads and infrastructure. That phenomenon is in the past now, never to return. Florida officially counts better than 11% of its residents as unemployed, it is the epicenter of the housing market collapse, and that budget deficit you mentioned has just been revised upward to near $4 billion.

In desperation the people of Florida (at least the minority that still participate in the electoral shell game) have turned to a man with a background in massive theft from the federal government, liberal use of the Fifth Amendment, and a lot of money. The money trumped the other things. Newly elected governor Rick Scott has promised 700,000 new jobs but he hasn't got a clue as to how. He will very quickly be exposed as the fraud that he is.

But in the meantime he real threat to public education, the disintegration of the global economy, will continue unabated. Rick Scott will make his feeble attempts to change our destiny and in the process he will try to do serious damage to the public schools, the state's poor and immigrant populations, and the Florida Retirement System. He's a piker compared to Jeb Bush though so we are not afraid.

Posted by: natturner | December 14, 2010 11:12 AM | Report abuse

ilcn: Think you nailed 'McEducation'!
.........unfortunately.

@phoss1: Did you hate your own schooling experiences so much? I realize the typical school situation isn't for everyone.

But, the on-line virtual schooling experience deprives students of a number of really important experiences, most of them having to do with the complexity of human interactions and the full enjoyment of certain subjects. To name but a few:
- Literature, History, Science, etc.
discussion & debates over various
aspects
- Lab experiences
- Band, Orchestra, Choral, Drama and
Dance classes
- Meaningful field trips
- Physical Education (Sports)
- Studio Art

Except for the first one, all of the above
experiences need a physical setup. RE the first, discussions & debates - while these are possible online, it's just not the same as being able to see, hear and react to other students.

In all of the above, thousands of small but significant human interactions take place in physical group settings that just cannot be duplicated virtually, i.e: when a teacher takes a group of students on an important field trip, the group is not just gathering information; they may learn how to negotiate a public transportation system, how to behave properly in public, help a fellow classmate who has difficulty with new situations, etc. etc. etc.

Personally, I see the online experience as one of personal use to reinforce and enhance a human education; not be the main
course.

Posted by: PLMichaelsArtist-at-Large | December 14, 2010 11:19 AM | Report abuse

sammann,

Special education addresses approximately 12% of our public school population. It's not the be all and end all of what goes on in our schools. Nor should it be. The other ninety percent of kids deserve services as well. From my perspective, online schooling can address the individual needs of (ALL) students at least as well as a brick and mortar school. Remember, the primary advantage of institutions like the Florida Virtual School is they take kids through the curriculum at their own pace. No one gets overwhelmed because the classroom teacher is going too fast and no one is bored because the kid already has learned the material. Kids progress at their own pace, a foreign experience in most public schools.

___________________________________________

PLMichaels,

Don't shoot the messenger. Virtual/distance learning is coming to a school district near you - SOON, like it or not. Art, music and phys ed are all taught already in the Florida Virtual School. This medium is just beginning to take off. In five to ten years, virtual schools will be everywhere, in every district and state across the country. It's called welcome to the 21st century. You can balk at the technology all you want but you'll be the loser if you do. There won't be many left standing at the station with you either. Most will be intelligent enough to have boarded the train to the future.

Posted by: phoss1 | December 14, 2010 2:50 PM | Report abuse

The insurance fraud felon is now the education fraud felon. What a surprise! Rick Scott would be in jail if the Bush "Justice" Dept. didn't give him a get-out-of-jail-free card. If you have enough money you can steal and kill and still become governor.

Posted by: mcstowy | December 14, 2010 3:18 PM | Report abuse

Phoss1--yes one could sort of learn the arts through a virtual school, but one cannot participate in performing arts via virtual school. Some of the most valuable musical experiences in school are singing in choral groups and playing in instrumental groups. A lot more than music is learned through these activities. Arts instruction is more than learning ABOUT the arts. It is active participation IN the arts, many of which involve groups. I've used technology to teach some things, but it will never take the place of a real music program where kids actively participate in making and creating music in groups.

