Monday, October 31, 2005

It's past time for cyber schools

"Imagine if Tennessee's state legislators of yesteryear had banned overhead projectors in schools; prohibited educational filmstrips, movies and audio recordings in the classroom; or outlawed computers to supplement traditional holdings in school libraries. Unfortunately, Tennessee's legislators of today may have made a mistake of an even greater magnitude by forbidding cyber charter schools and precluding the use of a technological tool that can advance learning in our state."

All that from the latest Tennessee Center for Policy Research Policy Brief, Cyber Charters in the volunteer State: Education Options for Tennessee's Forgotten. Shaka Mitchell makes some excellent points and I encourage every educator, legislator and parent to consider her arguments for cyber charter schools. Maybe her best is:

"One reason alternatives to the conventional public school system have experienced little traction is that charter schools, vouchers and magnet schools are largely considered options for improving urban schools. Everyone feels good about providing education options for minority kids in Memphis, but this attitude leaves out a large percentage of the population. More than a quarter of the state's population is considered rural..."

and then goes on to pointing out that cyber charters could be just what families in Rhea County, and others like them, need. She's exactly correct.

"It's outrageous that people have to drive 40 miles one-way to find a high school that offers a full range of classes. In Rhea, there is only one high school. If, in a given year, there is little interest in taking Physics for college credit, then the course will probably not be offered. "

Go read the rest, it's only five pages, and then contact your legislators and ask them "Why not?" Ask the Governor, in light of the the recent Governor's Association study and his own trip to Japan and his bemoaning the lack of scientist coming out of Tennessee schools, "Why not?"

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