Skip to main content

Many of the so-called "reformers" and many of their allies among Republican governors and legislators seem to - after all, that is why they have been pushing this particular approach for a number years.

If you have any interest in this topic, I am going to strongly urge you to read a just-released policy brief from the National Education Policy Center.  Titled Understanding and Improving Full-Time Virtual Schools, and has a subtitle which reads "A Study of Student Characteristics, School Finance, and School Performance in Schools Operated by K12 Inc.: The authors are Gary Miron, a professor at Western Michigan University, and Jessica L. Urschel, a doctoral student at the University.  K12 Inc. is the nation's largest operator of online charter schools, and is controversial enough that New Jersey, whose governor Chris Christie has been actively involved in undermining public education in that state, just postponed acting on a request from K12 to open a charter in that state.

I have not had time to thoroughly examine the report, as I was offline for most of yesterday.  It is formally being present today at the annual meeting of the American Association of School Administrators, where Dr. Miron will debate Dr. Susan Patrick, president and CEO of the International Association for K–12 Online Learning.

Below the fold I am going to offer a few of the key points of the study, assisted in part by a press release from Kevin Welnar who is the Director of NEPC and whom some here heard when he was on an education panel at NN11 in Minneapolis.

According to Miron, K12 Inc. schools generally operate on less public revenue, but they have considerable cost savings. They devote minimal or no resources to facilities, operations, and transportation. These schools also have more students per teacher and pay less for teacher salaries and benefits than brick-and-mortar schools.

Thus the lower overhead costs allow an opportunity for a substantial profit margin.  This is important, because K12 is a for-profit entity, founded by William Bennett, who was Secretary of Education under Ronald Reagan, and Michael Milken, who went to prison for his financial shenanigans at Drexel Burnham but somehow managed to keep a substantial portion of his ill-gotten gains.

Turning to the report itself, some key information from the Executive Summary:

Analysis of K12 Student Characteristics
  • K12 Inc. virtual schools enroll approximately the same percentages of black students but substantially more white students and fewer Hispanic students relative to public schools in the states in which the company operates. Because K12 schools generally enroll students without regard to school district boundaries, such same-state comparisons are the most useful.
  • On average, 39.9% of K12 students qualify for free or reduced-price lunch, compared with 47.2% for the same-state comparison group.
  • K12 virtual schools enroll a slightly smaller proportion of students with disabilities than schools in their states and in the nation as a whole (9.4% for K12 schools, 11.5% for same-state comparisons, and 13.1% in the nation).
  • Students classified as English language learners are significantly under-represented in K12 schools; on average the K12 schools enroll 0.3% ELL students compared with 13.8% in the same-state comparison group and 9.6% in the nation.
  • Most K12 schools serve students from grades Kindergarten to 12; however, K12’s enrollment is greatest in the middle school grades. Enrollment decreases sharply for the high school grades.
The Executive Summary also provides a great deal of information about the operational costs and expenditure of K12 and the performance of its students, which usually falls behind that of the parallel public schools from which it draws.  While it is true that K12 receives less per student than the parallel public school, this is mor than offset by the much higher student-teacher ration:  in this New York Times piece from last year provides some information from some other parallel on-line charter organizations, with teacher-student ratios of 35-1 and up, depending upon the amount of money received per students from public funding.  High school teachers at some of these "schools" handled as many as 250 students -  here I note that I taught 6 rather than the usual 5 sections at a high school, and in my worst year I had only 192 students.  The Times article, which used some information from this report before it was released, is also well worth reading.  I quote the following from there:
Some teachers at K12 schools said they felt pressured to pass students who did little work. Teachers have also questioned why some students who did no class work were allowed to remain on school rosters, potentially allowing the company to continue receiving public money for them. State auditors found that the K12-run Colorado Virtual Academy counted about 120 students for state reimbursement whose enrollment could not be verified or who did not meet Colorado residency requirements. Some had never logged in.

“What we’re talking about here is the financialization of public education,” said Alex Molnar, a research professor at the University of Colorado Boulder School of Education who is affiliated with the education policy center. “These folks are fundamentally trying to do to public education what the banks did with home mortgages.”

Read that last sentence again, carefully.

What is happening with this move to for-profit online charters will be as destructive of public education and real learning as what happened to our economy as a result of the securitization and related activities of the mortgage market that came close to collapse the economy of much of the developed world, and whose impact is still having horrendous effects around the world on the ability of governments from national to local levels to continue to provide the public services that undergirded the very wealth of those economies.

The report can be freely downloaded.  I was asked to help draw attention to it.

The material in the brief has been through a rigorous peer-review process.   It relies on publicly available information, including some from the Federal government and other studies that have been done on this material.

Let me end with the three paragraphs of the conclusion, after which I will offer a few remarks of my own.

With the rapid expansion of full-time virtual schools, and with the outsized political involvement of key companies that aim to extend market share, the world of online learning is becoming increasingly controversial. Aside from proclamations of politicians and advocates, claims that full-time virtual school are working are not substantiated by empirical evidence. This report reviewed an array of publicly available performance indicators for schools operated by K12 Inc. and all of these indicators indicate weak performance.

While we share the excitement of new technologies and the potential these have to improve communication, teacher effectiveness, and learning, we remain convinced that policymakers should embrace these schools only after piloting and thoroughly vetting this new model for schooling.

Although this report is modest in scope, we hope that the findings will encourage policymakers to act more cautiously in the political arena, where companies such as K12 Inc. apparently exert considerable influence. Also, we hope this study will cause researchers, educators, and others to look more closely at full-time virtual schools. To truly understand productivity, one needs sound evidence of outcomes and an accurate understanding of inputs such as characteristics of students entering the school, and public monies received and spent by the school.83 Though this report focuses only on a single provider of virtual schools, it is our hope that its description of evidence from diverse public sources on inputs and outcomes has helped to further our understanding of the potential and limits of full-time virtual schools. We also hope this report can inform policies that will improve this new model of schooling and help to ensure that full-time virtual schools better serve students and the public school system as a whole.

I have no trouble with exploring alternative ways of doing education.  I believe these can be achieved without the profit motive that seems to be behind so much of what is unfortunately given the label of "reform."  It is change - we are moving from seeing education as a public good that should be provided to benefit society as a whole, keeping the relationship between costs and benefits independent of a profit motive, to a model in which the main drivers are ideology (including the suppose magic of the free market system) and greed.  Increasingly the various aspects of "reform" involve spending money on things not always essential to real learning but which carry potential windfall profits to outside groups whose interest is primarily financial -  these include testing companies, hardware and software manufactures, curriculum and training providers, consultants, as well as those whose involvement comes from an interest in making money and is often not accompanied by any real experience in public school educational settings.  Because certain students cost more to teach -  those with disabilities, those from impoverished backgrounds, those still learning English - operators of for-profit schools often do their best not to accept such students into their schools.  There is little oversight of many of the institutions, and even some that are supposedly non-profit pay ridiculous high salaries to their administrators and operators when one considers the numbers of students they serve and compare those salaries to administrators in public school systems.  Thus even though officially non-profit those involved with many charters are effectively transferring public funds to their own pockets without incurring the operational costs imposed upon public schools.

No other high performing nation in the world is taking this approach.  And don't kid yourself -  when we adjust for degree of poverty American public schools perform as well as those in any advanced nation, but we rank 34th (out of 35) in degree of poverty among nations participating in international comparisons such as PISA.

This examination of the nation's largest on-line charter operator is important because it demonstrates the lack of evidence that the move to online charters improves the educational outcomes of the students who participate in them, even by the very flawed approach of relying upon scores on standardized tests.

If you have any interest in education, I urge you to examine this report.

If you are in a state considering expansion of online charters, try to get those involved in making the decisions, including state legislatures, and those who will be affected, including parent groups, and those whose responsibility it is to inform and help interpret for the rest of us (the media which far too often does a horrible job), to read and understand this report.

Thanks for reading this post.

Originally posted to teacherken on Wed Jul 18, 2012 at 04:14 AM PDT.

Also republished by In Support of Labor and Unions and Education Alternatives.

Your Email has been sent.
You must add at least one tag to this diary before publishing it.

Add keywords that describe this diary. Separate multiple keywords with commas.
Tagging tips - Search For Tags - Browse For Tags


More Tagging tips:

A tag is a way to search for this diary. If someone is searching for "Barack Obama," is this a diary they'd be trying to find?

Use a person's full name, without any title. Senator Obama may become President Obama, and Michelle Obama might run for office.

If your diary covers an election or elected official, use election tags, which are generally the state abbreviation followed by the office. CA-01 is the first district House seat. CA-Sen covers both senate races. NY-GOV covers the New York governor's race.

Tags do not compound: that is, "education reform" is a completely different tag from "education". A tag like "reform" alone is probably not meaningful.

Consider if one or more of these tags fits your diary: Civil Rights, Community, Congress, Culture, Economy, Education, Elections, Energy, Environment, Health Care, International, Labor, Law, Media, Meta, National Security, Science, Transportation, or White House. If your diary is specific to a state, consider adding the state (California, Texas, etc). Keep in mind, though, that there are many wonderful and important diaries that don't fit in any of these tags. Don't worry if yours doesn't.

You can add a private note to this diary when hotlisting it:
Are you sure you want to remove this diary from your hotlist?
Are you sure you want to remove your recommendation? You can only recommend a diary once, so you will not be able to re-recommend it afterwards.
Rescue this diary, and add a note:
Are you sure you want to remove this diary from Rescue?
Choose where to republish this diary. The diary will be added to the queue for that group. Publish it from the queue to make it appear.

You must be a member of a group to use this feature.

Add a quick update to your diary without changing the diary itself:
Are you sure you want to remove this diary?
(The diary will be removed from the site and returned to your drafts for further editing.)
(The diary will be removed.)
Are you sure you want to save these changes to the published diary?

