Cyber schools

I’ve spent my morning in the Community Media Lab researching cyber schools. I received a phone call from Fran Brennan, Michigan state director of Working America, who explained to me about the current legislation, SB 619 which was approved by the state Senate and is set to go before the House soon.

Highlights of the bill include lifting the cap on the number of cyber schools allowed in Michigan and removing the requirement that students be previously enrolled in a public school.

Many have concerns with cyber schools because it is strictly online education and children do not get the chance to socialize with others. There also concerns because there is a lack of data showing how effective the schools actually are.

On the flip side, supporters are advocating for the schools because they are a way to integrate technology into education and are also good for students who need a flexible schedule or need to stay at home, such as child actors or teenage mothers.

What do you think about cyber schools? Would you send your kids to one or do you already? Let me know!

Check http://www.heritage.com in the next few days for my article.

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One thought on “Cyber schools

  1. “Many have concerns with cyber schools because it is strictly online education and children do not get the chance to socialize with others.” I am not sure this is a fair concern expressed by the “Many”. Who are they to say it is “strictly online education”? My wife and I home-school our children using web video streaming instruction. We augment the courses as necessary to ensure our children have the best education we can provide for them. We tailor their coursework to proceed at a pace that is optimal for the individual child and give them the best opportunity to master each subject.

    As for socialization, there are other ways for children to be socialized outside of a “traditional” school environment: neighbors, community activities, church involvement. The church we attend has many home-school families. In addition to the multiple church activities each week (outside of the traditional worship services) that are geared specifically toward various age groups, we actively fellowship and support one another. We plan field trips and outings for our children, attend seminars and conferences, and plan projects and competitions.

    Example: Our family and another family teamed up to take our children on a two day excursion to Lansing. We toured the capital to view the legislature in action, learn about its history and marvel at the architecture. We visited the Michigan Historical Museum to expand and reinforce facts learned in school. We also visited the MSU Dairy Teaching and Research Center as well as the MSU Sheep Teaching and Research Center. And for additional fun and education we also played for a while in the Impressions 5 hands on museum. A focused two days of horizon broadening experiences.
    I share this illustration to show that just because a child may have lectures and assignments in a cyber-environment, does not preclude a child from having a rich and full educational experience. This is the responsibility of the parents. It is also the responsibility of the parents to understand the effectiveness of what their children are being taught and make corrections as necessary.

    I believe the “Many” have concerns about cyber schools and home schools because they are not able to exercise control over them. The “Many” want to limit parents’ choices. The “Many” believe that parents are too ignorant to make informed and reasoned decisions regarding their own children’s education, so the “Many” want the power to dictate and mandate the definition and substance of every child’s education. The “Many” try to disguise this in the terms of concern for the welfare of children. But the “Many” are really worried that if parents have choices, then they will choose options that work best for their families, instead of being forced into a one size fits all paradigm. The “Many” are frightened by the notion of empowered parents because they know these parents will:

    –opt out of failing local public schools
    –choose schools that align with their own moral foundations and values
    –demand more input into curriculum, codes of conduct and even staffing decisions

    If you’ve managed to read this far then you can guess that I support the expansion of cyber-schools. The market will decide if these schools will survive. Schools that fail to provide the expected education and results will go out of business because parents will choose not to enroll their children. I wish the same could be said for the failing public schools. The more money we pump into them, the worse they get.

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