The Virtual School Debate

Are public school districts feeling the heat when it comes to online education? Well, the Clovis Unified School District (CA) realized that, of the 200 to 400 students it was losing each year, only half were dropping out of school, the rest were opting out—and many of them were doing so because they had found that for-profit virtual schools were doing a better job of satisfying their needs. That's one of the issues to be examined in the August issue of T.H.E. Journal.

Are public school districts feeling the heat when it comes to online education? Well, the Clovis Unified School District (CA) realized that, of the 200 to 400 students it was losing each year, only half were dropping out of school, the rest were opting out—and many of them were doing so because they had found that for-profit virtual schools were doing a better job of satisfying their needs. That's one of the issues to be examined in the August issue of T.H.E. Journal.

The knee-jerk response to the kind of pressure some public districts may be feeling to that competition from the private sector might seem to be to offer online classes themselves. However, T.H.E. writer John K. Waters learned it isn't really all that simple. Certainly, educating and preparing students for a successful future is far and away the No. 1 mission of every school, but it is not the only thing schools do: Among other things, they also serve a custodial function, provide hot meals and help young people develop social skills they'll need as adults. One of Waters' sources points out that, as long as parents need to work for a living, there is going to be a brick-and-mortar school in just about every neighborhood.

That, however, doesn't mean the public school has a monopoly on how and in what form it delivers educational services. For more on this, check out "Virtual Competition" by John K. Waters at thejournal.com and in the August issue of T.H.E. Journal.

About the Author

Michael Hart is the executive editor of THE Journal.

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