Comment Preferences

  •  Online education.... (37+ / 0-)

    My own take - people are confusing the benefits of having online access to educational materials (reference information and so on) with education. The access part I get and support.  Thinking you can obtain a complete education staring at a screen in isolation misses how people learn.

    •  Absolutely, and I couldn't agree more (12+ / 0-)

      Education is not the simple banking model of education where information is presented and somehow assimilated. It requires interaction.

      I feel like we ought to have learned a bit more with the old baby monkeys and pom pom experiments once upon a time.

      I've taught online courses. I'm fiercely opposed to them, however. Other than the odd duck who learns better solo, most people, the vast majority even, don't learn effectively online. I don't mind using some technology alongside a truly intimate, in-person classroom, but the move to online is a very, very corporate move NOT supported by educators but by cost-slashing administrators. It is enough to simply look at who is backing these initiatives to see what they value, and I'm sorry to say, but it's a corporate sort of diploma mill that is at stake here, one which benefits pro-corporate University admin and not educators or students.

      •  I have liked my mixed college classes (4+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        mahakali overdrive, bkamr, FG, fumie

        (assignments done online, lectures in person) but not my straight online course.  The online course was not much more than a glorified Power Point presentation and I had no feedback from the instructor at any point during the course.

        •  My online college courses (5+ / 0-)

          We had live chats and white board discussions with the professor twice a week. The professor also commented via the message board assignments and discussions, as well as frequent emails if needed. We didn't have lectures in person at all, but we had plenty of feed back and interaction with the instructor. So I suppose it really depends on the school and how they do things.

          "Madness! Total and complete madness! This never would've happened if the humans hadn't started fighting one another!" Londo Mollari

          by FloridaSNMOM on Wed Jul 18, 2012 at 07:28:47 AM PDT

          [ Parent ]

          •  When I taught online, we did this daily (0+ / 0-)

            but for me, there was still something very impersonal and lacking. I know that was the experience of some other instructors involved in that particular program.

            The Internet is a strange thing with some interesting Psychological stuff which has been researched, about how the mind may dehumanize others online and how this may also be the source of road rage. I think it may be simpler than this, however, and have to do with something more like the multisensory nature of the classroom. To me, the classroom is a deeply embodied space which is part of the learning process for many -- not all, but many -- and some of that is lost online.

      •  I've had some great online classes... (4+ / 0-)

        I completed a master's degree about 1 1/2 years ago, and I had a wonderful experience with online classes. I also took a couple outside my area of concentration, and they were far less effective. What made some classes wonderful and some dreadful? I think there were many things that made some classes effective, including the following:
        * The classes were part of an program organized in cohorts. The program began with an intense on-campus "boot camp". You saw many of the same people in your classes again and again, and you got to know them.
        * The classes involved one or two all-day on-campus meetings each semester. This was another way you got to know people, including professors.
        * The classes were limited in size just like any other class.
        * Classes were held live each week, and everyone was expected to attend and to participate.
        * The classes did not involve just staring at a screen. The technology allowed continual feedback from students. Everyone was required to be connected via chat and a microphone, and you were expected to interact. In most classes, participation was part of your grade.
        * During class, we often broke off into small groups for interactive learning activities.
        * In between classes, students were usually required to post to forums. Posts had to be thoughtful and scholarly--not just conversational.
        * We had lots of group projects that involved collaboration through wikis, email, chat, etc.
        * The professors were really good at teaching online and had the support they needed to do their job well.

        While I have only positive things to say about the graduate program I participated in, I don't think it would work for K-12 or even undergraduate college programs. I think those students are learning more than just the academics in school. They are also developing physically, socially and emotionally. Good schools support students' overall development.

        While an online program would not work for K-12, I do think that an occasional online class might be beneficial for some students. For example, if a rural school district does not have a teacher qualified to teach an advanced topic, it might be helpful to give some students access to an online class. However, I can't imagine how the model advanced by the current players comes anywhere close to being effective, even in that limited scenario.

        IMHO, the bottom line is that ANY educational system that has making a profit as its goal, whether it uses online, traditional or any other method of delivery, is disastrous for students and our country.

        •  That meeting in person is very helpful (0+ / 0-)

          I teach many of my classes completely outside, and do things a bit untraditionally in general. This is at the college level. I require online participation in between classes, forum postings in particular. I do think that "live" classes also help. I'm still interested in how people learn when sitting in the sun sharing muffins. Call me old-fashioned, but I feel like it adds something. Then again, I'm the sort of teacher who my students often hug or cry on my shoulder, and I find that in person, I can explain things far better and more quickly. Tone means so much. Facial expressions. Demeanor.

          I'm in no way challenging your post or your experience. It's very interesting for me since I know some at my University would like to move it online. I am personally deeply committed to a more small-class sizes, one-on-one type thing. I'm glad it worked well for you! And also that you recognize the difficulty with profit-based systems pushing for these: these are very much why we have online learning at all at my institution! That alone speaks so loudly to me.

      •  Access to online resources vs online course (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        mahakali overdrive

        If you are forced by an online school or course (in which your grade depends on full participation and following the strict requirements) then I'm not for it.  However, if a student, for example, is in a brick-and-mortar school and by choice goes to the many free online resources such as the Kahn Academy to supplement their learning, then it's cool.  Students love learning on their own terms and hate to be shoved into a box. Many students have overcome poor teaching by going to online resources to understand the content.  How many of you have gone to You Tube to learn how to do something?

        Supplement, not supplant!

    •  It's also seen as a pro-revenue model (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Cassiodorus, k8dd8d

      Rutgers University (my alma mater) has been pushing online courses as a sort of new-wave "adult education" model, and they've even admitted that part of the reason they offer online courses is to generate revenue for the university.

      Charge students almost the same per credit as a brick and mortar class, pay some adjunct professor peanuts to teach the online course, and boom, they generate profits offering them.

      I have no clue if there are even any acceptance requirements, or if it's really just the same thing as those for-profit "colleges" (like U. of Phoenix, and a slew of others being advertised now), just with a better "brand name" in Rutgers.  For all I know, anyone can sign up and take the courses.

      It's a shame, but colleges are being run like businesses now, predominantly because state support has dropped 100-150% in the last 15 years.

      "Give me a lever long enough... and I shall move the world." - Archimedes

      by mconvente on Wed Jul 18, 2012 at 09:14:20 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  A misunderstanding (0+ / 0-)

      I'm not sure everyone understands how K12 works.   There are live interactive sessions, book assignments, and tutoring by parents, and email interaction with teachers, and other interactions.   It's not just staring at a screen.

      It would be nice to be in the room with the teacher.  We'd do it if that was an option.   But -- the demands of public school didn't work, and both we and the school agreed the homebound program didn't work.

      •  Let me expand... (0+ / 0-)

        I agree, it doesn't have to be just staring at a screen, but it very well can be.  

        The outcome, as always, depends strongly on the student.  My point is that indirect cues of the state of the student are difficult to read remotely.  Realtime, live interaction helps in recasting ones approach while teaching.  You can do this on-the-fly as needed.  Sure, sometimes the situation renders this not possible.  As with any electronic/digital approach, it's one of many possible tools to use and you need to employ the best tool for the problem at hand.

        My own experience is that it is all too easy to allow focus to drift in remote electronic experiences.

  •  It strikes me that if we have dueling K-12 systems (19+ / 0-)

    the battle is lost already.  Of course there's no evidence that this works, just as there's no evidence that brick-and-mortar charter schools do better than "regular" schools in achieving positive student outcomes. Does this matter to anyone involved in education "reform"? No, it doesn't.

    -7.75, -8.10; All it takes is security in your own civil rights to make you complacent.

    by Dave in Northridge on Wed Jul 18, 2012 at 04:27:06 AM PDT

    •  Could this be a form of Darwinian Self-Selection?? (0+ / 0-)

      It's unfortunate that the children suffer fron the parents bad decisions but isn't that the way it is anyway?  While some parents may truly believe that their children will receive a better education at an on-line charter school, I fear that there may be many with more sinister agenda driving their decision.

      Some children will excell in the on-line environment just as some excell in regular public schools.  Some others will not show their potential until later in life.  For most in these on-line schools, it will reduce their opportunities later in life and they will have a meaner existance that otherwise.  Of course, that's what many of the rightwing, in particular the 1%, seem to want for the rest of us.

      I screwed up with a careless uprate so I'm a "No Rate" pariah. When I give a comment "+1 n/t", please consider that a recommend. (That's my workaround to participate here). Roar louder!

      by Josiah Bartlett on Wed Jul 18, 2012 at 07:19:40 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  I'm not sure I agree with your comment (4+ / 0-)

        about parents having sinister agendas.  IME, most parents who are choosing from among the many alternative forms of education are frustrated with the system in some way...their kid isn't challenged, their needs aren't being met, they are being bullied, they have special needs, etc.

        Parents are looking for something, anything, that will help their kids when they have a public school that won't.

        Unfortunately, since charters, both brick & mortar and online, are sometimes for profit entities, they do not achieve what the parents hope that they will.

        Just yesterday, I took my son to his first soccer practice of the year, and met several moms of the local elementary school. We've just moved into this neighborhood and so I was asking about the school (which is where practice was).  They spent almost 45 minutes telling me about the bullying problems at that school, how the principal hasn't intervened, how the culture of the school supports it, and one of them has already taken hers out and transferred to another school.  Next year, he has to feed back into the middle school that that elem feeds, so he'll be again with the kids who are bullying him now.

        She just sighed and said, I'm going to have to find something that works for him because he cannot survive 3 years if those kids go after him again.

        Since I homeschool, she started asking me all kinds of questions about that.  She just felt helpless for what to do for her kid.

        If you took the greed out of Wall Street all you’d have left is pavement ~Robert Reich

        by k8dd8d on Wed Jul 18, 2012 at 08:34:02 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

      •  Spencerian (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Dave in Northridge

        Please leave Darwin out of it.

