Connection between Idahoans for Choice in Education and K12, Inc.

posted Jan 27, 2012, 5:13 PM by Common Sense

Mr. Deide misrepresents the Idaho Education Association and public school teachers in his recent column (October 9).

In recent weeks, parents and teachers across the state have expressed concern over the State Board’s recommendation of two online courses for every high school student.

Incoming Idaho Education Association President Penny Cyr was correct when she stated that Idaho was the first state in the country to require two online classes. If online classes are so effective, why haven’t the other 49 states headed that direction?

The IEA advocates for a blended model of online learning, as the necessary technological skills garnered by interacting both with human and machine mirror the business world skill set needed in this the 21stCentury.

Cyr, a 28-year teaching veteran, was justified when she asked the State Board for research that objectively quantifies the need for students to take online classes without having a teacher ever present in the classroom.

Her concerns that asynchronous courses seem “unnecessarily restrictive and prescriptive, limits local control and stifles educators’creativity and expertise” are well founded.

Governor Otter has publicly stated he would like to see Idaho kids take at least 12 online courses, and State Superintendent Tom Luna has stated he wants 8. It is not far-fetched to presume that accepting only 2 courses is the proverbial slippery slope.

Mandating online education forces schools towards the K-12 Corporation, which currently has a stranglehold on the online education marketplace both in Idaho and across the country.

I notice via public records that in 2009 the largest contributor to Mr. Deide’s organization, Idahoans for Choice in Education, was the K-12 Corporation, in the amount of $2,500.

Applying the corporate business model to education siphons away public monies for private endeavors. Public education is one of the last frontiers for Big Business to get their greedy hands on, and the K-12 Corporation is leading the charge towards privatizing this public entity.

One must ask the question whether Mr. Deide is truly for meaningful education reform.

Suggesting that the IEA and teachers advocate for blocking kids access to technology is preposterous. Students in Idaho schools already have wide access to technology both in school and at home. Thousands of Idaho students already have access to online classes – as it should be – by their own choice.

Parking a child in front of a computer to take online classes is not providing “access to technology,” nor does it guarantee students will obtain the necessary job, people, leadership and organizational skills.

Peer-reviewed research shows that blended online courses work best.

The IEA accurately represents teachers at the sneakers in the classroom level when it says it has concerns about mandating online courses.

Teachers know what works in the classroom, but nobody is listening.

Parents and students should be given the “choice” of whether or not they would like to take online classes.

I would presume Mr. Deide is a proponent of “choice in education”?

Travis Manning is Executive Director of The Common Sense Democracy Foundation, an Idaho Citizen Think-Tank