Skip to comments.Bill would create virtual school for grades K-12 (Mo)
Posted on 03/05/2006 10:35:32 AM PST by Conservababe
Bill would create 'virtual schools' for K through 12
Sunday, March 5, 2006
MARK BLISS ~ Southeast Missourian
Some area school superintendents worry about the financial effect on local districts. Missouri children could get an education -- kindergarten through high school -- without ever setting foot in a school building under legislation working its way through the Missouri House.
The bill would require the Department of Elementary and Secondary Education to establish a "virtual school" by July 1, 2007. Students in kindergarten through 12th grade could enroll full- or part-time in a virtual school.
Proponents say it would be the most comprehensive "virtual school" system in the nation.
DESE deputy commissioner Bert Schulte said his department expects to contract with Internet companies to offer several virtual schools in the state.
As with other public schools, virtual schools would be offered tuition-free. The state through tax dollars would pay the cost of the schooling.
The Department of Elementary or Secondary Education or DESE supports the bill. So does the Missouri School Boards' Association and the Missouri State Teachers Association.
Education officials, education leaders and lawmakers say it would expand learning opportunities for students, particularly in smaller, rural school districts that offer a more limited curriculum.
"It makes quality education available for students from every part of the state," said state Rep. Nathan Cooper, R-Cape Girardeau. "Who wouldn't support that?"
But Cape Girardeau school board member Tim Arbeiter and area superintendents wonder about virtual schools' impact on local school districts. It could siphon off some state aid that otherwise would go to the school districts.
"It is one of the things you kind of want to keep your eye on," Arbeiter said.
Cape Girardeau superintendent Dr. David Scala said it might encourage some students to drop out of the public schools in favor of online coursework.
Under the legislation, the virtual school or schools would receive 85 percent of the state aid allocated for each full-time student served by Internet instruction. The school district where the student resides would receive 15 percent.
DESE deputy commissioner Bert Schulte envisions most students would take some courses online but also continue to take traditional classes at their high schools.
As a result, the redistribution of state aid would be based on how many class hours a student takes, he said.
"I think the initial impact is going to be quite minimal," said Schulte.
In the first year of the program, the state would allocate $2.6 million to serve a maximum of 500 full-time, virtual-school students.
It would amount to state funding of $5,200 to teach each full-time student.
In the second year, the program could expand to include up to 750 full-time students. By the third year, enrollment would be expanded to include as many as 1,000 full-time students, Schulte said.
He said the total number of students served could be much higher because most of them likely will be part-time students in the virtual schools.
After three years, the legislature would decide whether to expand the program.
About half of the states have virtual-school programs, according to DESE.
DESE's Schulte said small, rural schools often can't find a teacher to teach an advanced or honors-level class. Sometimes a district doesn't have enough students signed up for a particular class to justify the expense of offering that class, he said.
A virtual school would solve those problems, he said. It also would provide a way for homebound students, including those suffering from illnesses or who have been suspended from school, to continue their studies.
Homeschooled students also could take advantage of such instruction, Schulte said.
Rep. Cooper said virtual schools would help students in districts burdened with a shortage of teachers to instruct classes in such subjects as math and science.
Many rural districts don't have the resources, the teachers or enough student interest to provide Advanced Placement courses, he said.
"What's worse, some rural districts struggle to offer the basics that some colleges require for admission, like foreign languages," Cooper said.
Cooper said he believes virtual schools would most help students who suffer from serious medical conditions or disabilities.
Virtual schools, however, aren't for everybody. Schulte said students must be highly motivated and self-disciplined to take classes online.
Younger students will need parental assistance to take such classes, he said.
While Internet companies would operate the virtual schools, Schulte said, DESE will require teachers in such schools to be certified like regular teachers. Students would be required to take the Missouri Assessment Program tests.
The Missouri School Boards' Association says that would help make such schools accountable. "I don't think we would support a virtual school without those provisions," said association spokesman Brent Ghan.
The MSTA views the legislation as an opportunity to further educate students.
Gail McCray with the MSTA's office in Jefferson City said retired teachers could be recruited to teach in the virtual schools.
"It makes sense to try and provide these services to students in another way," she said.
Once the National Extortion Association figures this out, they'll kill it.
Internet teaching will combine the resources of a school system with all the benefits of home teaching - AND cut way, way down on the number of teachers needed, thus reducing the number of lefties employed in the school systems. Also, it then opens up competition - bad virtual schools would lose out to good ones.
Hey, why not? The old MSM is loosing out to the new media, which includes the internet. I would love to see the day when the internet kills liberal academia.
"certified teachers" and "assessments" will serve to keep this system under"control" too. When they say "NO" child left behind...they mean it....
This has support from some very strong organizations in this state.
This is the catch. The state would gain over time, the total control of the entire school system. It would enhance central control.
This all sounds well and good.
But who will harangue students with shouts of 'Bush is Hitler!'
Hm? Bet they didn't think this through.
I use Abeka too!
I just have a low tolerance for pin headed liberals posing as teachers, and all the bureaucratic baloney that goes with it.
The concept of the "modern" school will go the way of the buggy whip and the vacuum tube very shortly. Virtual schools will be able to get the best experts on virtually every subject and present students the most up to date materials. Testing is a small hang up.
Today virtually every college has online courses available to students. The educational monopoly is headed to the same place as the media monopoly.
The savings in bus transportation and building maintenance and bloated administration will be a real eye-opener to tax payers.
That's why it will be a miracle if this is ever adopted in any meaningful way by state governments who are terrorized by their teacher associations.
Much as I am in favor of things like vouchers, this kind of thing really has had serious problems in California. The test scores here do not back this approach.
Homeschooling is one thing, this other stuff can turn into a pro-forma exercise.
"Much as I am in favor of things like vouchers, this kind of thing really has had serious problems in California. The test scores here do not back this approach."
Do you have any examples? I know of a success story: The California Virtual Academy, which uses the K12 curriculum, is doing very well with test scores, to my understanding, and is expected to double its enrollment this fall from the high 2000s to about 6000. We are in our third year of homeschooling using this charter and have been extremely pleased with the quality of the education.
Get the federal government out of our country's education--and education agencies and liberal socialist teachers brainwashed by liberal socialist colleges. Return to the home for education as in the beginning of our country. Then we can teach our children the original intent of the Constitution and correct principles. Might have to turn off the TV as it is now constituted. Do I hear the sounds of the coming American Revolution?
I did an analysis of charter schools using the CA API data for 2003 and 2004. CA schools get a "Similar schools" rank based on their socio-economic profile. Using that, I figured average charter school "similar schools" ranks, and they were not so good.
The biggest problem was in some of the bigger operators like Julian and Horizon.
Leaving them out, it looks like charters do best (and better than the average public school) with poor black and hispanic kids, but less well with populations with higher socio-economic status.
The CDE API data is here -