Posted by: musiclady | December 14, 2010 3:18 PM | Report abuse

Phoss1 sounds a bit like Arne Duncan - my way or the hiway and reality has nothing to do with my plans.

You don't scare anybody with the prediction of humanless, soulless on-line learning for all children. Try visiting many different elementary classes for five complete days - reality might get through to you.

Pushing on-line learning the way you do is merely being a shill for the new education-for-profit industry.

Posted by: 1bnthrdntht | December 14, 2010 3:55 PM | Report abuse

phoss1,

So you can deliver physical and occupational therapy through a computer. Where do these children "attend" their virtual schools? Only at home? So I guess, home visits from all these therapists will have to be done. How is that cost-effective. You are living in a dream world.

What about the large percentage of people without computers and internet access? I live in Fairfax Co. and I know a significant portion of the student population does not have access to computers at home.

Fairfax County already provides on-line courses for high schoolers. However, they do this so that kids can get access to classes not offered at their base school or because of scheduling conflicts so no child only has online classes. I believe that they also offer these online classes to homeschoolers as well. That to me, seems like a good use for virtual classes.

A lot of kids in school no longer have certain social skills because of the overuse of technology. Where are you going to develop empathy if you never have to be in the same room or building with someone with physical limitations? It astounds me that you don't think human interaction is important at all.

Posted by: sammann | December 14, 2010 4:10 PM | Report abuse

1bnthrdntht,

Retired Massachusetts public school elementary classroom teacher (34 years). Been there, done that. I'm simply a realist and wished the technology had been more advanced so I could have used it in my classroom. And I'm no one's shill, thank you, just a realist.

___________________________________________

sammann,

Not a dream world at all here. I never said human interaction and socialization were not important. Home schoolers get this via scouts, little league, soccer, church, family, etc. Your special ed perspective is mildly overbearing. Again, there's more that goes on in a school than special education, a great deal more. Folks without computers would be really challenged to take an online course but I suppose they could attempt it through the public library.

___________________________________________

musiclady,

Ah, but another in the long line of skeptics to the realities of the future. As I stated above, you better get on board because the train is pulling out of the station soon and they won't be waiting for you or any of the other recalcitrants.

___________________________________________

As a brief sidebar: The feeble excuses mounted by the threatened teachers above are but another example of why the educational establishment (YOU) have not been invited to the ed reform dialogue in this country over the past two, plus, decades. Whine, whine, whine. Do any of you serve cheese with your whine? Get with the program here folks. These are legitimate reforms and they're NOT going away because they threaten your existence or because you can't fathom how they'll work. They're already up and running.

As a suggestion, instead of fighting this kicking and screaming every step of the way, ask yourself how could something like this work for you and your students? How can you get informed on this new technology to the point where it would benefit my craft, improve my practice, and (again) help my kids.

Posted by: phoss1 | December 14, 2010 5:06 PM | Report abuse

Sorry,

Last line of sidebar should have read, "...benefit your craft, improve your practice, and (again) help your kids.

My apologies.

Posted by: phoss1 | December 14, 2010 5:10 PM | Report abuse

Phoss, you have the rhetoric down pat of the new corporate education shills, nice job. You have read well and properly used phrasing that reflects the majority of the comments left by those endorsing the corporate take over of public education. I know, companies like BP, Enron, Exxon, and all those others on Wall Street are a fine example of what we can expect in our schools. You represent them well, you should be commended. The bonus money should shore up your portfolio nicely.

Posted by: hurtpillow | December 14, 2010 5:38 PM | Report abuse

phoss1,

What do you do for a living?

Posted by: veteranteacher1 | December 14, 2010 5:56 PM | Report abuse

As I stated above to 1bnthrdntht; retired Massachusetts elementary classroom teacher of 34 years. And I have no portfolio, hurtpillow, just a meager teacher pension.

