Since we are talking about legislation today (see Funding And Legislative Issues In Ohio For K-12 Online Learning), last week sometime I also saw this come across my Twitter stream (thanks Mickey):
Tweet on K-12 online learning
This link took you to An Act concerning Education – Public Schools – Virtual Schools (and I don’t have time to look through the bill in detail here now, but will try next week). Later that day Twitter user virtualparent sent me two Tweets with the following stories:
Baltimore County parents push for online instruction: For-profit program provided free last year was discontinued for lack of funds
By Arin Gencer | firstname.lastname@example.org
8:50 PM EST, March 3, 2009
A group of Baltimore County parents whose children participated in an online learning program that the school system did not fund this year has formed an organization to push for access to alternative education throughout the state.
The founders of Emerging Minds of Maryland, which is incorporating this week, were among several parents who for months repeatedly urged the school board to find money to continue a one-year pilot program. The online Connections Academy gave their children a chance to learn in ways the conventional classroom did not – and at their own pace, the parents said.
Emerging Minds of Maryland Launches New ‘Virtual School Option’ Advocacy Group
Emerging Minds of Maryland was created by a group of parents committed to expanding the opportunity for students in Maryland to participate in the entire range of online or “virtual” school options, they are launching their efforts today.
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
PRLog (Press Release) – Mar 03, 2009 – Baltimore, MD –Emerging Minds of Maryland (http://www.emergingmindsinc.org) was created by a group of parents committed to expanding the opportunity for students in Maryland to participate in the entire range of online or “virtual” school options. There are twenty-one states that provide a full-time virtual opportunity to public school students and many more provide extensive supplemental instruction. This emerging and exciting form of schooling has had limited use in Maryland and is not available to most students.
What is a Virtual School Option?
Virtual schools provide students with the opportunity to use computers, print and online textbooks, lab equipment, and art supplies and much more outside of the traditional classroom, often at home, while interacting with certified teachers and other students via the Internet. It affords families an alternative when their child is not succeeding in a traditional environment, including students who are gifted, have special needs, and are in need of remediation or a flexible schedule. In addition, virtual instruction can be the optimal choice for a child facing bullying, health issues, expulsion, pregnancy or experiencing any educational hindrance. This is an innovative alternative for students who are falling between the cracks in brick and mortar schools.
I’ll be honest and say that I don’t know much about this Emerging Minds of Maryland program. For example, I don’t know if it is public or charter or private. I don’t know if it is designed to be supplemental or full-time (although I get the sense that it is largely for full-time students). I don’t know how the proposed legislation cam about – for example, was it in response to programs like these in Maryland (as we have seen with legislation in Wisconsin and Ohio) or was it to allow for or for the growth of these kinds of programs (like in Illinois).
If we have readers who can shed some more light on this issue, please let us know…