        Light is seen through a small hole.

        by houyhnhnm on Wed Jul 18, 2012 at 09:55:24 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

  •  They aren't yet but they will be in the future (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Temmoku, JanL

    though I am not sure if you can call direct knowledge/skill downloads a "school".

    There is no saving throw against stupid.

    by Throw The Bums Out on Wed Jul 18, 2012 at 04:27:31 AM PDT

  •  The answer Ken is no I do not expect (21+ / 0-)

    that online charter schools are the answer. My kid, who is gifted, did the eighth grade at home using an online school run by a Quaker group. The program was excellent and she learned a lot. But it was a non profit. It cost $150.00/month and was money well spent. Especially in art history.

    My point is that my kids experience was not a reflection of charter online schools. Because of the lack of profit motive. If you introduce a profit motive different pressures and different standards for teachers are introduced. And that means that the primary mission of these charter schools is to turn a profit. The real education of the students becomes secondary to turning a profit.

    Teachers need a strong union to protect them from outside pressure so that they are free to teach and not under political or budget pressure. A for profit education system is for profit first and foremost. And the modern example of corporate responsibility indicated that corporate executives have no sense of public responsibility.

    Thank you Ken for continuing to work on this during your well deserved retirement.

    •  I can't imagine how an 8th grader (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      joycemocha, rosarugosa, fumie

      could do this alone.

      was s/he just extremely self-disciplined?
      did s/he have lots of adult supervision?
      was it a year  out of school for travel or disability?

      i'd love to hear more.

      I know as an eighth  grader (in a Quaker school ),  I aced what I loved,  failed what didn't come easily,  and devoted my energy to friends,  boys, recreational reading, politics and the Grateful Dead....   and that was with two concerned parents close by at all times.

      I can't believe this formula will work for many 13-year olds, but for those who can swing it, I'd say they are truly blessed.

      It's not a fake orgasm; it's a real yawn.

      by sayitaintso on Wed Jul 18, 2012 at 06:04:46 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  Just an observation (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      mahakali overdrive, FG, houyhnhnm

      It seems like a profit motive, in some fashion, seems to corrupt even "non-profit" organizations at times.

    •  She sounds like an exceptional student (3+ / 0-)

      and perhaps an autodidact. I'm that way myself. However, the vast, vast majority of my students aren't. Different needs for social interaction to learn. Just musing there.

      I agree with everything else that you say though, strongly.

    •  On line part time just not full time (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      FloridaSNMOM, k8dd8d

      Online allows students to take classes that are not offered by their own school and also allows those that have a certain ability to take college courses and the like. And if you have the discipline the student does it by herself. So I can understand the use of online courses to enrich the curriculum but not full time.  I think that we definitely need to use technology to the students' advantage  and what is good for the students  should be the number one goal rather than to make a profit or to offer an employment opportunity.

  •  It is bad enough that (8+ / 0-)

    venture capitalists like Mitt Romney swooped in and destroyed companies for profit - what do you think will happen to schools when the unscrupulous decide to drain the money out of them?  It is happening even now while there is still a bit of regulation - but once the switch is made (and it will) there will be nothing to stop it ... nothing.

    •  in many places, the switch is already made (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      fumie, DFWmom

      textbooks, teaching to the test, technology purchases, are already sucking the money.

      our local district was crying about the money being cut from the state, about having to lay off paraeducators, cut specials, etc, but everyone in the district got a brand new computer the same year.

      I'm not against technology, but I'm not always sure the money is well spent in some areas, ya know?

      But that computer company got a fat contract.

      If you took the greed out of Wall Street all you’d have left is pavement ~Robert Reich

      by k8dd8d on Wed Jul 18, 2012 at 08:38:11 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  "Improved educational outcome" (6+ / 0-)

    What would that be?

    Our regular educational institutions educate for inequality.  Some people get the literacy training necessary to become cashiers, others get the college preparatory skills necessary to become investment bankers.  It's an appropriate fit, if we think of society as the elites do, as an engine for capital accumulation.  Oh, sure, there are a few lawyers and advocates here and there who talk about "equal educational opportunity" -- but this is intended as something to mitigate the inequality that circulates throughout the system like a bloodstream.

    Teacherken, this is an excellent diary -- it definitely points the way to the education of the neoliberal future, given our complete failure to establish a barricade in this country against what Naomi Klein called the "shock doctrine."  It's appropriate to an era in which profits have to be sustained while the failure to grow is completely ignored.  

    Online charter schools don't have to be real, which is what your critics point out with vivid clarity.  Thus they no doubt serve as "equal educational opportunity" for the students who can be pushed aside.  That category can be expanded to please, as the middle class shrinks to zero.  Once again, it's time to set up the barricades.

    "It's just a ride." -Bill Hicks

    by Cassiodorus on Wed Jul 18, 2012 at 04:46:07 AM PDT

    •  Socially and fiscally progressive countries (5+ / 0-)

      Most of the world tracks their students into separate educational programs in order to meet the needs of those students at their individual level of ability.  

      Which educational system would you like to see most?  

      The US foolishly attempts to give all students all things.  We do things for our students that are a reflection of our "identity".  We seem to think that we can be all things for all people, all of the time.  

      I would prefer a system of students being tracked at an appropriate age, but which also gives those students the opportunity to change those tracks based on their own personal maturation and development.  

      At first blush, that sort of system seems to be the most unequal, because it appears to pick and choose the "winners and losers." In my opinion, however, it is more equal, because it recognizes the basic idea that not every individual would be best served by a college education, and all of us are better off when we are able give respect to the variety of occupations and undertakings that are not a result of a college education.

      •  I totally agree (3+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Carol in San Antonio, fumie, otto
        In my opinion, however, it is more equal, because it recognizes the basic idea that not every individual would be best served by a college education, and all of us are better off when we are able give respect to the variety of occupations and undertakings that are not a result of a college education.
        That's where I part ways with the left-wing parties in Germany (where I'm from), who describe the current school system there as unfair and would like to move to American-style high schools where "all students learn together."

        And no, German schools don't work the way some of my American colleagues think they do. The government does not swoop in to assign future jobs to ten-year-olds. What does happen is that after elementary school, students receive a recommendation  from their teachers where they should go next. If they want to switch tracks later in their school career, they can, and many do.

        Some students need to be in vocational training because that's where their talents are. Vocational education should be valued and improved instead of being labeled as "for losers."

        After many years of teaching community college as well as core curriculum classes at a state university, I could tell many cautionary tales of what can happen when we try to push everybody into college.

        261.A wealthy man can afford anything except a conscience. -Ferengi Rules of Acquisition

        by MaikeH on Wed Jul 18, 2012 at 08:38:32 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

      •  "Tracking" vs. "college for all" (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:

        Perhaps there's a distinction there between two different types of capitalist education as such -- but "tracking" and "college for all" are still two different types of capitalist education.  Neither version of education is really egalitarian.  They both still involve grades, credits, levels, diplomas, and credentials.  Under the "college for all" version, the students at the top go to well-stocked private colleges, while the public colleges separate out into top-tier, middle-tier, and community colleges.  Most of the people in the community colleges do not transfer out because they discover that 1) if they didn't like remedial work in high school they won't like it in college, and 2) it's too tough working full time while going to college.

        An educational system is properly conceived as preparation for a post-educational reality.  This is true even of what are called "free schools" -- if, for instance, you watch the documentary of that English prep school known as "Summerhill," you'll find that the students make up their own rules and live in freedom on the campus grounds only to discover that if they want to do something interesting once they graduate they'll have to study for college qualifying exams.  But education, as the educator Paulo Freire pointed out, cannot be reduced to training, nor is education merely preparation for a "slot" in a capitalist system that is to be pre-selected for today's students.  Rather we should educate students so that they can create their own futures, and this means allowing them to not choose capitalism for their futures as well.  Doing so is ultimately likely to involve the creation of a significantly different system than the ones upon which we currently rely.

        "It's just a ride." -Bill Hicks

        by Cassiodorus on Wed Jul 18, 2012 at 09:11:30 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  This is the reason I ask (0+ / 0-)

          It seems like the educational system you describe has absolutely no chance of taking place on a scale large enough to replace the current system.  

          Part of the reality of publicly funded education is that the public will need to see results and the public will need to know how to gauge the success of the investment of public dollars.

          •  I don't see why not. (0+ / 0-)

            It would require a change in priorities to be sure...

            "It's just a ride." -Bill Hicks

            by Cassiodorus on Thu Jul 19, 2012 at 09:38:51 AM PDT

            [ Parent ]

            •  A change in priorities of this magnitude (0+ / 0-)

              It's practically impossible.  

              You're talking about changing up the entire economic system of the US, and while that might sound good in certain situations, it's not going to become a policy nationwide.  

              Setting up impossible goals is one of the problems that our educational system has.  

  •  Thanks for getting this out Ken. (12+ / 0-)

    Recently in North Carolina, the Republicans tried to let K-12 operate a statewide school by allowing a rural county, controlled by conservatives, to let K-12 set up shop as an education provider. Fortunately a court action blocked the effort. But legislators have vowed to renew the effort when sessions reopen after the November election. Most people in NC and elsewhere don't understand how bad of an actor K-12 is.

  •  A master plan? (6+ / 0-)

    I guess that there are now a large number of stay-at-home parents who can supervise their children's learning now that the Republicans have tanked the economy and the "job creators" aren't hiring.

    Don't forget that most men with nothing would rather protect the possibility of becoming rich than face the reality of being poor. - John Dickinson ("1776")

    by banjolele on Wed Jul 18, 2012 at 04:48:53 AM PDT

  •  Since the majority of parents both work (11+ / 0-)

    who is watching the elementary school kids who are enrolled?  This is also a safety issue.

  •  They think so, for now. (7+ / 0-)

    At least until we can simply implant a 'chip' directly in children's brains that gives them whatever knowledge is deemed 'proper' for them to have, and can be 'upgraded' every so often.

