Jeb Bush: Students should have the choice of digital schools
Twins Kaleigh and Danielle Fair graduated from Nevada Virtual Academy last year.
January 31st, 2013
05:00 AM ET

Jeb Bush: Students should have the choice of digital schools

Courtesy Foundation for Excellence in EducationEditor’s note: Jeb Bush was governor of Florida from 1999 to 2007 and is chairman of the Foundation for Excellence in Education.

By Jeb Bush, Special to CNN

(CNN) - Kaleigh Fair had to make it work.

The Las Vegas teenager suffers from two different illnesses – one an excruciating immunodeficiency, the other a rare brain condition called Chiari malformation where portions of the brain protrude into the spinal cord.

When spending five hours a day hooked up to an IV prevented her from continuing classes at her traditional high school, Kaleigh didn’t give up on her education. She transferred to the Nevada Virtual Academy, a tuition-free online public high school that individualizes curriculums for students of all learning abilities.

Inspired by Kaleigh’s strength, her twin sister Danielle switched from her traditional high school to Nevada Virtual, as well, allowing her to receive a quality education while spending more time helping her sister overcome two life-threatening illnesses.

The Fair sisters graduated from Nevada Virtual Academy last spring and enrolled at the University of Nevada-Las Vegas. After all the time she spent at the doctor’s office, Kaleigh is pursuing a degree in nursing – through online courses, of course.

Parents, students and community members will gather at more than 3,000 events across the country this week in order to celebrate thousands of outstanding students like Kaleigh and Danielle, and the educational options that they’ve utilized in order to thrive when presented with situations that just a few years ago would have kept them on the educational sidelines.

The nationwide celebration is called National School Choice Week 2013. Led by a bipartisan, grassroots coalition, National School Choice Week celebrates the rights of parents and children to choose high-performing traditional public schools, public charter schools, private schools, magnet schools, home schools or virtual schools.

The right to a quality primary and secondary education is something that can and should be one of our most fundamental, uniting American issues – and digital education is no exception.

One of the ways digital education unites us is in the ubiquity of its tools; computers, tablets, and even cellular phones make up the future of 21st century communication. We can learn on and with these devices just as much as we use them recreationally. Thanks to technology, parents are empowered to choose not only the best school, but also the best course for their child.

Educational pioneers like Sal Khan of the Khan Academy are harnessing the power of “blended learning” – a classroom structure that harnesses the power of technology to empower teachers and allows students to learn at their own pace. In doing so, they’re maximizing students’ potential to succeed by opening their eyes to a more diverse, customized array of learning techniques than ever before.

Students in these programs can learn anywhere, at any time, with a customized course load that emphasizes what the student and his or her parents want their son or daughter to learn. Combined with the capacity for instantaneous feedback, this approach emboldens kids who have a demanding schedule, battle learning disabilities, learn at a different pace than others, or, in the case of Kaleigh, suffer from a medical condition that makes attending a traditional school impossible.

This type of customization liberates students from a wasteful, one-size-fits-all system borne from a bygone era and an archaic way of thinking – it’s why we see it celebrated over and over again at National School Choice Week events.

Like the Fair sisters’ Nevada Virtual Academy, or my home state’s very own Florida Virtual Academies, many digital schools across America are, in fact, public. Money that goes to those schools, therefore, stays in the public domain and goes to certified public teachers. When a student transfers from a traditional public school to that virtual school, their per-pupil spending goes with them – other students’ funding is not affected. In fact, many digital learning centers’ most robust accomplishment might be their cost savings.

According to the U.S. Census Bureau, it costs an average of $7,848 to educate a student at a traditional Arizona public school. And yet, it costs more than $1,000 less to educate a student at based Carpe Diem schools, a leading education provider in the Southwest based in Yuma, Arizona. Carpe Diem isn’t the cost exception – it’s the norm. And it exemplifies how students transferring to a digital school can actively save taxpayers’ money.

Digital learning is just one important element of the overall school choice movement being celebrated during National School Choice week – and rightfully so. There is no silver bullet. There is no one-size-fits-all option. There can and must be only a proliferation of ever-growing options so that students and parents can embrace whatever educational scenario is best for them.

While digital learning may not be the best way to learn for all students, it is the best way to learn for some students. That very fact alone is defense enough for the right of digital schools – and all forms of choice – to rise in the marketplace of educational ideas.

Every child is not a Kaleigh Fair and might not choose virtual learning. But every parent deserves to choose the education that best fits their child’s needs.

It might be their only chance for success.

The opinions expressed are solely those of Jeb Bush.

soundoff (220 Responses)
  1. timelord7202

    Yup. More online schools like the highly lauded and respected "University of Phoenix" will clearly resolve all.

    *facepalm*

    ANYONE who has had a "digital class" has had instructors overwhlemed with students asking fair questions, not getting the time to answer them all... teachers get burnout, students don't learn as well as they could... it's a lose-lose proposition.

    Bush there is effectively promoting conditions that will set this country farther behind.

    February 9, 2013 at 3:11 pm |
  2. A Reasoner

    My favorite on line class was physical education. All it took was one click, let it run, and hit the Cheetos. Some schools require more clicks, which means you have to find someone else to do it for you. Either way you get an A+ and you're on your way to becoming a great scholar and humanitarian.

    February 9, 2013 at 8:11 am |
  3. Jason

    yes it should be what the students want to use

    February 8, 2013 at 6:19 pm |
    • timelord7202

      The kids, given a choice, would rather play angry birds for 24/7 on their phones...

      February 9, 2013 at 3:12 pm |
  4. SailorJoe

    In my experience virtual school provides a much better setting for learning and personal contact with the educator. Parents need to be involved in the childs learning and socialization. Again in my experience public school was not the best choice even though the school had high ratings and perferred demographics. cheating happens with both traditional and virtual settings, but I do know it is not allowed in a vitual class and safegaurds are in place. They do know. My daughter was homeschooled / virtual schooled, well socialized, scholarship to Tulane, studied her junior year as an exchange student in Germany, fellowship for her Masters University of Texas at Austin and is now a project manager with an international firm and always wants to learn. Bottom line is it is not a one size fits all and any choice requires the parents to be involved. It is not the State who is ultimately responsable to raise and educate a child; involvement of the parents is the key.

    February 7, 2013 at 10:19 am |
    • timelord7202

      Very interesting, but you really didn't provide specifics as to how virtual education is better.

      Right now, virtual education is just that – virtual. Not real. Like I said in my main response, and to others, students do not get the level of attention needed to grow. Students who flounder do not get help they need and they pay out of the nose for, and the admins will just shove far more students to the instructors and let any excuse to hand out "A" grades.

      PEOPLE ARE BEING FLEECED.

      I recommend you go back to college and see for yourself, since I don't think you've actually experienced what you're hyping.

      February 9, 2013 at 3:43 pm |
  5. Alice in PA

    Here in Pennsylvania, ALL of the cyber charter schools are failing to meet AYP. Online schooling is just NOT the way to educate our children. Why? First it goes against all we know about learning being a social and a cognitive process. Students need to have their individual ideas challenged and explored, which cannot be done in a canned curriculum and a teacher who has 300 students daily. Students need to talk and write and read all day in small and large groups as well as individually because that is the way people learn. Second, it assumes motivation for compulsory schooling that most of our students lack. That is the nature of being immature. You don't know what you don't know and what you will/may need later in life. Third, it is too easy to cheat and have others do the work for you.

    February 5, 2013 at 7:37 am |
    • Eric

      >Students need to have their individual ideas challenged and explored, which cannot be done in a canned curriculum and a teacher who has 300 students daily.

      Sooo.... like your average public school?
      Interesting that you actually agree with the opinion in the article yet try to argue against it.

      Maybe you should have gone to an online school instead of a physical school; they could've individualized your curriculum around your reading comprehension or lack thereof.

      February 6, 2013 at 9:14 pm |
    • curtissmith003

      Hello:

      Actually, online schools fit much better with what is known about learning than the traditional model of ware-housing students. I suggest reading the works of seminal theorists like Dewey, Illich, and Stirner to name a few. There is little to no evidence that the current model is effective and much evidence and empirical data to show the opposite. There is not a one size fits all education model, we as a society, need to get over that. Online works for many, but not all and vice versa for classrooms.

      Dr. Curtis G. Smith
      http://www.thewildsmithberrys.com

      February 7, 2013 at 12:06 pm |
      • timelord7202

        Well said, thank you!

        February 9, 2013 at 3:47 pm |
    • timelord7202

      Unlike Eric there, I've had online classes and, Alice, I agree with you – fully.

      They're starting to be seen as a ripoff and students should be forming class action lawsuits.

      SOME in congress started looking into this high level of fraud, so with luck students will get proper justice and these parasitic money mills be put out of everyone else's misery. Students want to learn and contribute to society in good faith. We don't need these private schools, or public schools hawking the same thing, ruining others' lives in the name of profit.

      February 9, 2013 at 3:14 pm |
  6. tarjetasybordes

    I totally agree the world changes dailyhttp://goo.gl/c4hyE

    February 4, 2013 at 2:36 pm |
  7. JayHobeSound

    Jeb Bush is a carpetbagging con-artist shilling on behalf of for-profit online "schools."

    Bush and the other Education Deformers use "choice" to mask these privatization and profiteering schemes. Bush is not a teacher and has zero qualifications to be imposing these scams on citizens.

    February 4, 2013 at 12:48 pm |
    • Eric

      You must have missed the part where it says Nevada Virtual Academies and Florida Virtual Academies are public schools and are funded with public money. I know I didn't miss that part.

      >Like the Fair sisters’ Nevada Virtual Academy, or my home state’s very own Florida Virtual Academies, many digital schools across America are, in fact, public. Money that goes to those schools, therefore, stays in the public domain and goes to certified public teachers. When a student transfers from a traditional public school to that virtual school, their per-pupil spending goes with them – other students’ funding is not affected.

