Happy National School Choice Week, America!
January 27 – February 2 has been named National School Choice Week with events promoting School Choice taking place across our nation. The Whistlestop Train is running up the tracks from Los Angeles, CA to New York, NY with 14 stops along the way. Make sure you follow the progress and express support for school choice programs via Twitter.
So, how is support for School Choice faring in America these days? Based on the results, I’d say it is faring fairly well. Half of America’s Governors will be officially celebrating National School Choice Week, joined by 23 mayors and 12 state legislatures.
What is School Choice?
The Heritage Foundation has a brief video that explains School Choice and the impact that it can have on quality of education.
School Choice Resources
Other videos pertaining to school choice can be found at the Heritage Foundation website. The Heritage Foundation also provides research articles and data pertaining to education policies being considered at a federal level, such as common core standards and accreditation. In addition, Heritage provides a glossary explaining the terminology being used in reference to school choice options. (Sorry, but the interactive map at the link above doesn’t work. Wish it did!!!)
A second resource site that provides information pertaining to school choice is the Friedman Foundation for Education Choice, founded by economist Milton Friedman and his wife, Rose Friedman. Mr. Friedman wrote the groundbreaking article “The Role of Government in Education”, which set the premise for using vouchers in education. Below is a video of Mr. Friedman speaking on the subject of school choice. (And for those who are interested, here’s a link to Mr. Friedman’s “Free to Choose” series)
We all know that changes have to be made to our education system. The system operating costs continue to spiral upward while the outcomes, i.e. student performance and quality of education, keep spiraling downward. The “solution’ provided by those who want the current operating system to be maintained is to throw more money at it. That isn’t going to magically resolve the problems. We need solutions.
Finding solutions begins with ideas. Wild, “outside the box” type of ideas in some cases. But since this is National School Choice Week, it provides an opportunity for us to stretch our minds and exchange ideas of what we would like to see changed in our education system.
Sharing an American Education Dream
I’ll start with my idea of the direction I would like to see our education system move in. Full disclosure on this is that I’m a full-time student studying Health Informatics through a fully-accredited, totally online curriculum. I’m partial to using the virtual classroom approach in education. Perhaps one of the biggest advantages is the potential to learn at your own pace. Oh, there are deadlines. Absolutely there are deadlines. But for students who are motivated to learn, online education systems provide a method and means of potentially accelerating the pace of learning as compared to what it would be if taught in a traditional setting. Given the manner in which our traditional public education system now impedes students who would otherwise be motivated to learn and holds them back from learning at a higher rate and pace (and possibly impairing the potential level of knowledge obtained by the student), I definitely see virtual classrooms as a potential means of improving student outcomes while also decreasing the costs per student.
Keeping Pace is a website that provides information about what is going on in virtual education systems across the nation. The organization recently released an annual policy review report that provides a lot of very interesting information and statistics. My state of NC has our own system called NCVPS. Enrollment was over 88,000 last year. County administrators are encouraging students to take online courses to keep operating costs low. But we don’t have a full-time online system.
In the neighboring state of SC, they use Connections Academy system, which covers grades K-12. The system even offers clubs, which I would love to see us utilizing this type of idea more than we have, especially if it involves Young Entrepreneur Clubs.
I also dream of seeing Conservative organizations develop software that might be used for online education. It could be the basic education courses, such as math, science, etc., without all the unnecessary propaganda that left-leaning academics like to throw into the mix. Or it could be specialized courses. Heritage could present courses on American History, Government, etc. An organization like Friedman’s could present courses on Economics, etc. Then we petition the states to include these courses as approved electives in the education curriculum. It would be a start, at least.
All of the school choice options may offer advantages, but my own personal favorite is virtual education. What is your favorite? Why? What are your ideas or suggestions?