Thursday, October 22, 2009

Virtual Charter Schools Held Back

NACSA held a pretty good conference here in Utah this week. A lot of talk about holding charter schools accountable including how to replicated great charter schools and close the weak. Virtual charters were a large part of the discussion since charter authorizers have to figure out ways to ensure that they can manage the growth in online learning.

That lead to some revelations on the insanity that in US charter laws. The first that obviously affects ABCTE teachers is that in some states there are requirements that all virtual teachers be state certified – sometimes at a higher percentage than in brick and mortar schools. The second is that seat time takes precedence over subject matter mastery for students.

Both are ridiculous. Online learning is supposed to fully leverage great talent regardless of geographic location. If a great physics teacher in Pennsylvania is available to inspire future scientists in Utah – they shouldn’t have to jump through hoops in all 50 states to become a teacher.

The real beauty of online learning is truly differentiated instruction. But in our system, if the student masters algebra in 3 months, they don’t get credit unless they sit in front an algebra course for 180 days.

Our laws need to help technology work to increase learning – not hold it back so that the adults can feel better.