Again guys, instead of fighting all these reforms, celebrate them, join in the changes that should improve your craft.

Too many teachers are overly threatened by the change/reform movement. Develop some reforms of your own.

Posted by: phoss1 | December 14, 2010 6:20 PM | Report abuse

phoss1 or psuedo-messenger,

Look at the way you reported the message, messenger. It looks like you delight in the message that you are retelling. You are certainly not impartial in your summation of facts. I'd probably shoot your butt, too.

Here's a realist message that you can send back to whomever you were delivering that clearly partisan message from: As of right now, Odyssey or any other online learning software/virtual system does not work with non-intentional learners, poor inner-city learners, poor readers, and limited English learners. It probably never will. Check out the many studies of those who succeed in these programs and those who don't. There is a strong trend. And I haven't even mentioned the other problems that pop up with online coursework. Because of this, as of right now, it is a carnal pipe dream for those teachers who don't want to "do" their jobs and their techie buddies who intend to get rich from it.

And by the way, a true realist would know the good and the bad of these programs or their like. An idealist might hope that they might work or get better. But only an idiot would confuse the two.

It looks like you never even boarded your train to begin with. The train must have just zoomed on by that tiny thing you call a station without you ever really noticing.

Posted by: DHume1 | December 14, 2010 6:41 PM | Report abuse

DHume wants to shoot my butt? Here I thought we were going to celebrate these reforms.

The message is mine and mine alone, trust me. And BTW, I never said there could not be problems and/or disadvantages to online learning. It's still in its infancy, a neophyte and as such should be given time to correct itself. What you have to remember is, IT'S NOT GOING AWAY simply because it's threatening to the status quo.

Posted by: phoss1 | December 14, 2010 7:04 PM | Report abuse

It's difficult to believe that phoss1 taught
for 34 years, particularly in charge of innocent elementary school children.

Posted by: PLMichaelsArtist-at-Large | December 14, 2010 7:36 PM | Report abuse

Phoss1,
When a student takes an online class, how does the instructor know who is doing the work and tests?

Posted by: veteranteacher1 | December 14, 2010 7:46 PM | Report abuse

phoss1,

It was quite obvious to me that you were the sender of the message. I did call you a psuedo-messenger after all. I was just playing with the cliched expression that you wrote earlier: "Don't shoot the messenger." However, my mockery seems to have missed its mark on many fronts. I'll use smaller words and refrain from the use of conceits when dealing with you in the future.


Posted by: DHume1 | December 14, 2010 8:31 PM | Report abuse

I’m curious about why the deformers don’t promote their deforms for their own offspring.

First, let’s move forward with multi-generational experiments on the deformers’ children.

In 2011-12, establish mandatory K-12 virtual schools for the children and grandchildren of Gates, Duncan, Obama, Broad, Bloomberg, Klein, Feinberg, Murdoch, Scott, Christie, Rhee, Bush family, MSNBC executives, testing conglomerate CEOs, Wall Street profiteers, and for-profit virtual charter operators. Let their children and grandchildren stay home to complete corporate games and electronic worksheets with matching tests. Hire TFA corps on the cheap or others without certification to monitor logins and logouts. Increase virtual class size to the maximum and close private and parochial schools.

If the K-12 virtual charter schools and classrooms have value, the deformers will not hesitate to offer their offspring for the virtual education experiments.

Why do the for-profit schemes only target the middle-class, the working poor, and those in poverty?

Posted by: nfsbrrpkk | December 14, 2010 8:42 PM | Report abuse

Dhume1/Big Dave has shown himself to be a bit of a scold and hyper critic of anyone who approaches his tattered little patch of turf. While we celebrate each and every nugget he offers, even the lame ones, he might lower the pitch of the intemperate braying he broadcasts in the direction of those with a different point of view.

Posted by: axolotl | December 14, 2010 8:59 PM | Report abuse

RE: "When a student takes an online class, how does the instructor know who is doing the work and tests?"

