Online learning, meet your mentor: charter schooling
Twenty years ago, the notion of charter schools was the new kid on the education-reform block. Advocates saw it as a remedy, even a cure-all, for the ails of public schools, one that would both provide competition and allow underserved students to escape abysmal district schools. Flash forward twenty years and we see that this boundless faith in growing the charter movement has sometimes come at the expense of school quality—which has left a stale taste in the mouths of many, friend and foe alike. In 2011, the new kid on the education-reform block is digital learning. And its proponents would be wise to study the pitfalls—as well as the successes—of the charter movement. There are myriad examples to offer—and authors Erin Dillon and Bill Tucker do well outlining them in the most recent issue of Education Next—but some truly stand out: Investing in good data and research, avoiding bad bargains, and giving students choices while not relying on markets alone to monitor quality are all take-home messages distilled from the charter movement. So, to virtual-education proponents, Gadfly reminds: Those who don’t heed the past are bound to relive it.
“Lessons for Online Learning,” by Erin Dillon and Bill Tucker, Education Next, Spring 2011, Volume 11, Number 2.
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