Half a million American children take classes online, with a significant group, like the Weldies, getting all their schooling from virtual public schools. The rapid growth of these schools has provoked debates in courtrooms and legislatures over money, as the schools compete with local districts for millions in public dollars, and over issues like whether online learning is appropriate for young children.
One of the sharpest debates has concerned the Weldies’ school in Wisconsin, where last week the backers of online education persuaded state lawmakers to keep it and 11 other virtual schools open despite a court ruling against them and the opposition of the teachers union. John Watson, a consultant in Colorado who does an annual survey of education that is based on the Internet, said events in Wisconsin followed the pattern in other states where online schools have proliferated fast.
“Somebody says, ‘What’s going on, does this make sense?’ ” Mr. Watson said. “And after some inquiry most states have said, ‘Yes, we like online learning, but these are such new ways of teaching children that we’ll need to change some regulations and get some more oversight.’ "
Which is indeed what is happening. Hurrah for the democratic process.
But the comments .. oh those comments ..
The answer is more likely to be yes if books were the only thing children learned from in school. School teaches socialization and (we hope) tolerance which is vital for anyone to survive in the real world. It also teaches them that there are other opinions and choices than the ones they are presented with at home. School can be tough, but the life lessons that are learned there are just as important as the classroom curriculum.Life lessons like blend in with the herd, conform and stand in lines.
— Lady Apollonia, Louisiana
I don't know any home school or virtual school parents who do this. Liz, you're ignorant. Get out of your house and go meet some kids who learn from home.
Learning how to interact with other children is as much a part of a child's education as learning how to read.
Sequestering children in basements and teaching them academic fundamentals away from others is harmful. For one day, little Johnny will have to leave the basement and operate in a much bigger world.
— Liz, NY
Fred, you're flat out wrong, or at least so the early returns say. Let the experiment run for a few decades and then we'll know one way or the other.
Electronic schooling is a destructive force, both for society in general and for individual students. As a college teacher for 40 years, I'd assert that most of the learning experience in a pedagogical setting is based on actual live exchange and interaction between student and student and instructor and students. Internet learning reinforces a distorted model of the world, insures that students are unprepared to succeed in later life, and interferes with the development of healthy rounded personalities.
— Fred Waage, Johnson City, TN
I'd bet on the home schoolers.
I sort of agree with the fellow from Missouri about public schools; if we're going to have a representative democracy then we should provide schooling so that people don't grow up to be serfs but free citizens aware of their rights and responsibilities.
The public school system is being undermined in the United States by charter schools, etc. A strong and healthy public school system is absolutely NECESSARY to democracy and economic health for the United States.
— ShowMe - Missouri, Missouri
Charter schools are public schools done different. Once upon a time a public school was a one-room school house funded by the township. Later we consolidated the one room school houses into county-wide districts. Charter schools are just change, is all.
Life is about change. Embrace it.
Time is something no one ever has enough of. Money .. hey guess what? Charter schools enable parents with smaller incomes to attend better schools. Ditto charter virtual schools.
I sympathize with parents who don't want to put their kids through some of the really crappy-quality public schools that are out there, run by petty credentialist bureaucrats. But the move to quasi-home schooling for everyone who can afford it is only going to make the situation worse, and leave out the kids whose parents don't have the money or time to home-school them.
— csdiego, Washington, DC
Yes, you have to have 'a' parent at home, which will leave some parents out in the cold. Others ... my wife was teaching school and her take-home was just enough to pay for the car to drive to work and day-care to watch the kids.
Home schooling (virtual charters were not an option back when) was a fiscal gain for us.
Note that it's Saturday and I'm schooling the monkeys right now (we're breaking for lunch). Why? My wife is the primary educator here - she's got gobs and gobs more patience than I do. But the monkeys took a break on Tuesday, her part time job requires that she spend today driving all to heck and gone across the state .. so today is catch-up and Dad is tagged with proctoring.
The point is we have 'a' parent dedicated to this but you can time-share.
Absolutely Stupid, Dumb, etc.. How can a child possibly learn ina structured mananer at home ? There are too many opportunities to play the wii, nintendo, etc. aand skip the Math book or reading. The child also misses the social learning opportunities associated with a public school. What kind of parent would do this to their Children ? We should have laws that forbid these kind of decisions by irresponsible parents. These parents should be charged with Endangering the welfare of a Child !!Len, you're an idiot. Step a little closer and say that to my face.
— Len, Connecticut
A large percentage of children are home schooled by materials that are religious in nature, which is not permissible for public school support. These children may be isolated socially, and may be cut off fromWere you reading the article? The material is provided by the public school, it ain't religious in nature, it's what their peers are getting at the bricks and mortar school. Except it's better.
supervision in case they are being neglected or abused
— EMBondar, Grand Island, NY
Update: changed the title so it wouldn't look like a 'me too' spam blog. I hate those things.