      February 6, 2013 at 9:18 pm |
  8. chris

    The faster we get beyond the uninspiring confines of todays public education buildings and teaching the better for our students. Real world outside an antiquated system which no one trusts any longer and has proven far behind the rest of the world. The only way the public education system is going to respond is to see itself going away by public support for other options. I love this digital school idea. I also like seeing here in St. Louis groups of home schoolers being taught by teachers also giving up on the public school system to create their own environments with kids and learning.

    February 4, 2013 at 9:10 am |
    • Lisa

      Sorry, but the majority of online classes just don't teach kids as much as they get in the physical classroom. It takes a very exceptional student to get a quality education online, and even then that student would do better in a traditional classroom. I've seen kids set far behind because their parents wanted to "try something different" and use these online classes. In the end, it's the kids who suffer when we use them as lab rats for our experiments in education.

      Sure, if kids actually can't make it to a classroom, it's a good next best thing for them, but the real reason people like Jeb Bush are pushing online education is that it's something they can make money off of, unlike the traditional public schools.

      February 4, 2013 at 3:18 pm |
  9. James Mulhern

    The world is changing. Education needs to keep up with the times, our current technological revolution. I agree that digital schools should be an option for students.

    James Mulhern, http://www.synthesizingeducation.net

    February 3, 2013 at 10:10 pm |
  10. Inciteful

    There is MUCH MORE to be considered than simply making education available to more people by offering it online. There is no doubt that a person can get a good education online. Heck, a person can get a great education by reading (i.e., self-taught). However, the societal and economic impact of mass, online education demands a much more thorough analysis than it has gotten so far.

    February 1, 2013 at 8:47 am |
  11. erin

    It's wonderful to have the choice to make when it comes to making a decision about how your children recieve their education. I have been to public school, have been home schooled, and have attended university and met many others from both backgrounds. A common factor in the success of many of these students (and I've known very socially well adjusted and academically brilliant people who have come from both public and home-schooled backgrounds), has been the willingness of their parents to be involved in their education and in their lives, in general.
    After trying public school, private school, and after looking into other alternatives such as our local Montessori schools, I currently homeschool my children using an accredited program that combines regular in-home school with virtual classes, after having determined that learning from home is the best option for my children. My children are doing well academically and they are very competent socially. Is their success solely the result of being taught in a home environment? Absolutely not. It is because we, as parents, are involved. I had to make the decision to see teaching my children as my full time job in order for this to work for them academically. In addition, my husband and I are social, and we don't hide our children in an upstairs bedroom when guests come for dinner. Teaching by example is very important. The children also play on soccer teams, go horseback riding regularly, play with friends in our neighborhood as well as meet up with other homeschooled children for field trips.
    I have learned that in some areas a child taught in a home-schooled environment is allowed by the local school to participate in school sports, in arts and other such classes as well. I was given this opportunity during the time I was home-schooled. I have also read that in Canada (some states – I don't know if all do this), public schools get partial funding for this type of partial attendance.
    Really, the more choices we have, the more chances for every child to acheive their fullest potential, as long as parents or guardians are willing to make an investment of quality time, and this no matter how or where the children are schooled.

    February 1, 2013 at 3:18 am |
    • Alice in PA

      Unfortunately we live in a real world where 99.9% of the students who are not succeeding in the traditional school come from dysfunctional homes, mostly due to poverty. Pouring money into cyber schools and out of public schools does not help these students. Comprehension programs to lift the students out of poverty do help break the cycle of generational poverty.

      February 5, 2013 at 7:41 am |
      • Eric

        Wildly missing the point again, Alice in PA. They *obviously* are not teaching reading comprehension in the Keystone State.

        The online schools mentioned in the article ARE public schools. When a student transfers from a typical high school with a physical building (School A) to ANOTHER typical high school with a physical building (School B), the money follows that student from School A to School B. Since that student is no longer in School A, why would School A need the funding for a student that is now attending School B? The answer is: they don't. That's why the funding follows the student to School B, which now has another student and needs more funding for that student.

        When a student transfers from a typical high school with a physical building (School A) to a non-typical high school with an online classroom (School C) the money follows that student from School A to School C. Since that student is no longer in School A, why would School A need the funding for a student that is now attending School C? The answer is: they don't. That's why the funding follows the student to School C, which now has another student and needs more funding for that student.

        Just because School C has discovered a more efficient way of doing things (no campus upkeep, etc) why should they be punished for it by receiving less funding?

        Your schools in PA must have an awful lot of problems with this kind of thing. It's a good thing the article never mentions anything about your frozen Rust Belt backwater.

        February 6, 2013 at 9:26 pm |
  12. Marc Perkel

    I'm not a fan of the Bush family but quite frankly I think that if you stick a kid in front of a computer who wants to learn that they could self educate and end up smarter than with a teacher. Even more if people created web sites to point the self educated in the right direction. I think he's onto something here.

    February 1, 2013 at 1:19 am |
    • Jeb is right

      Think of all the people that have jobs in the public school system that we can get rid of as well... we can cut all the teacher, administators, maintenance people, etc. many are "union" jobs as well. We can save the local governments millions by firing these under achievers. Taking that money out of the economy and replacing them with unemployment checks is a great trade off in my opinion.
      The public school system has never 'really' been a good investment anyways. Arggg!!! Future generations of people should fend for themselves. Go back to church. and have tighter, closer, family units to get by,.In a world that's only getting closer and nicer... right.

      Sound a little bit wrong to anyone else???.... It does to me... whether it's vouchers, pushed by prevous Bush family members, or this, it sounds like someone wants to kill the public school system. I asked myself, Why? Unions? was someone hurt by bullies? what can it be?

      February 1, 2013 at 11:49 am |
      • JayHobeSound

        Jeb is a con-artist shilling for privatization. Taxpayer money should not be redistributed into the pockets of these online school scam artists.

        February 4, 2013 at 12:51 pm |
    • Jeb is right

      sorry didn't mean to reply

      February 1, 2013 at 11:57 am |
  13. sativa619

    I Do hate to agree with anyone in the Bush family but he is right. Schools have not changed with our technology and we are capable of learning in different ways. Why keep teaching kids with inferior and archaic methods? My girlfriend of 5 years is a teacher, and even she agrees that the system is out-moded by things like iPads, KhanAcademy.org, and other things. We could save time, money, and have smarter kids. Downside is the social aspect, but perhaps that has changed as well.

    February 1, 2013 at 1:18 am |
    • becky

      School is not the best place to learn "social". Matter of fact, it is truly artificial, with age segregation and heavy peer pressure. The real world, with different people, ages, and situations, are where real "social" training takes place.

      February 1, 2013 at 8:44 am |
  14. Takalaka

    Just remember, somewhere in this state, Jeb Bush is eating a puppy.

    February 1, 2013 at 12:43 am |
  15. The_Mick

    Anyone who thinks a virtual education is as good as one with a teacher present is fooling himself. It's appropriate for those who can't get to or afford brick and mortar classrooms, but that's about it.

    January 31, 2013 at 11:50 pm |
    • jaitaesmom

      100% false!!

      January 31, 2013 at 11:51 pm |
      • Alice in PA

        Evidence for that "false" Look into your state's AYP site and you will find that most cyber schools are failing to educate their students. Also, many of the cyber schools, including K12 are under investigation for illegal financial practices.

        February 5, 2013 at 7:43 am |
  16. truechoice

    The future lies in both a standard school setting and the online setting. Colleges already function in both capacities. We should not just give our children one choice or the other. It makes more sense to have a true choice of options such as science class online and science lab in school. Transportation costs could be cut if students had two days in a standard classroom setting for testing, labs, and physically interactive events, while working at home on reading assignments, lectures, and video interactive question and answering periods. Unfortunately this will not ever become the norm because single working parents and two-parent households in which both parents work – meaning the majority of households – would have the added expense of supervision while children are at home.

    January 31, 2013 at 11:20 pm |
    • boopzdoodl

      I am a science teacher and a student can not experience the real learning experience of a lab on-line. I agree that science labs should be done in a group setting with a competent science teacher. All of the on-line labs that I have seen are simulations and very rinky-dink, if you know what I mean.

      February 2, 2013 at 4:37 pm |
  17. lance corporal

    this is already an option and it is in no way under threat........ WHAT was the point of the article?

    Jeb bush the man who gutted floridas regulations and the reason he gave? the regulations fixed the problems so we no longer needed the regulations....... this is not a joke, he used that exact excuse on several occasions when he eliminated long standing and WORKING regulatory devices including the "sunshine laws" that forced open governance. Like all the bushes (and yes I mean all of them) he is a traitor to his country owing his allegiance instead to a particular class and party but not even remotely the majority of americans.

    January 31, 2013 at 11:11 pm |
  18. Voiceinthewind

    He belongs in prison with his brother, don't dignify this evil thief with a less than derogatory response.

    January 31, 2013 at 10:56 pm |
  19. Inciteful

    Why don't you post all the comments that are made? I've made two comments on this article, but neither has been posted?

    January 31, 2013 at 10:44 pm |
  20. Doc

    Ok, so is this girl going to be a "virtual" nurse? I mean, really, how far can this go?

    January 31, 2013 at 10:02 pm |
    • Moonbeam

      Yes, certain courses of study, like nursing, require some lab time to learn to draw blood, etc. Of course, those things can probably be learned later, because one does not have to be a registered nurse to do that. I have been involved in a study to test a certain medicine for FDA approval, which includes lab tests periodically, and the women who are the study coordinators are allowed to draw my blood (and they do it better than most doctors and nurses I've known), test blood pressure, administer EKGs, etc. So maybe it's doable. It just seems like they might have more trouble landing a job with just an online degree in nursing.

