News out of Georgia about a court ruling there to overturn the authority of the state to create charter schools. Again, this is not a good harbinger for the public schools; an industry that has to go to court to protect its market share is generally an industry in trouble.
In DC there is a quiet skirmish going on about how the military treats students who attended online* schools. Currently, the Defense Department limits all branches of the service to no more than 10 percent of recruits coming in with what it calls alternate high school credentials. As implemented this rule adversely affects students who attend online schools even though states do not consider credentials from those schools to be alternative. There is a bipartisan effort to change this rule in the House and Senate as part of next year’s Department of Defense appropriations bill. Worth nothing: The service academies will take students from online schools.
Couple of issues here. First, the military should, in my view, receive a lot of deference in terms of their personnel needs – especially where they have data to make decisions and apparently non-tradition students are less successful in the service. However, this seems to be an instance where the policy has not kept pace with the times both because of how states treat online schools and also because of their – rapid – evolution. Lumping all online students in this category seems to overgeneralize. Best outcome would be a change in the policy but also some training so the military can become a more savvy consumer in the online space. That’s because this issue again speaks to the need for supporters of online schools to get serious about quality and for states to ensure that accountability and oversight is strong. Quality is mixed right now and while that impacts students in low-quality schools most directly it also adversely affects all online students if their credential is devalued.
By the way, there is also a little irony here in that the military offers a great benefit for its families – free tutoring via Tutor.com – that provides anytime tutoring for all students of active duty service members. Double irony? The Defense Department is looking at creating virtual options for its own K-12 schools around the world.
*Bellwether works with several online or hybrid providers of education.