    Far easier to control what these kids actually learn if they don't have any peers around to supply information that contradicts their agenda while they're being indoctrinated.

    •  What on Earth?! (2+ / 0-)

      What on Earth makes you think that just because a kid is K12, that they don't have peers around?

      Do you lock your kids in the basement?

      I frequently have 4 or 6 kids that don't belong to me, "peers" of my children, underfoot.   Because my oldest daughter is in K12 due to a physical illness, we make a special effort to have her peers around as much as possible, and network with kids from the local school.   My youngest daughter remains in public school.  She is fortunate to have the physical stamina for it.   I have no desire to isolate my children or suppress their knowledge.  Knowledge is power!!    Kids need to know as much as possible in order to make informed choices.  

      Homeschoolers who want to brainwash their kids to that extent generally do not choose K12, because it provides a standard curriculum which is not under the parent's control.    

      K12 organizes field trips every month, and publishes a school directory, so we can visit with other students in our area.  

      •  this guy has popped up before- (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:

        very anti-homeschooling.  Bases his opinion on a sample of one that he has had contact with.  Unfortunate, but not unique to those of us on the left who advocate for homeschooling as an option.

        If you took the greed out of Wall Street all you’d have left is pavement ~Robert Reich

        by k8dd8d on Wed Jul 18, 2012 at 09:27:26 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  Not just a sample of one, eh. (0+ / 0-)

          Lots of the dipsticks high up in RW politics are very into homeschooling.  If you want a better PR for homeschooling, you have to get people like Santorum to quit talking about homeschooling.

          •  yes, there are, but there (1+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:

            are also lots and lots of people across the spectrum choosing other alternatives for their kids.

            The answer for liberals is not to bash those choices, but to support better options for all families...strengthening public schools, charters where appropriate (and not for profit), alternative ed programs, homeschooling.

            It's not always about control and indoctrination and as long as you say that every time the subject comes up, I see you as part of the problem instead of part of the solution.

            I HATE that I have to homeschool my kids.  I hate that the schools I pay taxes for cannot meet their needs, but I am thankful that I have the choice to do something about it.

            In many cases, that's the option parents have.  They are just trying to find something, anything that works for their kids.

            The right wing Christian stereotype of homeschooling does exist, I don't deny that, and Santorum is the poster child for it.  But the growing population of homeschoolers is NOT that stereotype.  It's people dealing with crappy public schools, or special needs or bullying and looking to help their kids.

            Those of us on the left on Daily Kos who homeschool are trying very hard to educate the community to that reality.

            If you took the greed out of Wall Street all you’d have left is pavement ~Robert Reich

            by k8dd8d on Wed Jul 18, 2012 at 11:44:57 AM PDT

            [ Parent ]

  •  Kansas is allowing this for the upcoming year... (4+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Cassiodorus, Temmoku, JanL, fumie

    Seriously, I can't believe that the majority of people in Kansas are so accepting of Sam Brownback trashing the state.  It's maddening.  Glad I only work there, as bad as Missouri it's still better than Kansas.

    "It is horrifying that we have to fight our own government to save the environment." *Ansel Adams* ."Even if you are on the right track, you'll get run over if you just sit there."*Will Rogers*

    by Statusquomustgo on Wed Jul 18, 2012 at 04:53:25 AM PDT

  •  Started looking at K12 just the other day (7+ / 0-)

    And one of their sales reps has already called me based on my registering on the website. They move fast.

    On the webpage about "Our Team," I found listings for administrators and directors but no teachers. I am sure they have some somewhere, and I also don't doubt that they have way more students to teach or supervise or whatever it is they're doing than we in public schools have.

    Thanks for passing this on about the debate. I'll be curious to see how it goes.

    At a time when there has been so much emphasis on evidence-based practices, it's absurd that anything that turns a profit gets a pass. I love technology, but schools work best when there are community relationships that online schools can't quite duplicate.

    Once in a professional learning session for a National Writing Project Summer Institute, we had to make a visual presentation of how we had gotten to where we were that summer. In every one of those maps, there was a teacher who had encouraged and supported the person. It was so powerful. I would hate to think we are seeing the beginning of the end of this type of mentoring by teachers.

  •  Ome way to get rid of teacher unions.... (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    JanL, mahakali overdrive, fumie

    And to control what students are supposed to learn.
    But as far as I can still doesn't guarantee "learning". Will on-line education be rated on the success of their "students" And if attendance cannot be "guaranteed" or even adequately "measured" how will the on-line be evaluated?

    More smoke and mirrors.

    Character is what you are in the dark. Emilio Lizardo in Buckaroo Bonzai

    by Temmoku on Wed Jul 18, 2012 at 05:05:01 AM PDT

    •  Not a problem (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      k8dd8d, FloridaSNMOM

      Attendance doesn't prove anything except as an alibi in a court case.  The idea of using attendance as a measure of academic performance is ludicrous.

      Performance should be evaluated by demonstration of mastery of skills and knowledge.

      By the way, all K12 students in our school are required to participate in standardized testing.

      I was able to read an entire paperback book every day in high school, and still graduate with honors.  I was there, but not "there".   Attendance isn't all it is cracked up to be.

  •  "Virtual" anything is attractive to people (6+ / 0-)

    who prefer not to put their hands on anything.  We say they are "out of touch."  I think that's telling.  Some people's sense of touch is really poor or missing.  As a result, they are "all thumbs" when they try to interact with the real/material world. "Don't touch" and "no contact" is their preference and their ideal.  When they do touch, it's often a mistake.  People tend not to like what they are not good at.

    Isolates are put off by personal interaction.  So, everything virtual seems like a god-send. Willard's "creative destruction" was/is like that.  All virtual via that figment of the imagination that is money; without any practical or real world consequence that he'd notice.

    Some people are convinced that the idea is all that matters because ideas is all they have. Their reality is what exists within their heads.  That tangible nature provides feedback to validate what they see, hear and feel (in their gut, on an emotional level) simply doesn't register.
    I suspect some people are out of touch as some people are color blind or even sightless. We have learned to recognize the deaf and blind at a relatively early age (although the daughter of a friend got to be almost four before it was noticed that she could barely hear and accounted for why she was so loud when she spoke).
    We say that people are "touchy" but mean that they are likely misinterpreting their interaction with other people.  We tell people to "keep in touch" and mean that they should write or call to talk.
    Americans are big on hand-shakes.  A fist-bump or a series of touches is suspect.

    "Virtual" = not real.  Why would we send children to a not-real school?  So the "providers" get paid for the intent (to teach) without having to act or interact?
    On the other hand, pupils interacting with a key-board may be more satisfying to those whose fingers need to be doing something than sitting with hands folded in a class.

    The abacus, the book and the ipad all involve the sense of touch.  So, some children may benefit, but we won't know until long after their school years.

    I suspect, btw, that people who can't think ahead, find it hard to be prepared.  So, instead, they prefer to preempt -- do something before its time.

    Willard's forte = "catch 'n' cage"

    People to Wall Street, "let our money go."

    by hannah on Wed Jul 18, 2012 at 05:07:25 AM PDT

  •  There is no proof... (6+ / 0-)

    ...that online teaching is better than other means of teaching.

  •  Just went to the K12 site.... (7+ / 0-)

    Visited the offerings for my State...

    Glad I'm retired.

    How are on-line teachers "more caring" ????

    Really glad to be retired.

    Downloaded the study to read is only 65 pages.

    Character is what you are in the dark. Emilio Lizardo in Buckaroo Bonzai

    by Temmoku on Wed Jul 18, 2012 at 05:22:44 AM PDT

  •  No, online courses are not "the answer" for K12 (6+ / 0-)

    students any more than books at home have been "the answer" for K12 students.

    This is not to say, however, there is no place for online courses. I took a couple in the early 90s to augment my bachelor's degree before starting a graduate program. At the other end of the spectrum, my 2-3-year-old grandchild learned a lot sitting on my lap playing games with Elmo and Big Bird at the Sesame Street site on That leaves a big territory in between.

    Eliminate tax breaks that stimulate the offshoring of jobs.

    by RJDixon74135 on Wed Jul 18, 2012 at 05:23:22 AM PDT

    •  online courses can be beneficial (8+ / 0-)

      I work at a high school in Florida. Many of our students benefit by supplementing their traditional education via Florida Virtual School. They most often take the mundane legislated courses (we currently have one called "HOPE" that is a combo sex ed/life skills/PE course) so they can use that time period for an elective they choose at school, and it's a win-win.

      However, last year the legislature passed the "Florida Digital Learning Now Act", which mandates that EVERY student including exceptional education students must complete an online course in order to graduate from high school. It's a ridiculous law, given that many students in poverty don't even have internet access at home (the public schools will have to provide it, with no money set aside to do so). This law was written WORD FOR WORD by Jeb Bush and his group that are the muscle behind this trend towards online education. I spoke with a few of the legislators who voted for this bill and asked them some tough questions... of course they had no answers. They did no research, simply listened to Jeb and followed his orders. Other states across the US are working on similar bills, all helped by Jeb. I can't figure out exactly how Jeb profits from this scheme, but if anyone has any insight I'd love to know.

      •  his little brother, the savings and loan crook, (4+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        smiley7, Grandma Susie, MaikeH, fumie

        not the decider, has a school software company and has been workin' hard in this business for years.  i bet that the family has plenty of stock.  bush the second and his war on public education was no accident.

        •  Yes, Friend of the court, and after Katrina when (4+ / 0-)

          Barbara Bush made a "big donation" it was actually in the form of computers she bought from her son's company and gave to local schools.

          IMO, the clunky computers dedicated to the pre-loaded courses the Bush family produces are NOT the logical way to go. It's far too expensive because it is (or was) tied to a bunch of hardware that can't be used for anything else. The acronym for the system was COWs. I don't recall what that stood for, but to me, it was about like bringing a cow into the classroom when all you needed was a cup of milk.