      January 31, 2013 at 11:03 pm |
    • Easy E

      Sigh...another day, another ignorant comment. Yeah, the disabled should just learn their place, right? I mean, it's not like there's ever any hope that medicine might advance to allow them to function close to normal. This girl should just give up on her dreams now, because you said so 'cause you're just THAT important and smart.

      The trouble with our country is that there are too many people like you, who cannot see past the end of their nose. Critical thought and problem solving (rather than steady whining and hating) are simply too much to ask from total dullards like you.

      January 31, 2013 at 11:57 pm |
  21. Boomer in Mo

    Missouri tried this but pulled the plug a couple of years ago in a budget cutting frenzy.

    January 31, 2013 at 4:06 pm |
    • becky

      Must have been more behind it than that as virtual schools are less expensive that the traditional classroom.

      February 1, 2013 at 8:47 am |
  22. Cherisse

    As with anything you should always consider the source and follow the money to get at what's really going on, this is worth reading...

    Emails Link Bush Foundation, Corporations and Educational Officials:

    http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/answer-sheet/wp/2013/01/30/e-mails-link-bush-foundation-corporations-and-education-officials/

    January 31, 2013 at 2:31 pm |
    • Prescott "Heil Hitler" Bush

      Thank you.

      January 31, 2013 at 10:53 pm |
    • Moonbeam

      Thank you. I will read this. Maybe I was giving Jeb Bush too much credit too soon (and it almost gags me to give him any).

      January 31, 2013 at 11:04 pm |
    • Perplexed

      So online for-profit schools pay Jeb Bush a lot of money for him to go around promoting their businesses and trying to get laws passed that will make them rich. Why am I not surprised? BTW, you have to know that the last thing a lobbying organization named 'Foundation for Excellence in Education' is interested in is... well... excellence in education. Most of those lobbying groups' names are pretty much the exact opposite of what they actually do.

      February 1, 2013 at 12:40 am |
  23. Anomic Office Drone

    While homeschooling and online classes do work for many students, it's not the best solution for most. It's the exception, not the rule, and the problem with America today is that we all seem to think we're the exception. The vast majority of students are better served by a classroom environment.

    Oh, and if your kid is having trouble in school, ask yourself when it was that you last sad down with him or her and helped with homework or a paper in a meaningful way. Ask yourself if you've taken the time to talk to teachers and get their opinions of why your kid is having trouble in school.

    January 31, 2013 at 2:26 pm |
    • Cat Lover

      You mention that "when was the last time a parent sat down and read or help their student?" Well, home schooling is just that. I have home schooled my children for thirteen years and have six more to go to get all four successfully in college. Our first graduate is at Oxford. They are social, kind, helpful, and exceling in the community, home and with friends. They play sports with the local puplic school, have friends from all walks of life, race and educational environments. You might want to do a little research on the benefits of home education!!!!!

      February 2, 2013 at 8:03 am |
  24. One L

    I'm not sure about online education – I think it shares a similar problem with video games – kids don't have enough face time and don't learn social skills.

    January 31, 2013 at 2:22 pm |
  25. Jen

    I teach graduating seniors in a public school setting. Many of my students were caught by the FCAT, and are in remedial classes/credit recovery. Some online classes are not the be all and end all. A good portion of my students think they are a joke. I have seen and overheard students rampantly cheating on virtual school assignments. 2 years ago, one student was so behind on his classwork, that he had 7 different people logged in as him working on his virtual stuff so he could get it done in time.

    Also, can we take a look at how charters are granted? In Florida, there is a state statute that charter companies are given the public schools they are taking over scott free. No payments, no rent, no lease, nothing. The taxpayers pay to fix up the aging schools, and then a year later, most of them are charter. They boot out alll of the kids who won't get them the test scores they need, and move on.

    January 31, 2013 at 2:03 pm |
  26. MeFromFlint

    I've spent half an hour reading comments and one thing occurs to me: Of the folks denying the need for virtual schools and online education, how many of you had great social success in high school? School was great for you; you had the clothes, the money, the grades, or whatever. You were just not exposed to the damage that many kids suffer from the nightmare of being socially unsuccessful in school. I can't imagine anyone who was rejected and forced to face their tormentors every day that continues to believe there should not be an alternative. Maybe I'm wrong, but it's worth considering.

    January 31, 2013 at 2:03 pm |
    • One L

      So how would they learn to deal with adversity if they haven't been exposed to it??

      January 31, 2013 at 2:24 pm |
    • Todd

      A kid who can't get along with peers in school because he doesn't fit in for whatever reason definitely shouldn't be allowed to just duck the problem altogether by taking classes on the computer at home. How is he going to learn to deal with and relate to difficult people if he does that? Like it or not – difficult people are part of life. They're part of adult work life, too. If you've taught your kid that the best way to deal with this situation is just run from it and stay at home? That's a horrible precedent to set, and how can you expect them to function as an adult?

      January 31, 2013 at 3:10 pm |
      • jaitaesmom

        What about the kids that are out of control that have not been raised properly and they act out. My kid is supposed to take their crap. My kid is supposed to deal with gangs and drugs, when the school system does nothing? Really?

        January 31, 2013 at 3:19 pm |
  27. Nat Strafaci

    Just ask the people in Florida. As governer of our state they say that he was worse than useless. That he was negligent, uninformed, and detrimental in nearly everything he did, or should have done or made worse. Other than that they say, at the fund-raisers with his friends, he was a delightful individual. They are glad that he is gone and no longer able to adversely effect their lives.

    January 31, 2013 at 2:03 pm |
    • MeFromFlint

      When did this become a soap-box for Bush-hating? I thought this was a discussion on education and what is best for our kids. I'd like some of them to at least learn when it is appropriate and not appropriate to air personal grievances.

      January 31, 2013 at 2:09 pm |
  28. Alan

    There is definitely a place for online learning, but be careful.....many students do not have the parental support to make them successful. How many of you are going to stay home while Jr "goes to class"...and then follow up?......
    Schools teach more than curriculum.......schools teach invaluable social skills......fair play, working with others outside of your comfort zone, patience, the importance of hard work. Schools provide athletics, music, art, technology and fine arts....drama, orchestra and dance. Schools provide clubs, ski clubs, science clubs, school newspapers, video news, photography, math leagues and foreign language clubs. Schools provide opportunities for students to travel to museums, overseas and to important events. Schools are public centers......voting, after-school activities and little league. Before you let Johnny robot take over teaching your child, stop and think a bit....and thank a teacher you can read this

    January 31, 2013 at 2:02 pm |
  29. Booger

    I believe it is an idea that has the instance of something that might have a word to itself. In a few minutes.

    January 31, 2013 at 2:02 pm |
  30. are122

    Good or bad I think digital education is what this whole country will go to. It will sure eliminate school lock downs if nothing else.

    January 31, 2013 at 1:57 pm |
  31. us_1776

    All Bushes, please go away.

    Just what we need. More anti-social people who learn stuff in their own private vacuum.

    School is as much about learning social skills as it is about learning some curriculum.

    Course curriculums could include some digital supplemental courses but certainly not as a mainstay.

    .

    January 31, 2013 at 1:57 pm |
    • cs

      You don't have an asperger's child you is high functioning, but hates school so much that he threatens suicide. Maybe then you'll change your mind. Try and have an open mind.

      January 31, 2013 at 2:07 pm |
      • G to the T

        As also the parent of an asperger child, I would say you need to work with the school or find a better school. Isolating an asperger child from social integration is not going to help them in the long run.

        January 31, 2013 at 4:24 pm |
  32. Nick

    Florida proves every day they are the joke and armpit of this country. Pretty soon everyone will be pale white from lack of sun and locked down in the basements of their home using computers to talk for them. The skill of being sociable will cease to exist and every one will wilt away. Why learn how to socialize? Cause it doesn't matter right...................

    January 31, 2013 at 1:56 pm |
    • us_1776

      Floridians socialize with their guns everyday. They're the poster child for how NOT to do just about anything.

      .

      February 1, 2013 at 1:53 am |
  33. Rajin Cajun

    Has he overlooked the needs of pedophiles to work hands on with our youth? They're people too. Let's say no to virtual schools and continue to enrich the lives of hallway bullies and whack job teachers!

    January 31, 2013 at 1:43 pm |
    • Alan

      It's clear that some of those pedophiles and whack jobs got to writer (who is a bully)..ha

      January 31, 2013 at 1:53 pm |
  34. Lord_Byron

    I do not like the voucher that people like Jeb Bush fully support. Often the money is going to religious schools that teach such wonderful facts as the kkk was a force for good in the south or that god caused the trail of tears to convert native americans to christianity.

    January 31, 2013 at 1:40 pm |
    • KB

      That is not what Christian schools teach. I went to one as a child and I learned about the evils of racism; I was never taught racist or bigoted principles. Not once.

      January 31, 2013 at 1:53 pm |
      • CMNSNS

        Christian schools teach the wonderful word that you must love someone who never existed with all of your heart or burn forever in eternal damnation. In the world of reality, we call that child abuse.

        January 31, 2013 at 2:03 pm |
    • Lora

      do you seriously believe your own words????

      January 31, 2013 at 1:56 pm |
    • are122

      Did your school have physics? Just curious.

      January 31, 2013 at 1:59 pm |
    • are122

      Also...if your school taught migrations of societies you would know there is no such thing as "native" Americans.

      January 31, 2013 at 2:00 pm |
  35. Bill

    The bast thing about Jeb Bush is that as a Floridian (transplanted Texan) is that we do not have to listen to him. He has no iidea what is is taking about most of the time!, ESPECIALLY in the fields of education and parent involvement OF ORDINARY PEOPLE .

    January 31, 2013 at 1:33 pm |
  36. Larry Simpson

    actually we should abandon schools as we know it now,and go all digital schooling. We would save billions of dollars,in costs to run them,and end bullying,shootings,and health related issues attached to children at schools.

