Virtual Schools are booming – Who’s paying attention? – Politico Magazine

Virtual Schools are booming – Who’s paying attention?

Millions of kids, some as young as 5, now get their schooling online. Just one problem: Nobody knows how well it works.

By Darren Samuelsohn

My nephew’s senior year in high school is already different from mine in any number of ways—the iPhones, the Facebook account, an online encyclopedia of college essay ideas. But perhaps most astonishing is what I realized only after I talked to him about his daily routine: just how little time he’s physically in a school.

This semester, he’s taking two of his classes virtually, and even for the rest, so much of his coursework is done on the Web that he rarely needs to go into the building. By the time he graduates next year, he’ll have logged nearly a full semester’s worth of credits from completely virtual classes. 

Everyone in his school does this at least once: thanks to a 2011 law, students in Florida, where he lives, are actually required to take a cyber course as a prerequisite to graduate. He knocked that off pretty quickly during his junior year, found that he liked the do-it-yourself approach to learning, and started to stack his schedule with them: U.S. history, AP environmental science, pre-calculus and two levels of Spanish. For his final semester next year, he’s planning to take at least two more online: perhaps U.S. government and math.  [Read more]

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  • NDTewarie  On 09/26/2015 at 8:39 am

    Maybe, but he wouldn’t know to spell or count and I’m sure won’t know the basic 2-12 multiplication tables? He’d be an intellectual DUNCE.

  • walter  On 09/26/2015 at 11:42 am

    Here in Ontario this is one of the big fears bugging “Teachers” They are fighting to have earlier retirement (-50) and almost full salary as pension. Anyway they stopped teaching years ago, what saved them was the attitude of ethnic families, still believing Old School “study hard” even at home, to get good marks. Internet classrooms are the way of the future, kids are on it many hours a day, accredited
    colleges are offering more and more courses. Great savings for government, unstoppable, in my opinion.

  • Rosaliene Bacchus  On 09/26/2015 at 3:59 pm

    I am friends with a couple who are home-schooling their six-year-old daughter for financial reasons as well as a way of avoiding bullying in the real-life classroom. While she’s a very smart child, I am concerned that she lacks the opportunity of interaction with other children her age. Developing social skills are also important for our growth and finding our place in society. I guess that has no value in an individualistic society.

    • walter  On 09/26/2015 at 6:47 pm

      I live near to a High School in Scarborough, at recess 99% are on cell phones, I think social skills are a long time dead. I see my grandson a straight A student, always on some device, recently I had to tell him LOOK at your grandmother when speaking to her, sadly this is future.

  • albert  On 09/26/2015 at 6:29 pm

    There are a number of online education programs offered at graduate school level for Masters and Doctorate degrees. Some schools which use to offer home study courses now call themselves Universities and offer advance degrees through online study. Little information on quality of education. Wonder where this wil take us.


  • Gigi  On 09/27/2015 at 11:35 am

    It’s interesting that the folks touting and promoting these technology driven schools and learning devices want none of it for THEIR kids. Not only is it about the old basic pencil and paper for their kids and smartboard/chalkboard, which eliminates hazardous chalk dust and toxic smell of dry erase markers, but also face to face teacher/student/social interaction. But teachers have themselves to blame for this. They were the ones quick to jump on the bandwagon to reduce the amount of class time engaging in teaching. Teaching became all about powerpoints and filling out activity sheets. No wonder parents have lost confidence in schools/teachers. Education in this country is not much about educating children, but about job security and job protection in a corrupt, petty and vindictive system. And heaven forbid should you make the mistake of complaining or criticizing the system.

    This is not totally relevant to this post but does expose the system.

    In Florida, fingerprinting to work/volunteer in the school system is done through the FBI only. When I moved to NY, I took a part time teacher floater position in a Montessori school and had my fingerprinting done at the FBI – U$127.00 that I had to pay for. However, to do my field experience/internship in the public school I was told I needed to have my fingerprinting done at the Dept. of Education – costing me another U$115.00. Of course I complained to the Dept. of Education but I was told that the agencies do not SHARE information, despite the fact that I had to sign a FBI document acknowledging that my information WILL be shared with STATE AGENCIES. So I then decided to complain to the mayor, Bill De Blasio, expressing my frustration at this blatant money grabbing and underhanded business, and specifically pointing out the whole shady business of sharing/not sharing information. I received a letter several weeks later saying that there is nothing that can be done and the reiteration that state agencies do not share information. So I went to have my fingerprint done at the Dept. of Education and lo and behold I was given a letter to sign acknowledging the sharing of my information among state agencies. If this wasn’t so barefacedly shameful, it would have been funny. Adding to this nightmare situation was the fact that my fingerprinting processing was subject to delaying tactics. And that’s where the petty and vindictiveness comes in. More information is shared in this “non sharing” system than is called for. Thank goodness I don’t ever plan on working in the public school system.

    • albert  On 09/28/2015 at 12:19 am

      I dont know the answer to the school system in the US. I often think of the old Bishops and QC in Guyana with their limited resources, old buildings and poorly paid teachers. Yet their graduates are outstanding abroad. When I tell this to local teachers and educators they respond with all kinds of theories about culture, motivation etc.
      Good private school educatuon in the US could be very expensive. ….anywhere from $15-20k/yr. If a student cannot get in to the “Ivy League” public high schools (such as Bronx School of Science in NY) a good, but expensive, private school is largely the only road to a top level university and a competitive education..

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