Monday, November 28, 2016

Will “school choice on steroids” get a boost under a Trump administration? - The Hechinger Report

Will “school choice on steroids” get a boost under a Trump administration? - The Hechinger Report:

Will “school choice on steroids” get a boost under a Trump administration?

A policy that Betsy DeVos, a voucher and charter advocate, might favor as education secretary

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 e signature issue for Betsy DeVos, nominated to be the next U.S. Secretary of Education, is giving parents freedom of choice, either to choose charter schools or to use vouchers to buy an education at any school they like, public or private.  The logical extension of such policies – permitting students to take individual courses wherever they wish, by using online options – has already begun to take root in about a dozen states.

It’s called “Course Access” or “Course Choice.” Under such plans, the funding for a course taken by an individual student goes to the school or online company offering the course, often away from the student’s local district. In Nevada, in fact, parents can spend state education dollars any way they please — on private, public, online, part-time and full-time schools, on tutoring and extra books — through education savings accounts, which an advocate for them calls “the purest form of educational freedom.”
As they have emerged in some states, these programs have been assisted by conservative groups such as Jeb Bush’s Chiefs for Change and the Koch Industries-backed American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC). It remains to be seen whether a Trump Administration will boost them further, using federal policy.
The growth of “Course Choice” initiatives in various states was chronicled in depth by The Hechinger Report last year, in this story from our archives.
— The editors
Chatfield High School in Minnesota doesn’t offer sociology (or German, or criminology, for that matter), but when senior Keagan Clarke, 18, finished a fall semester class in psychology, his teacher suggested he try sociology.
Thanks to a relatively new state policy, all spring Clarke went to the school library during second period for an online sociology class.
“It was very cool,” said Clarke, noting it lived up to his psychology teacher’s description: “It was a very interesting topic with some things that will tie back to psychology.”
This initiative, often called “Course Choice” or “Course Access,” is, as one proponent described it, like “school choice on steroids.”
Proponents count at least 10 states that have adopted a collection of policies they began promoting as Course Access — policies that allow students to take classes part-time online (and sometimes in other off-campus classrooms) by choosing from a variety of providers, including charter schools and other districts, instead of being limited to their local course offerings or to one state virtual school. And the Course Access movement is gaining momentum as it expands across the country, with eight states adopting or considering such laws in just the last four years, according to a comprehensive report on Course Access sponsored by the conservative group the Foundation for Excellence in Education and the lobbying firm EducationCounsel.
For Clarke and other students, online schools mean options, but for school district officials, they can mean less revenue, as education dollars flow toward charter schools or other districts that offer the Will “school choice on steroids” get a boost under a Trump administration? - The Hechinger Report:

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