    January 31, 2013 at 1:31 pm |
    • MeFromFlint

      My thoughts exactly. Mr. Bush did not address the critical elements of what our children will NOT learn if they have the advantage of bypassing traditional schools; peer pressure, classism, bullying, favoritism, etc. As has been said many times, on the internet we are only MINDS. How much we can spend on clothing, how much we weigh, our success in athletics, these things will quit being what defines our self-esteem and establishes life-long insecurities that hamper our progress and potential. I whole heartedly support virtual schools, and my children would attend.

      January 31, 2013 at 1:42 pm |
    • Lora

      I think you are right to a certain degree, but I think that face-to-face teaching is still necessary at some level. Online learning is not for everyone, but I do believe that if it is implemented correctly it can save school districts a lot of money and it can work very well with most students.

      January 31, 2013 at 1:59 pm |
  37. One thing to say

    Follow the money. Let's take a look at Jeb's stock portfolio.

    January 31, 2013 at 1:28 pm |
    • Mike

      I AGREE! I'm not saying that digital enhancements or alternatives to a traditional school are a bad idea. I actually support the increased growth and implementation of digital learning in a distance learning situation and in an on-campus setting. However with that being said I wonder why it's $7,000 plus for a traditional education and only $1,000 less for a digital education? Where is all that money going? You can't tell me that removing the cost of the buses, facilities, teacher salaries, lunches and everything associated with a traditional education should only reduce the cost by $1,000 per year? I'm a publicly educated man so maybe my math ain't too good(LOL), but that doesn't add up to me????? Yep, I'd check the portfolio of the people pushing for this and let's see where all that money would go?

      January 31, 2013 at 2:01 pm |
      • mike

        exactly, if it cost 1,500 per student that would be a lot. I'd like my district to get the cost down to the 7,800 they were talking about, we are over 10,000 now and still rand low.

        January 31, 2013 at 10:16 pm |
      • Gladdensnoot

        Online schools still require facilities and teachers, as well as a rather extensive and costly IT team.

        January 31, 2013 at 10:48 pm |
    • Cherisse

      Here ya go...
      Emails Link Bush Foundation, Corporations and Educational Officials:

      http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/answer-sheet/wp/2013/01/30/e-mails-link-bush-foundation-corporations-and-education-officials/

      February 2, 2013 at 9:43 pm |
  38. Larry Dorman

    Jeb Bush did his best to ruin the Florida School system. Jeb does not like public education. Jeb would like all charter schools and religious schools. Thank God we got rid of him. His brother George was a terrible President but he was a nice guy who believed in public education. Jeb is socially challenged and educationally whacked.

    January 31, 2013 at 1:26 pm |
  39. Mike

    He would. It is money in his pocket.

    January 31, 2013 at 1:26 pm |
  40. Jeebuus

    Yes because kids are qualified to make decisions about what education is appropriate.

    January 31, 2013 at 1:18 pm |
  41. ChiTownArt

    I understand the underlying message, but school is not just facts, figures, and computing. It the exchange of ideas through interaction. Project complete with group participation. And quite frankly, building relationships and learning conflict resolution skills. Brick and Mortar has its place. Cost should not always be a consideration. I would rather go the Louvre and see the Mona Lisa than to look at a webcam of it.

    January 31, 2013 at 1:16 pm |
    • Mike the American

      I'm actually ok with looking at the Mona Lisa online. My oldest daughter used an online school to finish her last 3 years of high school. She is actually doing better than 95% of the students at her university. And she's actually seen the Mona Lisa in the Louvre. I think I'm ok with more choices. Don't be so close minded.

      January 31, 2013 at 1:27 pm |
      • Angie

        I agree! And from what I hear, the Mona Lisa is much more impressive in photos than in person!

        January 31, 2013 at 1:30 pm |
    • Cedar Rapids

      'I would rather go the Louvre and see the Mona Lisa than to look at a webcam of it.'

      sure but when you are unable to go there then I'd rather look at a webcam of it then not see it at all.

      January 31, 2013 at 1:46 pm |
  42. Angie

    My children are offered both traditional and online classes through their public high school. So far, the online classes are wonderful! They are able to take a much wider variety of courses that are not able to be offered in person at their school. They can work at a much faster pace without the distractions of a traditional classroom.....allowing them to take extra courses to advance faster. They have regular communications and discussions with their online teachers and their online classmates. They are able to work from home on snow days or sick days. A child must be somewhat self motivated....I can see virtual school is not a fit for every student. That being said, I think it's a wonderful opportunity for low and middle class students in public schools especially to be offered a vast variety of classes taught be superior teachers (not just whoever happens to have tenure in the local school district.)

    January 31, 2013 at 1:12 pm |
  43. Valkyrie

    Bad idea, Jeb. Especially for children, social learning goes hand-in-hand (not hand-to-keyboard) with non-social learning. Take away one, the other suffers. We need to advocate for the development, improvement, and preservation of our physical schools. Put simply, there is no comparison to the real thing.

    January 31, 2013 at 1:06 pm |
    • lean6

      I live in a red state. I can't tell you how completely tired I am of having to de-program my kids from the political poison that has infiltrated the schools. America is too ignorant and unsafe for the concept of school that we know today. School is also a business and our kids are little more than bargaining chips for the unions, education boards, and even the local governments trying to cash in. Enough is enough. I would love to have my kids attend a virtual school of our choosing and use my tax dollars more effectively. Of course...the local governments will look for other ways to extort us, but at least we can remove our children from the influences of political and religious fanatics.

      January 31, 2013 at 1:15 pm |
      • Angie

        Agreed!!

        January 31, 2013 at 1:17 pm |
      • ChiTownArt

        If you truly loved your kids, you wouldn't corrupt them with your filters and biases. I have several degrees and all my instructors taught independent thought, including questioning the prevailing thought...as long as it was done with methodology and not uninformed opinion.

        January 31, 2013 at 1:20 pm |
      • lean6

        Chi, trust me...you're giving these teachers to which I'm referring more credit than they deserve. I'm the gutter political birther crowd. I have several degrees myself and a couple of decades of military service. Don't lecture me about diversity. Today's educational system and standards are undisciplined...there almost is no standard by definition.

        January 31, 2013 at 1:28 pm |
      • lean6

        I'm TALKING about the gutter birther crowd.

        January 31, 2013 at 1:31 pm |
      • Rajin Cajun

        I agree with you, lean. Traditional public schools have become a way to manipulate our children into accepting a nationwide liberal agenda while hosing local taxpayers for one out of every two local tax dollars collected. People need to wake up and realize that schools are being run by the school teachers, and for the school teachers.

        January 31, 2013 at 1:51 pm |
    • Conrad Shull

      Social learning? One of the reasons so many kids disparately want online school is because of the social dynamic of school. School could be socially difficult for some several decades ago, but today it's pure hell for far more than you can imagine. 'Mean Girls" isn't just a TV show, it's the norm in almost every public school in the country.

      January 31, 2013 at 1:23 pm |
    • Mike the American

      My oldest daughter used an online school to finish her last 3 years of high school. She is actually doing better than 95% of the students at her university and is more than socially well-adjusted. I think I'm ok with more choices. Don't be so close minded.

      January 31, 2013 at 1:29 pm |
      • Mike the American

        Let's say she does not feel the pressure to go and party with "friends" and is concentrating on her future. That is socially well adjusted. I am very proud of her.

        January 31, 2013 at 1:31 pm |
      • joe sarr

        how did you measure that she is doing %95 better?she might spend %95 of her time on a facebook!!!

        February 6, 2013 at 1:20 pm |
    • s wagner

      How's that traditional educational model working? For decades now, our kids have been ranked like 25 in math and science among industrialized nations. The violence/bullying in the schools can be awful. It looks like the entrenched union teachers and school administrators have to be dragged kicking and screaming into the future. I guess I can’t blame them. Ditch diggers felt the same way when technology (automation) replaced them too. In the end, high costs and poor measurable outcomes have led to a poor value proposition for society. Now there is a better option. Time to embrace technology and a new model and let the failure factories find themselves in ash bin of history.

      January 31, 2013 at 1:37 pm |
      • Rajin Cajun

        I promise you that if you took private schools, parochial schools, home schooling, private tutors, and magnet school kids out of the statistic, the US wouldn't make the top 100. I've been all over the world and it always astounds me how much more informed and capable the average joe in these other countries are compared to the average guy in the US. I think we do manage to outperform Afghanistan, so yeah its not all bad in our Public Shools.

        January 31, 2013 at 1:56 pm |
    • RTCO

      It is flat out BS anyone who thinks a quality education has to be taught in a brick and mortar school. I finished High School from an alternative school where we worked half of the day and did very well. Then I earned a science degree from a brick and mortar school but took many classes online including microbiology. Recently I finished my entire Respiratory Therapy degree and on my State boards I was in the 5th percentile. There are many students that will not do well in school no matter how they choose to go but options should be out there.

      January 31, 2013 at 1:53 pm |
  44. lean6

    Chicago kids need the option of virtual education, as a prime example. Solve their greedy teacher problem and deal with the threat of violence all at once.

    January 31, 2013 at 1:03 pm |
    • ChiTownArt

      All due respect, that was the most ridiculous comment I have seen on this blog today.

      January 31, 2013 at 1:23 pm |
      • lean6

        Then you apparently aren't reading what you've been posting.

        January 31, 2013 at 1:29 pm |
      • Rajin Cajun

        With all due respect, Chi, you ever been in a Chicago Public School? Neither have any building inspectors as the places crawl with vermin and are more dangerous than a Braziian night club.

        January 31, 2013 at 1:58 pm |
  45. El Flaco

    Bush' goal is to reduce state budgets for education and to dumb down the electorate.

    The less the electorate knows, the more likely they are to vote for Conservative candidates.