          Eliminate tax breaks that stimulate the offshoring of jobs.

          by RJDixon74135 on Wed Jul 18, 2012 at 07:36:42 AM PDT

          [ Parent ]

      •  I agree, sparkysmom (2+ / 0-)

        I should have said in my post above, that I got a lot out of the couple of classes I took, both in terms of the intended course content and in terms of how an online course can be structured to maximize interaction with both the instructor and other people taking the same class. We here at DK are all well aware that online interaction with other human beings is possible in this venue. I was thinking about in the potential for using social media for second language learning, so that aspect was particularly interesting to me.

        I'll give you another example of computer mediated instruction that may be speak to a generational fact of life we should acknowledge. I have a friend who used to teach art in an alternative school in 6-week modules. Every six weeks, she's take a few days off and I'd fill in   to teach the kids about the surrealist art movement including the art and the artists, but also I'd also sneak in a good bit of political history of the period from the end of WWI to the begining of WWII. I had a great set of slides and a surrealist artist friend who loaned me actual paintings to show and the teacher had a good classroom set of books. Eventually, however the old slide projector bit the dust and I had to improvise. I took the kids to the computer lab with a list of urls and a simple question for them to answer from each site. I was astonished by how attentively they worked through my list which, to me, was really not that different from turning the pages in a book, something they were never so interested in doing. Hmmmm.

        Eliminate tax breaks that stimulate the offshoring of jobs.

        by RJDixon74135 on Wed Jul 18, 2012 at 07:28:10 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

  •  They're The Answer to the Questions Being Asked (4+ / 0-)

    by the power structure.

    We are called to speak for the weak, for the voiceless, for victims of our nation and for those it calls enemy.... --ML King "Beyond Vietnam"

    by Gooserock on Wed Jul 18, 2012 at 05:40:42 AM PDT

  •  Do I think so? No, but (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    absdoggy, ladybug53, JanL

    since this is a new cash cow for corporate raiders, it MUST BE the answer.

    Three be the things I shall never attain: Envy, Content, and sufficient champagne. --Dorothy Parker

    by M Sullivan on Wed Jul 18, 2012 at 05:41:02 AM PDT

  •  Actually... (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    kyril, DFWmom, k8dd8d

    I think accredited open source online schools & especially universities are the answer to sticking it in the eye of for-profit brick and mortars.

    This head movie makes my eyes rain.

    by The Lone Apple on Wed Jul 18, 2012 at 05:42:43 AM PDT

    •  I actually think this may be true (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      The Lone Apple, joycemocha

      to a certain extent. Although I think if you were going to open-source K-12, you'd be better off skipping the state accreditations - just provide the materials for a solid education and let parents handle the legal end of homeschooling. Online schooling obviously requires the presence of a parent anyway.

      Groups of parents could, of course, get together and hire some teachers to use the materials and form nonprofit accredited charters.

      The college-level model would obviously have to be different.

      "Let’s just move on, treat everybody with firmness, fairness, dignity, compassion and respect. Let’s be Marines." - Sgt. Maj Michael Barrett on DADT repeal

      by kyril on Wed Jul 18, 2012 at 06:11:27 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  I agree, but one of the problems right now (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        The Lone Apple, fumie

        is who gets to decide what

        the materials for a solid education

        that's another area that for profit, and for their own motive people are involved.

        A lot of people want to include their faith or politics in that decision of what is taught.

        For an example, do you think right and left could agree what is appropriate biology materials?

        If you took the greed out of Wall Street all you’d have left is pavement ~Robert Reich

        by k8dd8d on Wed Jul 18, 2012 at 08:51:39 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  Most likely not (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:

          which is one of the problems with state standards these days.

          "Let’s just move on, treat everybody with firmness, fairness, dignity, compassion and respect. Let’s be Marines." - Sgt. Maj Michael Barrett on DADT repeal

          by kyril on Wed Jul 18, 2012 at 10:24:33 AM PDT

          [ Parent ]

    •  I'm currently taking one of the open source (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      The Lone Apple

      classes (an intro-level course out of Yale), and although I'm learning and really enjoying it, I find it makes me want to be actually sitting in that classroom, interacting and asking questions.

      It's both invigorating and frustrating at the same time for that reason, but I like that its available.  It will be interesting to see how long it remains completely free.

      If the plutocrats begin the program, we will end it. -- Eugene Debs.

      by livjack on Wed Jul 18, 2012 at 07:10:45 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  Virtual schools have a place. (6+ / 0-)

    I don't think that place is full time, especially for elementary school. For some middle and high school students it may be an answer in some cases. But I do think they have a place for expanded variety in electives. Even when I went to high school, because I went to a small rural school our electives were much more limited than if you went to the big high school in the city. From what I understand, school budgets and testing have restricted those options even further. If electives, which keep kids interested in learning as well as expand knowledge and skill in interests for specific careers, can be provided online when a school district is lacking then I see that as a good thing.
    Now the K12 model may very well be an issue. I have never used that one nor researched that specific school. I also don't know anyone who's used it.

    I did take my general courses in college online, and my roomate got one of her Bachelor's degrees online. For me, the online courses worked great. I could work full time and manage the family around school much easier than I did when I went to the brick and mortar for the core courses. I could also work at my own pace in each course. In some courses like "introduction to computers" that meant about 20 minutes a day because honestly, I've been using computers since early 80's and I knew how to use office. I only took the course because they required it. In Algebra I spent 9-10 hours a day on the work, because I have a math disability. Being in a classroom for Algebra wouldn't have helped me, it would only have made me more anxious and less likely to speak up than I was online.

    "Madness! Total and complete madness! This never would've happened if the humans hadn't started fighting one another!" Londo Mollari

    by FloridaSNMOM on Wed Jul 18, 2012 at 05:57:05 AM PDT

    •  were you able to transfer those gen ed credits (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      FloridaSNMOM, DFWmom

      for full credit to the school you finished your degree?

      I think if that's possible, it offers a great cost savings in these times of obscenely high college tuition.

      If the plutocrats begin the program, we will end it. -- Eugene Debs.

      by livjack on Wed Jul 18, 2012 at 07:14:44 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  I took my gen ed's (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:

        at the college where I finished my degree. OT requires hands on  courses not just online, because there's labs and clinicals, etc and certifications with equipment. So I had to take my core courses in the brick and mortar. In the school I went to, each course lasted a month and was taken in the brick and mortar for 5 hours a day. I can't imagine taking "Intro to computers" for 5 hours a day! Some people who weren't familiar with computers did it that way, and for them it worked. For me, it would have been deathly boring and a huge waste of time.

        "Madness! Total and complete madness! This never would've happened if the humans hadn't started fighting one another!" Londo Mollari

        by FloridaSNMOM on Wed Jul 18, 2012 at 07:24:00 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  I don't understand--your comment says you took (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:

          your gen eds online:

          I did take my general courses in college online, and my roomate got one of her Bachelor's degrees online. For me, the online courses worked great.
          Did you then transfer those online classes for full credit?

          If the plutocrats begin the program, we will end it. -- Eugene Debs.

          by livjack on Wed Jul 18, 2012 at 07:42:59 AM PDT

          [ Parent ]

          •  Yes.. (1+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:

            but I took them online through the same college that I took the core courses. I didn't have to transfer to a different college. In other words, I took my gen ed courses through Kaiser University and my Core courses through Kaiser University (one of two options I had for my degree, the other was through a hospital's program). So transferring them for full credit wasn't an issue. But either way, yes, they would count for full credit even if I'd transferred them to UCF. They are regular college courses, fully accredited.

            "Madness! Total and complete madness! This never would've happened if the humans hadn't started fighting one another!" Londo Mollari

            by FloridaSNMOM on Wed Jul 18, 2012 at 07:47:09 AM PDT

            [ Parent ]

    •  The use of online classes as a supplement, (4+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      FloridaSNMOM, MaikeH, fumie, DFWmom

      not a replacement for brick and mortar schools, is an area deserving of further exploration.  Unfortunately it seems that current ideology doesn't fly that way.

      •  Florida Virtual School (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:

        Is advertised down here that way. You can use it instead of high school, but it's mostly advertised as "in addition to". We're considering it for my son for computer programming next year since it's available to home schoolers as well.

        "Madness! Total and complete madness! This never would've happened if the humans hadn't started fighting one another!" Londo Mollari

        by FloridaSNMOM on Wed Jul 18, 2012 at 07:25:56 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

    •  Agreed. (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      FloridaSNMOM, fumie

      I am doing a master's degree online from a fully accredited public university that has done distance education since the 1980s. Because I live in a rural area and moving and leaving my husband's job and insurance is not feasible for us, it is the most financially viable option for me. The nearest affordable university offering a similar program is 75 miles away. The commute would mean higher costs and would eliminate my ability to substitute teach and supplement our income.

      Online education can be an excellent option for non-traditional students or people seeking to earn a degree in a more flexible way in order to work. The quality of learning depends on several factors. I have completed everything for my degree but my thesis and comps. In my experience the level of interaction is entirely dependent on how the professor chooses to structure his course. Those who create interaction, utilize discussion boards and chats, choose to give feedback and require participation can create a very good environment for learning. In fact, things like discussion boards often create deeper discussion than I have experiences in traditional classrooms as written responses are longer and more nuanced plus everyone participates--you can't doze off in the corner. Discussions are also not constrained by time limits like in a 50 minute class. I have had one professor who did none of that and the courses were rather isolating.

      All of that said, as a former high school teacher, I would not advocate online education as a full time option for K-12. Elementary children especially need interaction and hands on learning. Online learning also requires self-discipline, self-motivation and taking complete responsibility for your own learning. Most kids younger than college age are not developmentally ready to tackle that.

