I’ve been in education for the last 16 years. I have committed my entire career to helping students and educators navigate the system. As a parent, I try to help my kids navigate the system, too. And I’ll be honest…it isn’t easy. I’ve made some people upset along my journey to give my kids the best education, too. I’ve demanded more recess time, I’ve opted out of standardized test and homework. I’ve met with teachers, principals, curriculum directors, and even the superintendent–and I’m not even a crazy parent. I’ve considered charter schools and private school. I just want my children to have access to the high-quality teaching and learning experiences that they deserve.
Is that too much to ask? Why aren’t our districts, schools, and classrooms doing better? What needs to be done to systemically improve our educational system?
Michael Horn, author of “Disruptive Innovation and Education wrote, “Disruptive innovation in K–12 education in the form of online learning is also the catalyst to bring about more equitable access to high-quality education. Far too many students attend schools that don’t offer the full suite of classes they will need in life to be successful, but through online learning, we can deliver high-quality teaching and learning experiences regardless of where students live.”
Online learning sounds great in theory. It provides equal access to a quality education regardless of a child’s zip code. However, PA legislatures would argue online learning in practice isn’t as great as it seems. On Oct 2, 2019, Gov. Wolf announced that Pennsylvania’s lowest performing cyber charter school will shut down by the end of this year as part of an agreement it reached with the state Department of Education. Wolf said in a news release. “There are high-quality charter schools, but some of them, especially some cyber charter schools, are underperforming. We must ensure that charter school students are getting a quality education they need and that charter schools are accountable to parents and taxpayers.”
Wolf explains online schools, like The ACT Academy Charter School, one of 15 cyber charter schools in the state, who perpetuating the problem. ACT’s most recently released state test scores were dismal with just 13.6% of its students at grade-level in English language arts/literature; 4.6% in mathematics/Algebra; and 4.6% in science/biology.
Less than 5% of their students on grade level?!? How could this be happening? That is a great question. How is this happening? I ask myself this same question every morning when I wake my kids up and they whine, “I don’t want to go to school…”
There has to be another way. We have to get students engaged. If online learning isn’t the disruptive innovation that we need, what is it?