    January 31, 2013 at 12:59 pm |
    • joe

      This was exactly my reaction. Low information voters tend to vote Republican, so it is in the best interest of the GOP to throw a monkey wrench into the educational system every chance they get.

      January 31, 2013 at 1:08 pm |
    • Angie

      He is making Republican voters.......Virtural school choice offers wonderful classes that in my experience are more educational than traditional classes.....and truly educated people vote Republican. More virtual classes, I say.

      January 31, 2013 at 1:16 pm |
      • El Flaco

        Angie, Conservative women should be exemplars of Conservative family values.

        It would be more appropriate if you stuck to your housework and let your husband speak for your family.

        January 31, 2013 at 1:19 pm |
      • Rajin Cajun

        El Flaco is right! Conservative women, tremble in your meek little beings before the great Liberal woman!

        The LIBERAL woman has the pleasure of being able to spread her legs, get abortions on demand, let the government take care of any children she did have, sleep with her girlfriends, enjoy drugs and booze all night until she has to go home and take her regimen of AIDS medications. Not that she has anything to fear with her life devoid of values because Obama will take care of everything for her!!

        January 31, 2013 at 2:03 pm |
  46. Duke

    To be successful in a virtual school, you MUST read at a very high level. Most students who choose virtual classes, thinking they will be easier than classroom situations do not usually succede.

    January 31, 2013 at 12:50 pm |
    • CJY

      Yes – well put and I agree 100%....if easy is your goal definitely go to public school (not virtual online).

      January 31, 2013 at 1:06 pm |
      • Mike the American

        Public school is a joke. My son makes straight A's there and has no homework. How's that for public brick and mortar schools? Starting in high school, he is going to do the online classes like his sister. I vote progressive. Not all of us think the public school system is working right now. Sorry guys.

        January 31, 2013 at 1:33 pm |
      • Cedar Rapids

        'Public school is a joke. My son makes straight A's there and has no homework'

        way to insult your son. He isnt smart, the school is bad.

        January 31, 2013 at 1:49 pm |
    • robbie

      Education is a social process. In teenage psychology, education is a very social process. The psychology and the stages of learning are the same for all human beings... the start stop points of the "stages" differ. You don't have the power to fully review and accredit all education programs. So many of these programs are not for "the masses" and are not democratic or the promotion of democratic society.

      January 31, 2013 at 1:08 pm |
      • robbie

        Jeb Bush....... The Bush family in general..... yikes.... Ask yourself what this Jeb Bush education agenda motive is. I'm sure if you look close and hard you will find that politics as alot to do with it. Don't promote education being used as a political tool.

        January 31, 2013 at 1:16 pm |
    • jaitaesmom

      To be successful in a virtual school you must have a very strong support system. My child has that. She does not sit in front of a computer all day. She takes classes online but also has book work. She has hands on projects. I am there, I make sure she comprehends, I do not leave her simply to learn on her own. That would be ridiculous. Virtual schooling is not easy. It is a full time job.You have to find creative ways for your child to learn. Unlike brick and mortar schools, you have to be 100% sure your child gets it. No matter what, we, as parents are totally invested in our children getting an excellent education or we would not do this. Trust me. This is no cake walk.

      January 31, 2013 at 2:22 pm |
  47. Todd

    Not a fan of virtual school for a couple of reasons:

    1) there's always the fear that an overinvolved mom is either just straight-up doing little Dakota or Jayden's work for him, or providing so much over-the-shoulder "help" that she might as well be.

    2) when homeschooling proponents try to rebut socialization points by talking about church groups, neighborhood friends, and etc – they miss the point. Socialization is not only about learning to get along with people who are nice to you, or who are the same religion as you and have that commonality. It's often about learning how to get along and exist with people who are total jerks to you, or who have absolutely no common ground with you and you would never choose to socialize with them. Homeschooled children do not learn that, but it's part of the adult world. Your adult job is not going to be entirely composed of nice people from your church or nice people from your neighborhood who you like being around. Work is full of jerks! You gotta learn how to deal.

    Cyber-schooling s a good option for kids who can't go to school for some reason (i.e disability or illness) but otherwise? Get your butt off the couch and go to school, kiddo.

    January 31, 2013 at 12:48 pm |
    • LOLOL

      Took the comment right out of my fingers.

      January 31, 2013 at 12:57 pm |
    • Can You Listen?

      Trust me, subscribing to Bible-based principles and living in this world, home-educated students will have plenty of opportunity to meet people who will be less than civil to them. (If there are negative responses to my comment here -it proves my point).

      January 31, 2013 at 1:12 pm |
      • Cedar Rapids

        '(If there are negative responses to my comment here -it proves my point).'

        actually, disagreeing with you isnt by itself an uncivil act.

        January 31, 2013 at 1:51 pm |
    • Not a Scholar

      Spot on response!! May I add that when in a school environment and trying to come to a conclusion you learn a lot by listening to people that may view things a little or a lot different than you. It gives you a broader perspective. I have met many home schooled children. They are, for the most part, great kids. Some are home schooled because of behavioral issues like ADHD etc. But most are very naive and don't fit in when in a social situation.

      January 31, 2013 at 1:55 pm |
  48. clinky

    Jeb's slant against the middle class is thinly veiled here. Yes, virtual schools are a lot better than nothing for people impaired from going to schools and sitting in with classmates. But nothing replaces the live experience of attending class in front of a teacher and interacting beside students together in asking questions. By proposing one type of schooling is just as good as the other, Jeb is suggesting we do away with standing public schools, save on maintenance costs etc., sack a lot of educators, and call virtual schools where you sit at home isolated from fellow learners a "public education." When you are sitting in a classroom, there is a great benefit of spontaneity. Fellow students who voice questions and opinions help you to sharpen your own. There can be some productive signalling between students to both challenge and assist each other during discussion periods, and it comes naturally. Jeb wants to slough off an inferior education on the middle class, thus holding them back from getting ahead in adulthood, and let the rich who can pay for private schools gain superior education and thus acquire EVEN MORE TOTAL CONTROL over the marketplace of jobs than they already have.

    January 31, 2013 at 12:44 pm |
    • Scott

      If a child passes his curriculum tests with flying colors, what does it matter if he interacts socially? Is the point of school to teach our kids academics, or is there something I missed? If social interaction is integral to schooling, why isn't it tested for, or gauged in any way?

      January 31, 2013 at 12:58 pm |
    • Scott

      Also, I don't think you grasp the concept of what public means in "public education".

      If you're trying to convince someone of your point, try avoiding conspiracy theories at the ends of your posts.

      January 31, 2013 at 1:02 pm |
    • Angie

      All of the positives you cite for the classroom can also go on through digital classes. My children are offered both traditional and online classes at their public middle and high schools and much prefer the online classes. There are lots of questions and answers and online discussion between students....it's not just read and answer questions in a secluded part of the web....it's actually a virtual classroom, with far superior teachers than they could get in person.

      January 31, 2013 at 1:03 pm |
    • Liza T

      The only people who can be truly against virtual schools are people who know nothing about them.

      I am a liberal, affluent Democrat. I am a product of public schools–and I support them still. But both of my children go(went) to virtual high school. The older child went for health reasons, just as the child referenced in Jeb Bush's article. We immediately switched our younger child to virtual school. Why? Because it is *far superior* to anything we had experienced prior–and we lived in one of the (reportedly) best public school systems in the nation.

      It does indeed require parental involvement. That is how I can be intimately knowledgeable about just how good the coursework and assignments are. I get to read the interactions between my kids and their online teachers. My kids know more, learn more, and retain more because they attend a virtual school. We have to be intentional about social interaction... but that's not a problem either.

      There is, actually, a non-trivial dropout rate from online courses. THe number one reason stated by the kids? It is too hard. Classroom is easier.

      This may be the only time in my entire life that I have agreed with a public figure with the last name Bush–but I do.

      January 31, 2013 at 1:06 pm |
      • Angie

        Haha! And this may be the first time in my life that I agree with a Democrat......but I do! My children love their virtual classes....and are able to learn at a faster pace without all the distractions that they have in their regular traditional classes.

        January 31, 2013 at 1:20 pm |
  49. Jeremy

    I don't think that "for-profit" is necessarily evil, nor that charter schools are necessarily code words for white christian schools. I must admit, however, a bit of skeptisism with virtual schools being a good choice for just anyone. When there are good reasons it is great, but I worry about the negatives if it is over-indulged. While I admit this is anecdotal, most people I have known that were home-schooled had noticeably less social skills then traditionally schooled people. I find it odd that the same people who would bemoan how much time kids spend on computers (facebook etc.) rather than playing with other kids in the neighborhood would be the biggest supporters of removing kids from school and plopping them in front of a computer to learn. Maybe I'm off here, but I have a feeling there would be a strong correllation.

    My other concern would be (long-term) that states would find that virtual schools save money and what would now simply be a choice, would be pushed to the point where there are significant financial incentives to use virtual schools over others, regardless of whether its actually better for your child.

    January 31, 2013 at 12:43 pm |
  50. David

    Online education is fine for kids with major physical problems that prevent them from attending a traditional school.

    But other than that, the push for online education is either driven by extreme naivete or an utter breakdown of the social compact. For Jeb to use extreme examples to push the anti-public education agenda is predictably sleazy.

    People that think there are no consequences of our unwillingness to invest in education are delusional. Online education is a totally dystopian nightmare and our technocrazy civilization is going to totally implode if we don't appreciate the continued importance of face-to-face interaction.

    Where is Guy Montag?

    January 31, 2013 at 12:42 pm |
    • Hope and Change for Education

      @David Truthfully, do you actually have kids in a public school (middle or high school)? Or are you a stakeholder invested in the school status quo (i.e., teacher/school adminstrator)?
      If you are a parent with kids in a public school, please let us know the name of your school becasue we all want to send our kids there. Your experience is so different from ours.