I am "coordinating" several online classes now. Notice I said coordinating, not teaching. I have a "dashboard" that can tell me at a glance what the student's current grade is, the % of the course they have completed, and the grade they would get if they completed nothing else. Guess what my dashboard shows right now? Out of 30+ students only one or two will complete their semester courses on target after 4+ months of "work." The problem is that the students don't put in the time. Another problem is the online program doesn't really teach them. It assumes they're on grade level. The joke is on the programmers.

A true online class would be great. One taught by a teacher that required interaction between students and instructors. Many of us have taken these classes at the university. However, the online programs being pushed to K-12 are merely online test prep designed to minimize expenditures.

Posted by: stevendphoto | December 14, 2010 9:15 PM | Report abuse

Again, take an overview of the comments above from the educators. Is it really any wonder the educational establishment has not been invited to join in the dialogue of education reform? Most are so insecure, set in their ways, and threatened by anything that's counter to the status quo they can't think straight.

This is a very sad state of affairs for our public schools and the students that must attend them. How will we ever be able to reform our schools with a mindset like this?

Posted by: phoss1 | December 15, 2010 7:04 AM | Report abuse

The deformers hire on the cheap, provide “education” on the cheap, and pocket millions. Deformers don’t mention how the students are used for financial gain or how billions in state and federal funds are funneled to the education industry, insiders, and charter operators.

Read about for-profit charter fraud and virtual school schemes at these links:

http://motherjones.com/politics/2010/12/rick-scott-florida-education-jeb-bush

http://charterschoolscandals.blogspot.com/

Posted by: nfsbrrpkk | December 15, 2010 8:15 AM | Report abuse

phoss1:

I was hoping you would respond directly to my comments about the educational shortcomings of the online courses I am coordinating. Do you really think that the future of schooling should look like what I have described?

Posted by: stevendphoto | December 15, 2010 8:45 AM | Report abuse

steven,

Have you checked out how the Florida Virtual School operates?

As far as online courses go, I'd have to believe in the old adage; you can lead a horse to water but...

How to "make" students participate could seemingly be addressed via parental contact. Who is paying for the course? If the parent is paying then it seems they would be obligated to make sure the kid is keeping up with their requirements, wouldn't it?

My experience has always been that educating a child is a partnership between the student, the teacher, and the parent. ALL stakeholders need to be actively involved. If the parent isn't involved, especially monitoring the exchanges with an online course, there's probably not much chance of any learning taking place.

Posted by: phoss1 | December 15, 2010 9:45 AM | Report abuse

phoss1: you say, "Is it really any wonder the educational establishment has not been invited to join in the dialogue of education reform? Most are so insecure, set in their ways, and threatened by anything that's counter to the status quo they can't think straight."

And you are so right. Many of the core commenters and minor pundits on this page, even the well informed ones, not just the bloviating ones, fit your description. And even if they can see the causal factors correctly, they want years and years of study before doing something. That allows them to drink and trough of study largesse and not deal with the real pain of change.

Posted by: axolotl | December 15, 2010 12:01 PM | Report abuse

phoss1, I will be transparent up front as to my current position in the ed discussion. I am a grad student becoming certified to teach (middle school math) and have just a few classes left. I have a couple other degrees in other subjects (unrelated to each other--an MS in computer science, for one, so I am not exactly a technophobe). I have spent the last 10 years reading about ed issues (mostly to do with math education) amongst other things, ever since I got into an argument with the principal of my older child's school but didn't have enough info to make my case. I also pulled my younger child out of school a few years ago and homeschooled for one year (She became a reader that year, for one thing, and it is what I attribute her success to now, a few years later.)

