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January 2013 Policy Study, Number 13-1

   

School Choice: Not if the Unions Have Any Say

   

An Example: Online Government Schools

   

 

More than half the states in the U.S. have statewide online government schools. Online education has been available in some form for at least ten years now, moving from a novelty to a serious educational option. Online government schools in the form of online charter schools and multi-district online schools are enrolling students at a record pace. As evidence of this demand from students and parents, some states show 50 percent growth year over year from 2010 to 2011.[11]

 

Indiana, Maine, and Tennessee recently acted to either begin allowing, or to expand, their full-time, online schools.[12] In particular in 2011 the Indiana Legislature passed House Bill 1002, which ended their pilot program and moved to allow virtual charter schools as of the 2011-2012 school year.[13] At this time the Indiana Connections Academy (INCA) is offering a full, K-12 virtual charter school program.[14]

 

While not intended or best suited for every student, online schools can deliver personalized, flexible instruction that is proving highly effective for many students’ individual learning needs. Online schools are especially helpful to both gifted and talented students, and those with special needs or health issues. Flexibility is an important aspect of the online school option.

 

In case of social problems such as bullying or dangerous schools, online education can be a lifesaver. Students from both rural and urban areas can find online schools useful – often neither one can take the classes they need and want in a traditional setting. Others who have used online schools are returning and summer-school students, who may have unique needs or be unable to attend at traditional hours and settings.

 

In Iowa the two districts offering online schools are both small, rural districts (Clayton Ridge and CAM) concerned about the decline in their student numbers, ability to offer advanced classes to interested students, and services for challenged students.

 

The popular Iowa open-enrollment system allows them to recruit students from any other district. With open enrollment, the money to educate the student comes with the child. This will bring money into these small districts. The potential attractiveness of online education to homeschooling families was another selling point. The administrators in these districts looked at this information and decided to offer online educational choice.

 

As might be predicted, the establishment reacted negatively.

 

   

 

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