      January 31, 2013 at 1:56 pm |
  51. Gold Finger

    Rick Perry wants to make this a mainstay of Texas education. Apparently he and his friends are invested in companies that would be brought in to apply it if adopted by the state. No one in the state's current education system below the upper state level see this as an option. Anything that has been remotely successful has been ISD or university made as a distance learning system.

    January 31, 2013 at 12:34 pm |
  52. humtake

    Actually, this is an awesome idea for so many reasons.

    Above them all, imo, is that it gets rid of the responsibility of a kid actually paying attention and doing their work from the teacher. The parents will once again have to actually be parents (which is probably why most Liberal parents will vote against something like this) and sit their kids down during the day to do their work.

    School is for learning how to learn. A person only gets out of school what they choose to get out of it. And this type of learning is perfect for most kids these days who never learn how to learn because they are too busy socializing or being cool. Get rid of that aspect of it and you may have more kids actually learn.

    January 31, 2013 at 12:32 pm |
    • Jim

      "...School is for learning how to learn. A person only gets out of school what they choose to get out of it..." That is the most ignorant thing I have read...Going to school is to GET an education not "learn" how to get one. I don't ever remember my parents asking me if I wanted to go to school, it was requried so to say "I get what I choose" imakes no sense. I highly doubt you at the mature age of 10 were thinking the vomit you posted.

      January 31, 2013 at 1:17 pm |
  53. anonymous

    1) In my experiance with the "digital" class room....Often teachers are non-existant, the E-books are rubbish (ened up buying the paper back as its easier to navigate) and the avalible course material is prone to IT related failures.

    2) No everyone has access to a computer system capable of running the online materials. (This includes many of the schools)

    3) I do hope that Jeb is enjoying the kick backs for his endorsement.

    -Hey Jeb Bush, there is no way in hell that I'd ever vote you or any other member of your corrupt family into office.

    January 31, 2013 at 12:25 pm |
    • humtake

      Then I guess you never vote if corruption is part of your criteria.

      January 31, 2013 at 12:33 pm |
      • anonymous

        Yes and no.... There is always the lessor of two evils and which is often the case in any election.

        January 31, 2013 at 12:39 pm |
    • MeFromFlint

      I see that some folks can't temper their comments without their personal disdain for the Bush name getting involved. I am a University of Michigan senior, and 45 years old. I have had both kinds of eduction. You are just uninformed. In the years I've been attending college I've had eight online courses. I have NEVER had an IT failure that lasted more than an hour or two, and NEVER when it mattered. Furthermore, most cable companies offer virtually free internet for low income homes that have never had it. I believe it's Comcast in my area that offers a low process computer for 100 and internet only service for 20 bucks a month. I don't recall the specifics. Nonetheless, the online process has been nearly perfected.

      January 31, 2013 at 1:51 pm |
      • Marie

        Not to mention most online schools will loan you the computer, printer, and other materials, and many even either provide internet services or reimburse you for high speed internet. So your complaint holds no weight. I attended college online and one of my kids has been in an online school for the last three years, two different ones and we NEVER had the experiences you describe. Perhaps you just need a different school. Like brick and mortar ones, there are some bad online schools i would imagine.

        February 2, 2013 at 12:30 pm |
  54. gclaheh

    I actually think that this is a wonderful idea. Online schools are the way of the future and really should be given some consideration to reduce school costs. I totally agree with the author when he suggests that parents should be able to have this choice for their children's school. The students would be better educated because online schools focus more on the individual than the group. Honestly, when my daughter is 14 years old, I will allow her to choose between an online school or a traditional school.

    There were comments about how homeschoolers were not prepared to deal with the real world because they haven't learned to socialize with others. I would like to remind these bloggers that just because one goes to a public school doesn't mean that they are going to be socialized. Popular and even not-so-popular kids learn to socialize, while bullied children learn how not to get bullied rather than socializing with others. There was one comment on here that homeschoolers do poorly in the army. The army isn't for everyone, while there are jobs that are very structured there are also jobs where one must be self-motivated. My sales job is like that; my manager doesn't watch over me or check on me to make sure that I am making sales calls. Perhaps the homeschooled adults who are kicked out of the army would do better in a sales job.

    I do agree that socialization is something parents do need to consider if they would like to do online school/homeschool their kids. If they have the opportunity to enroll their child in a social club should do it.

    January 31, 2013 at 12:25 pm |
  55. ricobanidto

    I am a progressive voter and a strong supporter of the concept of a quality public educational system. My child attends a magnet high school that has been ranked in the top 100 high schools in US News and World Report. That being said, we are mere days away from pulling her from the school and educating her at home utilizing a virtual public high school. We find that each of her teachers are either overworked, under-qualified, disinterested, incapable, or some combination of all of these. We are not longer willing to let her waste her time in a failed educational system. Between her 2 hours on the bus each day, 5-10 minutes of instruction per class because of classroom management and discipline issues from other students, teacher bias, inconsistent grading and reporting policies, and repeatedly lost work, we feel we can better manage her education, requiring less "sit" time in class and allow here to fulling embrace opportunities beyond the classroom. Since not all of these virtual classes are free, I would fully support getting some of the tax dollars were spend to support our educational funding since the social contract with public education is not being addressed.

    January 31, 2013 at 12:25 pm |
    • Duke

      You have a long list of complaints. I find it VERY hard to believe that a so-called Top 100 school would be such, if they had every single one of the complaints you list. I have to question whether the rsnking is invalid or perhaps you are exaggerating the problems for the sake of making your point.

      January 31, 2013 at 12:47 pm |
      • Angie

        Yes....these problems are real and widespread. My children attend a public high school with the "School of Excellence" rank and still these problems exist. They are, however, offered virtual classes and choose to take them over the traditional classes whenever possible. Virtual teachers are much more qualified for the specific course they teach. Students have daily online and weekly phone or webcam interaction with their instructors and fellow students. They can work at a much faster pace....without all of the "drama", as my daughter puts it, that takes place in other classes. We have had nothing but positive experiences with virtual classes!

        January 31, 2013 at 2:50 pm |
  56. Amy

    Are we really listening to Jeb Bush on education? I hope not. This is just another way to take a huge bite out of public education and reduce opportunities for children. In addition, public education is a way to maintain the health and safety of children in some cases. That would go out the window along with quality education for people who can't afford private schools.

    January 31, 2013 at 12:25 pm |
    • anonymous

      The digital home schooling is just a politically correct way of bringing back segregation while milking the education coffers for all their worth.

      While I'm not in any way a supporter of the social experament we call "public education", I can definetly see the lines (socal / demographic classes) in our society being redrawn on-line.

      January 31, 2013 at 12:37 pm |
      • MeFromFlint

        Segregation? What? No, it's not. It's offering a CHOICE, not a requirement. If your kid is not doing well in public schools, at least they have the opportunity to learn at home, rather than just fail in a traditional classroom.

        Some of you folks turning this into a discussion on Jeb Bush need to just log off. This is our children we're talking about, our future. Leave your personal bias at the door. We don't have time for your drama with this much at stake.

        January 31, 2013 at 1:54 pm |
  57. Helaina Hinson

    The old, tired adage that "Kids will lack social skills...." if homeschooled or schooled online is preached by administrators who fear loss of funding. Our kids have PLENTY of socialization today. Online and homeschooling protect the kids from school violence, bullying and a disruptive environment that IMPEDES the learning process rather than improves it.

    Modern children experience far more peer contact through after-school time, church, online social groups and just hanging out at the mall than they ever will in school. Recess has been done away with, and the only times the kids can interact is between classes or at lunch. Teachers do their best to break up "best friends" and groups of friends!

    Take them out of public school and let them learn to THINK instead of how to take tests.

    January 31, 2013 at 12:21 pm |
    • Jim

      You my friend are an idiot!

      January 31, 2013 at 1:25 pm |
      • MeFromFlint

        That's the best you've got, Jim? Really? Name calling? I wonder where you were on the social tree in school. Bet I can guess.

        January 31, 2013 at 1:57 pm |
    • truechoice

      Helaina I went to a public school, my children went to a public school, I worked at public schools, my kids took extra curricular activities in public schools. There were no gangs. Harassment was dealt with promptly. I do not think there is anything wrong with online schooling but you make public schools sound like a war zone. The majority of public schools are great places of learning.

      February 1, 2013 at 12:08 am |
  58. rosie

    Our university is using 'distance education' or 'virtual classrooms' to very good effect in getting information to people that have a hard time meeting a rigid class schedule due to work and distance from campus. Adults do very well in these courses (we even had a student in Antarctica take some courses during the winter down there when he could not go outside). As for young children I am not sure that virtual education is going to work for a large number of people. The lack of social skills that home schooling instills is a troubling problem. I have known several people that home schooled their children. The ones that seems to do the 'best' were ones where the parent made the children participate in after school activities with other children (church, YMCA, after school programs for virtual students (there are a few where parents take turns carpooling at home kids to events), etc). Those that sheltered the children ended up with more introverted children that had a hard time with people. It is very hard to know what is right but I would say that if you do home school you need to make sure your child gets out and plays and interacts with others his/her own age each day. Scouting or Y programs are great for that. Many churches run after school functions. Sports teams for young people are another way for children to learn interaction skills. Think about those for your child and use them to augment their online learning and you may find that they excel it both situations.

    January 31, 2013 at 12:18 pm |
  59. Kat

    Charter schools are not for "white Christians" as you say. My son attends a Charter School and we are agnostic. His class has many kids from many different types of backgrounds including Eastern Indian, African American, Jamaican. His school is also very diverse. I chose a Charter School because it is free from some of the same rules and bureaucracy that regular public schools have. He gets a wonderful education. Don't knock the Charter Schools!!

    January 31, 2013 at 12:14 pm |
  60. MQ

    I teach college, both conventional lecture and online.

