Online Schools Becoming More Popular, Despite Union Resistance

Kyle Olson

10/2/2012 12:01:00 AM - Kyle Olson
Enrollment in online schools has increased twelvefold in Ohio since the first internet-based school was created in the state in 2000, The Gazette Medina reports.

More than 30,000 students are currently enrolled, most of them concentrated in seven statewide cyber schools. Only Arizona had more students in online schools, according to the news report.

Online schools, and other forms of digital learning, are an inevitable and promising form of education for the 21st Century, unless special interest forces are able to keep technology from becoming more integrated into everyday education.

Professor Gary Miron of the National Education Policy Center is a leading voice for those special interests, which include teachers unions and the education establishment in general. He suggested that online schools in Ohio may not be properly serving their students due to a lack of state regulation.

“Miron … said Ohio has fewer requirements for online schools than most other states. He cited items like financial reporting, student-to-teacher ratios, and how long students have to stay in a school or pass state tests in order for schools to receive state money,” the newspaper reported.

And?

Miron states those facts as if they’re negatives. Toledo schools may have more “financial reporting,” but does that make them better? The Columbus teachers’ contract may mandate “student-to-teacher ratios,” but does that make the most sense? The state may dictate how long some students must stay in school, but is that always in the best interest of students?

The educational establishment prefers more regulation for alternative school choice options, presumably to make them less attractive to students and families.

The National Education Association – the teachers union that funds Miron’s opinions – wants a one-size-fits-all, government-run monopoly where kids are assigned to schools based on where they live, regardless of that school’s performance. Union leaders don’t want options for parents. They don’t want competition from for-profit operators because they know they’ll lose business.

But competition is what they’re getting. Now that Ohio has lifted the cap on the number of online schools, watch for even more students to exercise their newfound freedom, which is the American way.