You like the idea of virtual schooling because of the way it allows students to move at their own pace so they don't suffer by being pushed forward before they are ready or by being backpedaled because they are ahead. (Is that right?) I agree this does have its appeal, especially looking at it from the outside. You say the brick/mortar school is going; are you also saying "Good ridance?" Do you think the potential benefit from the virtual model (students working at their own pace--theoretically) outweighs any other consideration (And some others made an excellent case for physical interaction: e.g. music ensembles, science labs, etc.)

Have you ever taken a class online? I have. College level, though, so I imagine it's a bit different than the stuff with the entertainment bells and whistles they shovel to the K-12 set. I don't love the online format. And if I had to learn something that was difficult to understand, I would be lost.

Here's why. I have discovered that I am an interpersonal learner. I took a couple of upper-division math classes at one of our state university campuses a few semesters ago. In one of the classes, I went to the instructor's office hours regularly so I could discuss the material with him, and so I got an A. The next semester, I wasn't available during the hour the professor had office hours. I went to the class, asked questions, did the homework, but I was getting C's. When I finally found other students in the class I could teach the material to, I started making A's and got an A in the class. I have to *discuss* the material if it is difficult, which is not accomplished by sitting at a keyboard. That's my learning style. I think the virtual school model would be leaving me behind for material I have to stretch to understand. Fortunately, I generally have other options. (And most of the stuff I have been doing lately is not conceptually difficult; it requires other skills.) Rich people and their children will always have other options, too.

I think technology has a lot of promise to add to the physical school model, not to repace it. Don't you think students can get differentiated instruction in a brick/mmortar setting?

Posted by: MathEdReseacher | December 15, 2010 1:26 PM | Report abuse

Mandate all deformers in Florida, Washington DC, New York and beyond to disclose kickbacks and profits related to financial conflicts of interest with testing conglomerates, the in-the-box mass-produced curriculum industry, lobbyists, charter schools, virtual schools, technology vendors, TFA, and family members.

Why don’t the deformers take the lead and set the example by enrolling their own children and grandchildren in their for-profit K-12 charter schemes and K-12 virtual education scams immediately?

Let the deformers feel the real pain of change.

Posted by: nfsbrrpkk | December 15, 2010 1:28 PM | Report abuse

MathEd,

I don't believe I said traditional schools are going the way of the horse and buggy; just that online courses are an up and coming player in the market. And I'm definitely not saying good riddance to public schools. Public education is too important to discard, but it certainly could use some healthy and appropriate amending.

Public education has been the cornerstone of our society since the time of Benjamin Franklin, Thomas Jefferson, Horace Mann, etc. I don't want it to go away for a number of reasons, not least of which is I still believe it has the potential to be the great equalizer in our society. Public education can enable an individual to pull themselves up by their bootstraps and even be the next occupant of the White House (our current resident is a case in point) if they want. Not everyone's going to get there but through education, they sure can dream.

How does a great deal of the federal legislation read, "supplement, not supplant?" That's what I see as the potential for virtual/distance learning. It should add to a teacher's repertoire what they can offer in their classroom. By no means should it replace the teacher.

Can students get differentiated instruction in their classroom while in a brick and mortar setting? Absolutely. Missing from the conversation though is the ability of online technology to help the teacher do a much better job of customizing the pace of instruction for each student.

My first year in the classroom I taught the "traditional" whole group method. I was so dissatisfied with what it did to kids and didn't do for them I developed a model where I individualized the pace of instruction for each of my students in the four major disciplines (elem level). It was challenging to establish but once it was up and running it worked great.

For the rest of my career I hounded the tech coordinator in our district (a good friend) for software that could help me with this model. It barely started to materialize by the time I retired (2006). It would have made my class much more efficient and streamlined the process for both me and my students.

For your learning "style" online learning, done correctly, leaves more than ample opportunity for communicating with the instructor. Email, cell phones, etc., are all at your disposal.

Research some of the requirements for teaching at a school such as the Florida Virtual School. They're steeped in the necessity of constant/daily exchanges between the instructor and the students.

Posted by: phoss1 | December 15, 2010 3:00 PM | Report abuse

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