    College is going to teach you only two things:

    1) how to learn
    2) how to think.

    A few students, about 20-30% can learn the first online. No one can learn the second from an online class. Bush is a good example of someone on whom college apparently failed on the second point since he never grasped the reason for a college education at all.

    The world and especially this nation are facing very serious problems. Listen to any politician and you'll see that they've never learned to think. Until a fair fraction of this country learns to actually think, we're screwed.

    January 31, 2013 at 12:13 pm |
    • OrionStyles

      This is more damning of the educational system in the US than it is of "kids can't learn to learn"

      Glen Doman
      Win Wenger

      Their stuff has been around for awhile and blows the doors off of "traditional education" which has become nothing more than daycare and drone worker indoctrination while both parents work.

      January 31, 2013 at 12:18 pm |
    • Marcella

      I am a college professor as well. It troubles me that you speak in terms of absolutes. Online learning does provide a means for developing a learner's critical thinking skills. Note that I didn't say "teach how to think." No matter what the environment is: blended, f2f, bricks and mortar . . .no instructor can "teach" a learner how to think. They can only provide opportunities to develop critical thinking.

      January 31, 2013 at 12:24 pm |
  61. Will Bresch

    Not too long ago, wasn't Jeb Bush the same person who Rigged the Presidential Election and also made back ally deals with the Muslims. is this not the same Jeb Bush whose Father Murdered Miami Police officers and Metro Dade police officers to martian his Drug Empire. Now all of a Sudden Jeb Bush is the Savior .Wake Up People this man is Poison to your Kids....

    January 31, 2013 at 12:10 pm |
    • OrionStyles

      Yeah, but that doesn't mean you have to disagree on his ideas that you think are right.

      January 31, 2013 at 12:20 pm |
  62. clarke

    I feel it is a great way to get an education, if you are not able to attend regular school.

    January 31, 2013 at 12:04 pm |
  63. cj

    The social experience in a healthy school system is an important aspect of adolescent development...however there are an ever shrinking number of schools that would be placed into that group. I'm not even pointing at the teachers here. Its the bureaucracy and laws and economics that created this down hill slide and I'm not sure what can reverse course.

    An online at home option though will at least give those kids with high aspirations that are in a poor system a chance to not just survive but thrive. however, at home education only works when the student is self motivated. Students that opt for this and are not dedicated will fail miserably.

    January 31, 2013 at 11:57 am |
  64. Adam Y.

    What Jeb Bush is not disclosing is that he is a lobbyist for this up and coming area of teaching, and how much he was paid by these companies who either started virtual teaching or have some connection with this area of teaching. If he had spoken honestly about virtual teaching, from his experience and from positive experience of others, than it is a beneficial tool for the American society. However, when he is paid to express an opinion, whether it's his or not, than it's a business advertisement. He needs to disclose that he is a lobbyist for this industry.

    January 31, 2013 at 11:56 am |
    • sahara0421

      Is that really true, Adam? How do you know that? I disagree that opinions and positions can only come from those with direct experience (ie University professors are often only academic and theoretical with little practical experience in their field but we count them as experts). However, with the goal of transparency, Mr. Bush absolutely should have been up front about his potential for bias...that his opinioni s a paid opinion.

      January 31, 2013 at 12:21 pm |
  65. Christine

    Due to extreme bullying and death threats, my daughter would not have made it through high school without "digital schooling." It used to be that people condemned home schooling for fear of lack of "socializing." The socializing that takes place today is too scary for words. No more babysitting by teachers. No more schools being "shot-up." Digital schools will become mainstream, I believe sooner than later.

    January 31, 2013 at 11:56 am |
    • RealityChk101

      Excellent response. Agree 100%

      January 31, 2013 at 12:04 pm |
  66. SherWand

    I believe that for people such as the Fair sisters and those who for family reasons or other could not otherwise go to school, virtual schools are a wonderful idea and well worth expanding. However, for those who can attend school and choose virtual schooling or parents who choose to home school, these alternatives could be a hinderance unless steps are taken to insure that our children obtain a social education as well. No only do schools provide education, they also provide social interaction. We learn manners, problem solving and how to work as a team with others of different races, religions and backgrounds than our own. This is a vital part of our education.

    January 31, 2013 at 11:56 am |
    • RealityChk101

      "...these alternatives could be a hinderance unless steps are taken to insure that our children obtain a social education as well."
      And that "social education" should be the responsibility of the parents – they should decide and have control over the social environment that their children are raised in. Virtual learning can incorporate most, if not all, of the points you hit upon. For example, cooperative online team efforts are very common in academic, business, and even social settings. Online education should be greatly expanded, and it should be inexpensive.

      January 31, 2013 at 12:24 pm |
  67. buba

    I HAVE NO PROBLEM WITH THIS AS LONG AS EVERYONE HAS ACCESS. WE HAVE SCHOOLS WHERE I LIVE THAT ARE CHOICE SCHOOLS FUNDED BY PUBLIC TAX PAYER DOLLARS BUT IS RUN LIKE A PRIVATE CHARTER SCHOOL WHERE THEY CAN PICK AND CHOOSE WHICH KIDS THEY WANT TO TEACH AND ONLY ALLOW A SPECIFIED # OF KIDS IN EACH YEAR AND PROVIDE PRIORITY SPECIAL TREATMENT FOR SIBLINGS OF CURRENT STUDENTS TO BE ALLOWED TO ATTEND. THIS IS WRONG AND IT'S IN JEB'S CURRENT HOME STATE OF FLORIDA. HE'S DONE SOME GOOD THINGS FOR EDUCATION IN THIS STATE BUT THIS ONE ISN'T ONE OF THEM ESPECIALLY WHEN THEY NOW WANT TO START CLOSING PUBLIC SCHOOLS DUE TO LACK OF FUNDING AND LEAVE THESE SPECIAL SCHOOLS OPEN THAT ONLY A SMALL % HAVE ACCESS TO AND MOST OF THESE KIDS ARE BEING BUSED TO THESE SCHOOLS 20-30 MILES AWAY WHEN THERE IS AN A RATED SCHOOL WITHING 5-10 MILES OF WHERE THEY LIVE.

    January 31, 2013 at 11:52 am |
    • sillymonkey

      Stop yelling please.

      January 31, 2013 at 11:55 am |
    • truechoice

      Transportation costs take away from teaching costs. distance must be considered...that is why I say do a mix of both virtual and brick and mortar schooling. a few days a week in each with classes relegated by subject. You get the best of both worlds: monitored testing, adequate socializing, work at your own pace, work at a scheduled pace, lack of disruptions while reading or following an online lecture, interaction and team skills while working together in the science lab or band class. Teachers teach both.

      February 1, 2013 at 12:21 am |
  68. zb10

    the unions are gonna love this! seriously, though, if online education reduces costs, increases availability and convenience, and teaches kids the skills that they need, then i'm in favor.

    January 31, 2013 at 11:41 am |
    • bwhitten

      The rub is in the last of your list "the skills they need". I highly doubt that getting an education strictly from a computer will develop the social skills needed. And if that is the case, the money is wasted. I have to wonder what is Jeb getting from this type of business because with the Bush's that is what it is all about: How can I profit from this?

      January 31, 2013 at 11:49 am |
      • Edwardo

        have you been in some public schools lately? The socail skills needed are how to avoid the drugs, how to not get assulted in the halls, ...

        How to to learn, how to think critically, and some actual knowledge come far down the list. A week or two at a pseudo boot camp could teach the survival skills. Also note that real adult servival skills, like how to balance a check book, how not to get a mortgage that you can't afford, how to get a job, or how to keep learning so you stay productive (or even why you should care if you stay productive) are not included.

        January 31, 2013 at 12:05 pm |
      • Lydia

        The virtual program my kids were in, included field trips, class parties, group opportunity for the theater, museums, etc. Like most schools, they hung out with the kids that lived closest to them. They also have friends that attended traditional school, friends from church and of course their "computer" friends. Socializing, like most things in kids lives, boils down to how involved the parents are willing to be.

        January 31, 2013 at 12:20 pm |
      • RealityChk101

        Edwuado and Lydia nailed it. And "social education" should be the responsibility of the parents – they should decide and have control over the social environment that their children are raised in. Online education should be greatly expanded, and it should be inexpensive.

        January 31, 2013 at 12:28 pm |
    • sillymonkey

      I think you might be misunderstanding the amount of education people get in a true school. The social aspects are of equal and often greater value than the information that is conveyed in a classroom. The kids are exposed to a wide variety of individuals, from many backgrounds, and the public schools are truly a great part of the melting pot that made our nation great. If the state school systems allow for this to save money, great, but the lack of socialization these kids will end up being a huge detriment to society in the long run, and probably have greater overall cost than schooling them.

      January 31, 2013 at 11:52 am |
      • Tracy

        From my experience, the social aspects of middle and high school have to be largely un-learned when entering the real world. I think homeschoolers are giving their children a social foundation based on family, and that's not a bad thing. Most homeschooled kids do extracurriculars or meet with others for tutoring sessions or field trips. I think that provides the positive interaction without bullying and mean girls making them cry in the bathroom.

        January 31, 2013 at 12:00 pm |
      • rosie

        You seem to believe that kids are all buddy buddy in school and have a great time socializing with other kids. That is far from the case. Many children dread school BECAUSE of the social interactions are so negative. That is a sad truth of public school. I had a good time in school and still did not mingle with very many other students. I got more social interaction from working outside school than I ever did in school.

        January 31, 2013 at 12:08 pm |
      • sahara0421

        I think there is a real opportunity to enlist community organizations for the socialization aspect that schools soart of provide today. Churches, community centres, Boys and Girls Clubs, Scout and Girl Guide organizations, community based sports programs and so on. There is a huge infrastructure that exists and could be incorporated and better utilized. Then teachers can teach and the community can look after building the community.