      •  self-discipline (0+ / 0-)

        Sadly, a child who has to cope with a chronic pain condition is likely to develop a higher level of self-discipline at an earlier age.   It is required to get through normal daily activities that become a constant challenge.   Sitting quietly and studying, and concentrating on something powerfully enough to get your mind off the pain, can be a relief.

  •  Another view (6+ / 0-)

    I have a daughter with Fibromyalgia.   It has been a total disaster with respect to trying to get her an education.    We had to fight tooth and nail to get through this last year, the year she was diagnosed, and finally got so bad that she couldn't attend school regularly.  

    If it had hit when she was a bit older, she could have done a reduced schedule at a local college, where she could attend classes later in the day when she is feeling better, take breaks in between, and do more of her work in a place and time of her choosing, and generally have more choices and greater control.

    The fact that we don't have a similar model for high school means that we have to find some solution for the next few years.     Just try it.  Go ahead.   I dare you!!!!!  And, try it on a limited budget.   It's one size fits all, and Texas has one of the most punitive attendance laws in the country, and they DON'T recognize severe chronic illness as an exception.

    The at home tutor did not work.    A revised schedule at school did not work.  We both work, and so there's a question of who is there to drive kids to school or pick them up at noon.   More importantly, kids are still expected to remain on a regular schedule, and it's a violation of state law to exceed the sick day limits, where you are threatened with criminal truancy charges and failure to promote the child.   But, when she has a fibro flare, she can barely move, much less go to school.  She got so bad at one point that she literally could not move.  

    Next year, we are hoping K12 will fill the gap.  

    There is really no effective treatment for Fibro.   We ended up legally required to work with a doctor who was actually making our daughter worse with toxic drugs that made her depressed, made her gain weight, and made her dizzy and sick to her stomach ON TOP OF the horrible pain and other symptoms of her illness.     Don't even get me started on the corrupt FDA, and the fraudulent drug trials in third world countries.

    We ended up in a vice, being squeezed between doctors and school officials.  We were the ones experiencing all the consequences, but having no authority to make any of the decisions.   I felt like I was back in elementary myself, needing a note from the doctor to go to the bathroom, and a committee meeting to decide which toilet paper to use, with everyone saying, "We're only concerned for your child's welfare."    

    As if we were not.  

    To us, K12 is a godsend, giving us more options and more control.   I still have a huge problem, though, with the fact that educational achievement is measured by how many hours you logged in class, rather than allowing children to demonstrate competency in knowledge and skills to progress.    If we are going to have online charters, we should allow kids who can, to progress faster than the state-mandated pace, if they are able.

    My daughter could move faster, and getting out of school faster could get her into a junior college situation that is better for her, with more social interaction, and more class time with a real teacher, in person, and more control over her environment, which is CRITICAL with fibro.

    The one-sizes-fits-all mold of public school, held over from decades past, and regressive attendance policies, are going to be the death of public schools.   If public schools don't adapt and become more flexible, charters are going to win the race.

    And, I'm FOR public school.  I never had any desire to put my child in the charter schools that seem to be on every block here, or the private school that is less than a block from my house.   I never wanted to homeschool.   We are in K12, because traditional public schools failed us, and this was the next best choice, and not a very good one.

    •  You may be better off (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      DFWmom, k8dd8d

      going straight homeschool. Texas has very easy home school laws. You could work assignments around her disability very easily, you could even dual enroll in a community college with online courses until she gets better control of symptoms. There are groups and homeschool charters out there that will help you with curriculum and such and will let her work at her own pace, fast or slow.

      "Madness! Total and complete madness! This never would've happened if the humans hadn't started fighting one another!" Londo Mollari

      by FloridaSNMOM on Wed Jul 18, 2012 at 07:10:20 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  Thanks for the suggestions (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:

        I'm definitely going to try to get some dual credit courses when we get through 8th grade.  

        We honestly need as much support as we can get.   We are well educated, but don't kid ourselves that we can teach every subject in high school.   We'd prefer to leave the teachinig to some kind of professionals.  We'll do it if we have to, but we both work, so we need to supplement with as much professional support and infrastructure as we can get our hands on.  

        I'm fully in favor of leaving the teaching to the professionals, although I do feel parents have our place with some of the tutoring.  

    •  Traditional public schools don't have the funds to (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      DFWmom, k8dd8d

      give each child individualized attention, especially not now.

      •  I recognize that (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:

        I am grateful that my district choose to contribute to a K12 system, so that this service was available when we needed it.   I trust my school district superintendent, and feel that the district's participation is due to the fact that it is a cost effective option for providing educational services for families that would otherwise be disenfranchised, not an evil plot to eliminate public schools.   It would be preferable if the district could run the school itself, but it is a huge undertaking, and something they probably can't realistically accomplish anytime soon.  

        I would prefer for my child to be in public school, and I believe that many people come to K12 after trying other options, and out of a desire to remain affiliated with the public educational system.    

    •  {{DFWmom}}--you make some excellent (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      FloridaSNMOM, DFWmom, k8dd8d

      observations and points about a situation where a student does not fit into a certain category.  I have a child who is potentially a very good student, but struggles with anxiety issues.  I'm still endeavoring to determine what the best learning environment is for her.  She's moving on to college in the fall, and I'm still unsure.

      If the plutocrats begin the program, we will end it. -- Eugene Debs.

      by livjack on Wed Jul 18, 2012 at 07:26:01 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  for-profit schooling has no business receiving (5+ / 0-)

    public funds in a system that doesn't provide free, zero-direct-cost, 100%-equal-access to all schooling options for every child.

    Let alone the fact that their business is business, not education.

    It seems curiosity has killed the cat that had my tongue.

    by Murphoney on Wed Jul 18, 2012 at 06:38:50 AM PDT

  •  It has nothing to do with education (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    mahakali overdrive, k8dd8d, mconvente

    It has everything to do with taking people's money.....just another online scam no different than the ones our spam filters try to remove from our in-boxes.  What is different is who is offering them; government bodies, "reputable" companies, "religious" leaders and so on.  And why are they doing this?  Well, as is perfectly obvious by now, Americans have entered a dark age in which a population has accepted stupidity as a virtue, knowledge as evil and science as fantasy.  A world led by rupert murdoch, rush limbaugh and sarah palin.  Does it surprise us that the loyal followers of these gems would propagate a concept like K12 Inc.?  No, not really.  Does it surprise us that middle class Americans are embracing these concepts?  Not any more.  Would it have surprised us as recently as 4 years ago?  I think it would have.
    Americans don't spend their money on TVs, vacations, new cars, or toys any more so if the 1% are to continue to run us into the ground the best source is to take our educational $$$.  
    See how easy it is?

  •  This is the key thought (7+ / 0-)
    No other high performing nation in the world is taking this approach.  And don't kid yourself -  when we adjust for degree of poverty American public schools perform as well as those in any advanced nation, but we rank 34th (out of 35) in degree of poverty among nations participating in international comparisons such as PISA.
    Republicans will try anything to fix education other than what is needed - fix neighborhoods.

    In theory, there is no difference between theory and practice; but in practice, there always is a difference. - Yogi Berra En théorie, il n'y a aucune différence entre théorie et pratique, mais en pratique, il y a toujours une différence. - Yogi Berra

    by blue aardvark on Wed Jul 18, 2012 at 06:48:23 AM PDT

  •  This is how institutions are torn down (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    smiley7, mconvente, fumie

    In Indiana we now have that wonderful piece of crap legislation called 'the voucher program'. All it does is divert much needed funding from a public system and funnel it into a private system.

    This has the effect of weakening the public infrastructure, and its done on purpose. The Right wants to weaken the public infrastructure so they can then point it to and exclaim "See we told you it doesn't work!". In this way they can garner more support for the private institutions which very often do worse and only funnel public money into private markets.

    --Enlighten the people, generally, and tyranny and oppressions of body and mind will vanish like spirits at the dawn of day. - Thomas Jefferson--

    by idbecrazyif on Wed Jul 18, 2012 at 06:57:30 AM PDT

  •  My own experience with k12 as (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    the home school special education teacher of one student was that the connection was of poor quality and the course was such that this particular student (who had anxiety and stress issues) who was otherwise identified as TAG (Talented and Gifted) struggled.  Poor course design, poor tech support.

  •   Santorum's Charter school raided by FBI (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    smiley7, mconvente, fumie

    for confusing taxpayer funds for his own

    Who would have guessed a Public Charter School "Owner" would mix up the taxpayer money he gets to educate kids with his other money ? Seriously, what do you think this whole push towards profitization of education is all about ? Local legislators were parading this guy around and promoting his biz model earlier this year.

    Here is how the For profit charter school circle jerk of affiliation works in Utah

    Lets see... new appointed member of the Utah Charter board
    Howard Headlee  served six years as vice president of the Utah Taxpayers Association, part of the State Policy Network, A country wide network of Koch funded think tanks. The Sutherland Institute is Utah's other SPN member.  SPN operates as ALEC's state based scaffolding to locally support ALEC's legislators. The president of the Utah Taxpayers is Senator Howard Stephenson an ALEC member that sits on the ALEC education Task Force, along with Margeret Dayton. The Vice pres of Utah Taxpayers is Royce Van Tassell fmr communications director of Parents for Choice in Education a phony grassroots org that promotes vouchers,for profit online ed & charters etc... PCE is funded by Betty Davos American Federation for Children through a sub org called All Children Matter. Oh wait ! American Federation For Children is also a member of ALEC.

    •  bingo--follow the tax breaks, and you'll see what (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      ballerina X, mconvente, fumie

      much of this virtual school push is all about.  It's heartbreaking and frightening at the same time.  

      We certainly need to keep Romey out of the WH, but more importantly, we need to protect the individual states from the Republican facilitators holding office who seek to privatize education--they are doing the most damage at the state legistature level.  

      If the plutocrats begin the program, we will end it. -- Eugene Debs.

      by livjack on Wed Jul 18, 2012 at 07:34:31 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  I would rather see online courses used by public (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    schools. I mean that you could develop a curriculum that included excellent online courses at all levels.  

