Online schooling seems to be the buzzword around public schools nationwide. Oklahoma state superintendent Janet Barresi (R) has mandated that every school K-12 offer at least 5 courses online. These courses will be accessible at home by students, effectively allowing them to stay at home and still gain credits toward a diploma.
I ask: How do states determine how much to fund each school district? The answer is called “seat time” which means the number of students actually sitting in brick and mortar classrooms. There is a move right now in many states to computerize learning so that face to face teachers are removed from the equation. If enough students take advantage of the online school and do not have to report to school for “seat time”, then the school will drop in “seat time” enrollment and lose funding. Less students in the classroom means less teachers needed to teach subjects, which means… you get the idea.
What is to stop a student from enrolling in these online classes and working at home for three days a week, and then two days, then one day and then not at all? By the time these kinds of policies have run their course what will that generation of students have to show for it? Our drop out rates will increase when these students realize that they failed an entire semester because they didn’t do the work at home where many times parents have stopped motivating them. I believe in parents being extremely involved in their child’s education, but many of the parents (at least at the high school level) don’t visit during parent/teacher conference days and are surprised when you call them to let them know that their child isn’t doing well in school.
The problem here is that most of the people supporting this move barely have any real classroom education experience if at all. Oklahoma’s state superintendent for example has less than two years classroom experience in a small town school and that was as a speech pathologist. She then went on to run a charter school that was very successful because they could turn students away who were not high performing. No wonder they were a success.
Until we elect real educators to office we will not see any kind of real answers for public education. I would like to see our elected officials teach one day in our schools and see how long they last. I would give them one hour before they run away screaming. It takes real, hard working professionals in a brick and mortar school to teach students properly. Computers are great tools, but that is all they are, and they are no substitute for good teaching.