Wednesday, April 1, 2009

Confining Virtual Schooling (in Fla.)

Bill Tucker had a Mar. 31 post on The Quick & the Ed about efforts to limit virtual schooling in Florida. Recently, the Center for Digital Education ranked Florida as having the #1 online-learning program in the nation, and other states are, as Tucker puts it, "trying to match Florida's current success."

Yet, Tucker points out that a bill in the Florida legislature would block students students from taking additional credits (beyond the annual norm) through the state-operated Florida Virtual School:
Want to extend the school day virtually? Nope. Fail algebra I your freshman year and want to take an extra course online to catch up to the college track? No dice. Want to graduate early (and save the state money)? Not gonna happen.

Excited about school and want to take a high school course while in middle school? Way too ambitious. Stuck because you need to pass a course and there is no summer school option? Sit in the same class again next year.
Tucker adds that the bill would also restrict the courses that the Virtual School could teach to those in the core curriculum:
Forget...students options to take AP Art History, Computer Science, or any number of other courses. Elective options are limited to what your bricks and mortar school can offer.
Today (Apr. 1), an anonymous commenter on Tucker's post says that a "huge chunk" of the Florida Virtual School's current courses are outside the core curriculum and points to what Florida Tax Watch said about the Virtual School in its 2007 evaluation. The commenter summarizes the tax group's evaluation as follows:
[The Virtual School] saves $1000 per student vs. traditional schools, [has] higher AP scores, higher test scores in math and reading -- the list goes on and on.
Virtual schooling is an innovation with tremendous transformative potential. (See the forthcoming book Liberating Learning by Terry Moe and John Chubb.) But realizing that potential in public schools may be delayed by this sort of hobbling.

UPDATE (4/3/09) The Apr. 2 Tampa Tribune had a detailed article on this story.


  1. Why would they want to limit cyberschooling if they get such great results and it costs less? I smell a teacher's union.

  2. According to Robbin Swad (Miami City Buzz Examiner), the proposed limits would be part of budget cuts to education by the state.

  3. It still doesn't make sense. How many students can you educate with cyberschooling and how many can you educate in a brick-and-mortar school? (Rhetorical question.) The cyber schoole even saves $1000 per student. Theoretically, you could have the need for fewer teachers and other school staff. It seems that you get more bang for the buck by cyberschooling. The only problem I would imagine with cyberschooling would be with elementary school kids, since in most families both parents work outside the home and they depend on school and after-school programs to have somewhere for their kids to go. For older children, I can't see any downside.

  4. There are two issues here. If you look at the proposed Florida funding formulas, there are significant cuts to Florida Virtual School's per student funding that are over and above other education cuts (8.1% cut vs. overall flat to other districts). And, there are severe restrictions to the extent of courses that may be offered. See budget figures at

    BTW, the committee approving this legislature is Republican dominated. It's not being driven by teachers unions.

  5. "BTW, the committee approving this legislature is Republican dominated. It's not being driven by teachers unions."

    So Repubs can't have relationships with teacher's unions? The reasoning behind the vote needs to be looked in to further before I buy that one. Something has to be driving this seemingly illogical decision.

    Color me cynical.

  6. Thanks for the links, i really like the idea of virtual schooling.

  7. What an informative post, thank you so much for sharing this.

  8. It's very nice post! Thanks a lot for it.

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