    •  Just the question that entered my mind. (0+ / 0-)

      If virtual education is so great, why isn't the public schools developing it to suppliment the brick and mortar school?  This should make it even cheaper, when you remove the profit motive.

      Of course those pushing virtual education, don't really want to educate children, they want to privatize education.

    •  K12 is not all online (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:

      K12 isn't all online courses of the read-click-answer-etc variety.  Much of the content is basic schoolbooks and typical class assignments.  

      What works well for us, though, is that the curriculum is more planned and documented.   We had problems with our homebound tutor that she had to rely on individual teachers to provide assignments and they just weren't set up and organized for that, and often she didn't understand the assignments because materials did not have instructions on them, and the curriculum was not documented for her, or the teachers just didn't tell her critical informaiton.     I don't blame either the homebound or the class teachers.  It's just that the resources hadn't been put towards setting everything up that was needed to support a homebound instruction.   In some ways it's understandable because it's a small percentage of the total student population, and so many other demands on school resources.    It was clear that Homebound tutoring was more of a duct tape and paper clip solution, rather than a well-planned educational program.    

      My public school is using online courses, particularly for math.   However, it was not accessible, and parents could not view the results at home.  This was frustrating, because I wasn't receiving papers that were marked with grades, so it was difficult to monitor progress.     Part of the problem is that they are proprietary products, and they are so careful of copyright that it constrains the way it can be used.

      It is efficient for materials to be developed once and shared, and computers provide a lot of power in quizzing kids and tracking results, freeing up teachers from some of the grading and paperwork so they can have more information on what areas need to be addressed, and spend more time in class addressing them, instead of quizzing and grading.

  •  Most of these schools are there to make a profit. (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    k8dd8d, mconvente, fumie

    If you figure that you can get a 13,000 dollar voucher, from the taxpayers, like people in Milwaukee County can, for example, then, even in a very frugal Charter School environment, you are not going to make much of a profit. You have to pay for the  building, electricity, teachers, etc.

    Figure it out. If you "own" the school, most voucher money will have to go to teacher salaries, and you have to raise class size in order to make money. If you raise class size too much, you are going to have obvious problems.

    So, an attractive alternative is to have online schools. There is no overhead.

    Yes, online courses can be useful, but don't kid yourselves, this is not about improving education and is about making money.

  •  It's just wrong (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    mconvente, fumie

    I can't think of anything worse for education.  

    The problem with education is that the whole "drown it in the bathtub" philosophy has driven governments to see cuts in education as the next thing.

    The thing that is incredibly evil about the whole charade of for profit schools is that they really rely on low income students to bring in more money.  

    They simply cannot, and could never, operate on a fully independent model.  

    They will always be leeches.

  •  Now that they're outsourcing the local news to (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    smiley7, fumie

    reporters from places like the Philippines, why not outsource local public education? Think how much cheaper you could get teachers there and in China and Cambodia.

    You could get graders to evaluate tests and papers (those not completely multiple choice which will actually be the most preferred because the computer will grade them, saving labor costs) for just pennies.

    If you don't think this is where education is heading, think again.

    And Bain Capital will make a fortune investing in the outsourcing companies.

  •  Let's not forget.... (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    MaikeH, mconvente, fumie

    Our public schools fill other essential social functions.  


    Community Centers

    Recreational and Athletic Facilities

    Performance and Exhibition Spaces for Music, Drama, and the Arts

    And, perhaps most importantly and completely ignored by those who feel that women shouldn't work but rather be always home, childcare while parents are at work.

    All of the above is pictured as "far-left socialism".  An important purpose here, in addition to the financialization of public education, is to enforce a narrow, conservative, fundamentalist theocracy on the whole society.

    Labor was the first price paid for all things. It was not by money, but by labour, that all wealth of the world was originally purchased. - Adam Smith

    by boatwright on Wed Jul 18, 2012 at 07:24:13 AM PDT

    •  The ROI is relative (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:

      Our schools are all those things, but they have also become so rigid that they many kids and families are forced out because they can't fit into the narrow one-size-fits-all slots, and the bureaucracy can strangle entire families in a heartbeat.   The more the state and federal governments "improve" them, the worse they get.

      The more strangling rules that we devise, from what kids eat, to how they play sports, to how they do their recess, to attendance, to standardized testing, and on and on and on, the more narrow and rigid the schools become.    I had to fill out about fifteen forms to get registered in a new school this year.  They were for great purposes, but just filling out all those forms is enough of a barrier to keep some kids out.

      When you talk to the principal about various issues, they just say, "It's State law.  There's nothing I can do."

      What's the point of having local school boards and local principals, when they have no power to fix the issues that parents bring to them, that are caused by the state?  

      Where is the state's accountability?  There is no one at the state who is willing to take parent calls from across the state.    Not unless we have a handy million dollars in our pockets to PURCHASE access.    

      It's a runaway train.  

  •  Depends on the question (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    If the question is 'how can we have shittier schools while plowing money into the pockets of well-connected and typically conservative special interests,' then 'online charter schools' indeed could be an answer.

  •  Thank you for this important diary! (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    "Lets show the rascals what Citizens United really means."

    by smiley7 on Wed Jul 18, 2012 at 07:33:44 AM PDT

  •  I can't imagine a school... (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    where students don't go into a physical building and interact with each other and with their teachers.  This model of children sitting alone in their own homes all day long looking at a computer screen is ludicrous.  it certainly is not education.

    "There have been tyrants and murderers and for a time they seem invincible but in the end they always fail. Always." -Gandhi

    by Grandma Susie on Wed Jul 18, 2012 at 08:07:49 AM PDT

  •  Thank you teacherken for warning us with this new (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    mconvente, fumie

    but not surprising information that warns us yet again why turning education into a for profit enterprise is NOT a way to help insure that "our children is learning" - far from it.

    I read yesterday that John Sununu the elder is supposed to be a genius? Yet the values he espouses - short sighted Republican values - would likely have him arguing in favor of the mindless turning of childhood education over to HMO-like for profit "deciders".

    I had the shocking experience about 12 or 13 years ago of visiting a charter school in Houston - The Kipps school

    Even though this school has been written and talked about as a success, when I went there over a decade ago this is what I noticed.
    1. the children in one class memorized some long mindless cheer that they were led in - totally uninspiring and seemed like a military drill.
    2. the children were marched to a recycle bin to drop in a bag of newspapers. - a few minutes before this show and tell happened I had stayed behind the others from the company I worked at (a brokerage firm involved in trying to get the business of marketing bonds for this type of school!) I had spoken to a little girl who was carrying a bag full of newspapers to be deposited in the recycle bin and I asked her what she was working on - she said she didn't know what she was doing or why.....
    3. I went to a back classroom by myself to observe a lesson - there I saw a teacher who did not know how to spell writing something on the chalk board and struggling ineffectively to do her job - my opinion was that she had no interest in the children but was struggling to earn a paycheck.
    A horribly boring class.

    For profit jails - political pressure for more arrests to fill beds.
    For profit health care - political pressure for  higher premiums.
    For profit schools - political pressure to undermine public schools and the heart and soul of teaching.

    Finally people have gotten sick and tired of being had and taken for idiots. Mikhail Gorbachev

    by eve on Wed Jul 18, 2012 at 08:07:53 AM PDT

  •  Our school SYSTEM (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    I just wanted to point out the difference between a public school system, and a school.

    A public school system may provide services in some areas that it does not in others, so that families can choose the services that they need.   For instance, we have one elementary school in the district that focuses on care for children with special needs.   And we offer violin classes at one elementary school but not in others.  And, we have an "alternative" school for kids who are behind, pregnant teens, etc.  Parents who want a particular service can transfer to that school.    

    If you compare one of those schools to another within the same district, you will find differences like were mentioned in this diary -- more children with physical disabilities the school that offers extra nursing services.  More higher-income families have the resources to move their kids to the school that offers violin, simply because it requires extra resources to travel farther.   And, possibly a higher rate of children using free lunches at the alternative school.

    Our online school, Texas Virtual Academy, is part of our greater school system.  Our school districts contribute to the charter school, so that the state can offer this service as part of a comprehensive solution to educational services.    Because the services offered are different, you will find different populations in the schools.   But, the services are offered to everyone in the district -- free, and it is not a selective admission.  The reasons that kids go there are based on the needs of the family, and it is distinct group of kids who particularly need this environment, and the profile will be a bit different from a typical brick-and-mortar school.

  •  Khan Academy (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    You didn't mention the Khan Academy in your diary, but it's an example of an online education alternative.  And it has garnered massive amounts of attention, including from Wired Magazine and Bill Gates.

    Khan Academy has helped a bunch of students with learning, but I'm a bit concerned about its broad adoption rather than as a supplement to traditional teaching methods.

    My concerns are two-fold:

    1) Who regulates Khan Academy?  It's founder, Salman Khan, is very intelligent, but if I'm not mistaken he himself has produced every single video lecture on his website, despite covering topics as wide ranging as life sciences to art history.  Is this guy really an expert on everything?

    2) I'm going to be frank here - in my opinion, most of the students who benefit from Khan Academy are the ones who have no trouble learning in a normal K/12 academic setting, and are probably middle to upper-middle class.  They have ambition, they have regular internet access with broadband, they have parental support (what kid is going to find Khan Academy on his/her own?), they are probably even smarter than your average student.

    So basically, this helps the bright get even brighter, which is a good thing no doubt, but how can it help the entire classroom learn?  Schools in regions of poverty can't even get new books, and now all of a sudden you're going to somehow get computers w/ broadband internet for every single student?

    Ken and others, I'd like to hear your thoughts on the Khan Academy.

    "Give me a lever long enough... and I shall move the world." - Archimedes

    by mconvente on Wed Jul 18, 2012 at 09:24:43 AM PDT

    •  IMO, it's a great supplemental (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:

      resource.  Sometimes kids just need to have something explained to them in a different way, and Khan can do that.

