Opinion
Education Letter to the Editor

On Virtual Schooling, a Key Question Is, ‘Who Benefits?’

July 17, 2007 1 min read
  • Save to favorites
  • Print

). Perhaps we are at the embryonic stage of a change in the education arena and I am just not ready. What I need to know, though, is where classroom teachers stand in this virtual-school trend.

I am baffled about virtual schools and the real intent of this new learning format for K-9 students, presumably within their regular school day (“States Revamping Policies on Virtual Schools,” June 13, 2007). Perhaps we are at the embryonic stage of a change in the education arena and I am just not ready. What I need to know, though, is where classroom teachers stand in this virtual-school trend.

The position within this movement of classroom teachers deemed “highly qualified” under the federal No Child Left Behind Act appears nebulous at best. A combination of face-to-face and virtual schooling requires a degree of accountability to support NCLB guidelines. But the lack of teacher visibility in online schools makes me nervous about issues of accountability, access, and social justice. If teachers are out of the picture, the monitoring of content for bias, fairness, and tolerance is at risk. Similarly, opportunities for matching virtual content with face-to-face content are minimal. Should teachers abandon existing face-to-face content for the promises of virtual classes? Only the virtual decisionmaker will determine the best course of action for students in this new instructional design.

Evergreen Consulting Associates, an online-education group mentioned in your article, suggests keeping experienced teachers out of the virtual-schooling process in its annual report, since “classroom veterans rarely have the opportunity to develop these online skills on the job.” Because few preservice teachers graduate with online-teaching skills, Evergreen writes, many virtual programs “hire and train teachers with prior face-to-face teaching experience” for their virtual schools. Are we now stripping regular classrooms of teachers to go virtual, with those remaining mere consumers of virtual-course offerings?

Those states still debating virtual schools are wise to be prudent in lingering over funding and implementation. Who benefits and who is disadvantaged in this effort to put learning online for every student, even those sitting in classrooms with real, live teachers?

Sandra Plair

Lansing, Mich.

A version of this article appeared in the July 18, 2007 edition of Education Week as On Virtual Schooling, a Key Question Is, ‘Who Benefits?’

Events

This content is provided by our sponsor. It is not written by and does not necessarily reflect the views of Education Week's editorial staff.
Sponsor
Student Well-Being Webinar
Attend to the Whole Child: Non-Academic Factors within MTSS
Learn strategies for proactively identifying and addressing non-academic barriers to student success within an MTSS framework.
Content provided by Renaissance
Classroom Technology K-12 Essentials Forum How to Teach Digital & Media Literacy in the Age of AI
Join this free event to dig into crucial questions about how to help students build a foundation of digital literacy.

EdWeek Top School Jobs

Teacher Jobs
Search over ten thousand teaching jobs nationwide — elementary, middle, high school and more.
View Jobs
Principal Jobs
Find hundreds of jobs for principals, assistant principals, and other school leadership roles.
View Jobs
Administrator Jobs
Over a thousand district-level jobs: superintendents, directors, more.
View Jobs
Support Staff Jobs
Search thousands of jobs, from paraprofessionals to counselors and more.
View Jobs

Read Next

Education Briefly Stated: June 19, 2024
Here's a look at some recent Education Week articles you may have missed.
8 min read
Education Briefly Stated: June 12, 2024
Here's a look at some recent Education Week articles you may have missed.
9 min read
Education Briefly Stated: May 29, 2024
Here's a look at some recent Education Week articles you may have missed.
9 min read
Education Briefly Stated: May 8, 2024
Here's a look at some recent Education Week articles you may have missed.
8 min read