      We homeschool, and have used it sparingly, mostly because it doesn't link together well for a full curriculum, and in many of the videos, he starts with the assumption that you have a certain basic knowledge.

      My daughter, LOL, complains about the way that he does math problems, what color chalk he uses, what kind of tie he's wearing, it's a complete distraction to her (that or an excuse to put math off for another hour).

      But my 11 year old really likes the badge/reward system, so when he needs to practice a concept or just do problems in a certain area, it's a good motivator for him.

      But this is all supplemental and IMO shouldn't replace a regular math curriculum.  

      If you took the greed out of Wall Street all you’d have left is pavement ~Robert Reich

      by k8dd8d on Wed Jul 18, 2012 at 09:53:16 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  Maybe I'm missing something (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:

      I took a look at Khan academy, just out of curiosity, because a consultant where I work was raving about it.

      I found it had great information, but was not really organized in a curriculum.  In other words, someone using it would still need a plan for what to present in what order.    

      Besides, it's all online.  The nice thing about K12, is that much of the material and activities aren't really "online".    There are books, and activities that aren't conducted online.

      Khan is one resource, but not a school alternative.

  •  I don't. (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    But as long as baby boomers continue to place their focus on protecting seniority and their raises over creating opportunities for young teachers they will be on the defensive in the reform debate. I have a PhD and 8 years of teaching experience. According to the union representative that Iowa Public Radio interviewed, I am not qualified to teach high school math without going back to school and burdening myself with more student loans to get certified. Just giving you perspective on how many in my generation see it. At least an online charter school would give me and others with subject matter expertise a chance to teach. The unions need a positive reform program that brings highly qualified teachers into the classroom, not just play defense and always be criticizing other proposals.

    Passive renunciation is not the whole of wisdom.

    by play jurist on Wed Jul 18, 2012 at 09:31:03 AM PDT

  •  Let's end the slobbering over the Khan Academy (0+ / 0-)

    while we are at it. Sure, they guy's smart but it is not a substitute for being taugh in person by a teacher in a classroom or lecture hall. This online stuff is basically an attempt to weaken the teachers union. The goal is to make classroom teaching obsolete and there reduce the number of teachers and thus teachers union members.

  •  FBI investigating PA cyber school owner (0+ / 0-)

    There is at least one TV ad per hour for these cyber schools. They sound just wonderful. Our governor is all for funding cyber schools, charter schools, vouchers and for cutting public schools. It looks like it's catching up with him.

    From Crooks and Liars:

    FBI Goes Over Gov. Corbett's Head To Investigate Connected Cyber Schools Owner

    Will Bunch has a long memory for Pennsylvania politics, and in his latest post, he points out that the FBI finally had to come in to investigate the finances of a politically-connected cyber schools operator -- whose activities were pretty much ignored in an investigation by then-Attorney General Tom Corbett (who's now our Scott Walker clone of a wingnut governor). He's also famous for taking three years before the state prosecutors finally brought charges against Jerry Sandusky.
    and there's this regarding funding of these cyber schools - there's lots of profit involved since they're funded at the same level as physical schools:

    Taxpayer Dollars Funding Both Public & Cyber Schools

       . . .State Auditor General Jack Wagner said it is the state funding formula that’s the problem.

        While traditional districts are required to maintain school buildings and fund interscholastic athletics — justifying a $10,000 a year per pupil cost — Wagner’s most recent audit puts the cost of educating a student online at only $3,000.

        Meanwhile cyber enrollment has doubled in the past five years and statewide school district payments have increased from $70 million to $250 million. He said much of that is unchecked and unaccounted for like Pa. Cyber’s spending on radio, television and billboard advertising, which he calls lavish.

        “Keeping in mind that all of those dollars are taxpayer dollars and public school should not have to advertise,” Wagner said.

        But while traditional school district continue to lay off teaches and cut programs, Pa. Cyber and other cyber schools continue to grow, which is adding fuel to the fire on this debate on funding.

  •  I like the idea of those of us on the left (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    FloridaSNMOM, fumie, DFWmom

    advocating for choice, that all families should have the choice and the resources to provide whatever education works for the needs of their children...and we should recognize that those needs cannot always be defined by the little small boxes that public education places children in.  Boxes that are getting smaller and smaller all the time.

    But at the same time, we cannot allow those choices to be sold to the highest bidder which is what appears to be happening in the charter school movement.  Unfortunately, it's happening throughout education in a variety of ways.

    Thank you Ken, for another thoughtful diary!

    If you took the greed out of Wall Street all you’d have left is pavement ~Robert Reich

    by k8dd8d on Wed Jul 18, 2012 at 10:39:03 AM PDT

    •  I agree (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:

      Nothing is ever perfect.  I think public schools do a wonderful job for the 80%, but there are 20% that they fail badly.   Those kids and their families need something that public schools can't provide.  You can find many of those in K12, maybe with their needs not entirely met, but still trying.   Solutions for these families need to be extra flexible, because each of these kids has unique needs and one solution isn't enough for all of them.  Indivually tailored solutions are too expensive for districts, so we need to paint solutions with a broad brush, and build in extra elasticity.   Computers and internet connectivity are not a total solution to education, but they are powerful tools that open up possibilities that weren't there before.

      I think one thing that would help would be a statewide study of accomodation plans.   You could probably find 20% of accomodations that are required by 80% of students (like flexible schedules, accelerated learning, etc.), and build a system that supports those requirements, and have a great success.

  •  Why virtual schooling? (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    k8dd8d, FloridaSNMOM

    I'd like to see a discussion of K12 from the perspective of families who choose it.  

    Why are they choosing virtual schools?  

    I know why we did.   We have one healthy child in public school, and one child with physical disability who is in K12.    We wanted the standardized curriculum and instructional support.   We tried public school, and Homebound, before going to K12, basically working down the chain.   Full bore homeschooling isn't going to work for us, and more flexible schooling options are unaffordable.  Our choices are very limited.

    I think if you ask parents, there are specific reasons that they have to take this route.   And, the typical stereotypes don't necessarily apply.    It's not a desire to raise a kid in a cult.  It's a problem with a child who is a square peg who is not fitting into a round hole, and concerned parents trying to solve the problem.    I think many parents reluctantly  leave traditional public school and arrive at this solution, rather than eagerly seeking it out.

    I think one thing you will find is that parents don't want or cannot take on full home-schooling.  They want a state approved standardized curriculum.   They want the structure of schedule and instructional supervision (acknowledging quality concerns expressed in this diary and comments) and attendance tracking.  

    For these same reasons, I don't see K12 as that big a threat to brick and mortar schools.  Most parents WANT the social interaction and supervision and libraries and personal instruction and sports and band and social activities and all the other advantages that public schools provide.   It's EASY to have your kids in public school, and it is much more demanding on parents to have to go to a virtual schooling situation.   We don't do it unless we're driven to it.  

    It is important to recognize that many parents are trying very hard to stay engaged in the public school system, but are struggling with problems where public schools cannot address their child's needs.     If we truly want kids to remain in traditional schools, then traditional schools are going to have to be a little less traditional.  

    From my point of view, having high schools operate more like junior colleges would solve a LOT of problems.    I don't know what we can do for younger kids in this situation.  It's a huge challenge.  Continuing to try to force them into the same mold, or applying enough pressure to drive their parents out of the system entirely, is NOT a good solution.

    Traditional schools don't have a good solution for kids that look like other kids, but have issues that make it near impossible to operate effectively in the physically and demanding public school environment.   I'd like to see some adults forced back into this setting for a year.  It's a high energy, emotionally demanding environment that's not suitable for some kids, and there seem to be little or no alternatives.

  •  Thank you, TeacherKen (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    k8dd8d, FloridaSNMOM

    Since this is a subject that has been so important to our family over the past year, I really appreciate the thoughtful discussion of it.

    We have serious concerns about leaving the safety net of a traditional public school, but literally had no choice -- something many people can't understand.   I understand other people's ignorance though, because sometimes I'm not even sure I understand, and we've lived with this illness all her life.  

    We have many concerns, and really grieve the loss of the traditional public school, but we have no choice but to move forward.  And keep scheming, of course, to see if there's any way we can find to go back.    

    It's scary to try to go back, though, because the school will say, "Let's give it a try.  We'll accomodate you.", and as soon as you do, you end up wrapped up in ten thousand miles of red tape, with paperpushers trying to push you off a cliff.   That's happened a few times, and NOT AGAIN.    Too many cooks in the kitchen spoil the broth.   I wouldn't care if dinner gets spoiled, but it's our child that's at stake, so that's totally out.  We are doing much better without all that drama and pressure

    So, we can't go back unless we're completely certain, and nothing is certain when you struggle with an illness like this.  

    So, we move forward.

  •  I think online education is an important part... (0+ / 0-)

    of the mix of educational options that should be available to all kids.  As you say they are not "the answer", but I would say they are "an answer" for some.

    I agree with you on the issue of for-profit schools, or non-profits disguising enterprises that are designed to reap huge profits for the key administrators.  I think that is a real issue!  And I think it could be well addressed by laws that focused on reviewing the fiduciary practices of schools, online and brick-and-mortar, rather than focusing on their very narrowly defined "results" based on standardized testing.

    In the work world I am a part of, most of the "knowledge work" I participate in is done through remote collaboration with other people over the Internet rather than interacting with people face to face. Here's a link to a piece I wrote about that...  

    I think many kids growing up right now would be well served to have at least some opportunity to satisfy their obligatory education requirements online, rather than in a physical classroom.  It would add to these young people's skill set in interacting and collaborating with others.

    Cooper Zale Los Angeles

    by leftyparent on Thu Jul 19, 2012 at 12:21:56 PM PDT

Subscribe or Donate to support Daily Kos.

Click here for the mobile view of the site