        January 31, 2013 at 12:27 pm |
  69. Samuel Smolinisky

    The Bush Regime has done a lot of damage to this country in the past 40 years. He should, Jed Bush should practice politics from home infront if the TV and computer like he recommends now to students. His family put us into wars like Panama, Nicaagua, and Iraq. Lives here and abroad have forever been destroyed because of his families pursuit of wealth. Take a back seat Jed. Don't encourage the youth to not go to a school. I encourage you to get out of politics instead.

    January 31, 2013 at 11:30 am |
    • 4JULY1776

      Meanwhile Barack Hussein Obama has racked up a world-record $6 trillion in new debt in just 4 years and is on track to take the national debt to over $20 trillion by the time he leaves office.

      News flash....the war in Iraq is over, but the Dems are still racking up $1 trillion deficits EACH budget year. So NOW what is their excuse?

      January 31, 2013 at 11:43 am |
      • bwhitten

        Still paying for the previous mess left behind. You don't fix a house overnight. Unless it is the single-wide you live in.

        January 31, 2013 at 11:46 am |
      • The Butcher

        Give it a rest, Fox News is that way -->

        January 31, 2013 at 11:51 am |
      • Wow

        The president racked up that debt? Or you are blaming the president for the debt racked up by the U.S. of America and with the management of said debt controlled by Congress? Funny how President Obama is to blame. From the sound of your comment, you imply that his pockets are full of cash.

        January 31, 2013 at 12:19 pm |
    • 4JULY1776

      bwhitten.....no, actually it was the Dems who destroyed the housing market through a handout program called CRA or Community Reinvestment Act which FORCED banks to make stupid loans to unqualified people.
      P.S.: You're also wrong about the trailer....I actually own several homes, that I worked for and paid for with my own money, not taxpayer handouts.

      January 31, 2013 at 11:53 am |
    • Edwardo

      Check your arithmetic! "... in the past 40 years" Where does the 40 years come from? Bush the elder was elected in '89. Last time I checked, 2013 – 1989 was 24, NOT 40. Also there were more than a few years when some one else was in the White House during that time. Are you saying that Bush had more influence that Clinton, even during Clinton's presidency?

      January 31, 2013 at 12:15 pm |
  70. farmerjeani

    Being a resident of Nevada with grandchildren in both the regular school system and the online system, I know from first hand experience how both of these perform. My youngest grandchildren, ages 6 and 8 are enrolled in the Virtual Academy. They live 70 miles from the nearest town. That means they would be in transit to school and home for almost 4 hours daily. The oldest child did attend kindergarten three days a week, but the cost in time and money was brutal. So the virtual academy was a lifesaver. However, their mother is both devoted and diligent, and while there are many wonderful and dedicated school teachers in my state, there is just no comparison between the education they receive at home and what they would receive in public school. They get 100% of the material presented. They get all the time they need to understand every lesson. The class doesn't 'move on' without them. The lessons are more comprehensive than in public school, there are no distractions, there is no pressure to 'have' or 'be' like the other children. Some of my other grandchildren have done very well in the public high schools, others haven't. Like schools everywhere there are drugs, gangs, violence and bullying. There are also sports, music, social activities and excellence. But having witnessed both systems first hand, those that condemn the online programs are way off base. If a parent or other adult is there to work with children until they are self motivated, the online school offers an exceptional education. The point is not either or, the point is choice.

    January 31, 2013 at 11:17 am |
    • Larry L

      I had the opportunity to serve for years as the "Principal" of a military training facility providing advanced individual training to Soldiers just out of basic training – most were recent high school graduates. We kept careful records and spent considerable time working to prevent failure for any reason – academic or otherwise. Through the years it became quite apparent the students educated in home schooling programs were far more likely to fail (10X) than those schooled in traditional schools. Further investigation determined the reasons for failure linked more to behavior than academic capability. The home-schooled student lacked social skills – unable to adroitly manage the social interactions with both students and faculty. They were often unable to discipline themselves to complete structured tasks and many had a low regard for our training schedule – as if the military training was subject to their whims and momentary preferences. It makes m e wonder how many home-schooled kids adapt well to employment where punctuality, socialization, and performance metrics are determined by others.

      January 31, 2013 at 11:42 am |
      • GHM

        This is a very informative data. Is there any way you can publish it as a paper and present it?

        January 31, 2013 at 11:55 am |
      • truechoice

        You are right. students home schooled have an open schedule which may work for them academically but hurts them socially. My daughter, a computer engineer, was asked to coach an intern that had been home schooled. She said he was admitted to a top engineering college but was really behind socially.

        January 31, 2013 at 11:46 pm |
    • truechoice

      Well said.There are positives and negatives to both options. One is not better or worse than the other.

      January 31, 2013 at 11:37 pm |
  71. Cindy

    I don't believe that is what the Governor was saying at all. He essentially said that online learning may be the best solution for some students, not all. I have chosen to home school my son thru a virtual school here in Kansas. The virtual school is a part of the public school district. They have teachers that you can talk to, that meet with the children via online classes and are available to help tutor and teach your child if the need arises. The teachers are there to offer advice, there are also an abundance of extracurricular activities for my son to take part in.

    My son has ADHD and a reading disability. I did feel the school district he was in previously was leaving him behind. They honestly did not want to do their jobs. I took my son to see a specialist in learning disabilities and have him evaluated at cost to myself to prove to the school he did have a reading disability. That, coupled with his ADHD, should have qualified him for an IEP......The school tried to say iit wasn't enough. It was all behavioral, it was not a learning disability despite having a medical report from a licensed psychologist specializing in learning disabilities. Yes we could have appealed the schools decision but they essentially told us there was nothing they could do for him because he wasn't two years behind yet.....He was in second grade at the time. I am not sure how the school reasonably expected him to be two years behind. But he was falling behind.

    In the end we decided it would be better for our family and our son to explore other options. We looked at other brick and mortar school districts, we looked at private schooling, and virtual schools. We chose the virtual school thru the public school district. It has been the best decision I have ever made for my son. He is no longer made to feel stupid if he can't read like the other kids, he isn't made to feel "bad" because he can't always sit still. he isn't punished for wanting to do things a little differently. He is a happier little boy and enjoys learning now. The teacher assigned to him has bent over backwards to help with his reading. He is in a virtual phonics and reading class that the teacher leads with other online students with similar problems. She has even helped to change his curriculum to help improve his reading.

    Last night he finished a book. The first book he has ever read on his own because he is starting to enjoy reading and made to feel less than what he is because he has a harder time reading than the majority of other kids. So yes, I feel it has been the best decision I could have made and I would make it again in a heart beat.

    January 31, 2013 at 10:32 am |
    • Kemal

      Congratulations to your son and kudos to you for supporting his learning so effectively!

      January 31, 2013 at 11:37 am |
    • Andrea

      That is awesome Cindy! I agree, virtual school isn't for everyone, but it is what some kids need and it allows them to succeed far more that the traditional classroom.

      January 31, 2013 at 12:16 pm |
    • sahara0421

      I'm glad you found a solution that works for your son while still being fiscally responsible to tax payers. I feel for your situation but I have never understood why accommodations for special needs children falls to taxpayers to pay for. If your child needs an in class room aide, why is it up to me as a taxpayer to have to pay for that? I have enough on my plate to get my kid books, gym shoes, and other supplies. It's the same with kids that want to do senior year twice to improve their grades. Why are taxpayers paying for kids to do it twice?

      January 31, 2013 at 12:49 pm |
  72. The Real Tom Paine

    Bush makes a compelling case for an alternative route for kids and families, especially those with a special need. New York has been a leader for decades in providing alternatives to traditional education, especially at the University level: this is an encouraging development, provided kids still meet the standards in their respective states.

    January 31, 2013 at 10:20 am |
  73. Mary Leonhardt

    It’s hard to know where to start with this editorial by Governor Bush.

    First, and most importantly, Kaleigh’s choice was not one of an on-line academy or no school. She is protected both by the federal special ed. law, as well as the American for Disabilities Act. Her school district was required to provide services for her.

    My hope is that this on-line learning was coordinated by the school district, so she had access to support systems (i.e. tutors, guidance counselors etc.) While I was teaching I often worked with students who could not physically attend school. I visited them, we used tutors, and we e-mailed. I visited kids at their home, in hospitals, and once in a prison. Sometimes we became very close.

    The online learning is a nice addition, but surely Governor Bush is not suggesting that high school kids, esp. those with serious medical problems, are better off taking on-line courses by themselves, with no help, from some private, out-of-state for-profit academy than they are staying within the umbrella of their local schools, where they can get a full range of services.

    I am not against students having choice, but I don’t like how this editorial makes it sound like her local school district was simply walking away from her, and this private academy came galloping to the rescue. I’ve taught for too long, in too many schools, to believe it happened like that.

    http://teachloveofreading.blogspot.com/

    January 31, 2013 at 9:00 am |
    • HenryMiller

      "...are better off taking on-line courses by themselves, with no help, from some private, out-of-state for-profit academy..."

      And we all know that "for-profit" is, by definition, incompetent and evil, right?

      I can hear the teachers' unions now, gearing up for a scream of rage and marshalling every objection they can conjure up as to why anything other than the presently failing system would be a disaster for the country. And, of course, Democratic politicians will be joining in the scream–can't let that lovely source of "contributions" from their friends at the teachers' unions dry up.

      January 31, 2013 at 10:33 am |
      • Larry L

        Any mention of education from Republicans invariably leads to some new plan to funnel public school monies into church schools. The term "charter schools" is essentially conservative code for "tax money to private schools for white Christians". However, this essay by Jeb Bush looks like a sincere attempt to help solve one of society's problems – delivering education to certain people with special needs. It could be Jeb just isn't mean and narrow-minded enough to be a modern conservative – certainly not in Florida...

        January 31, 2013 at 11:22 am |
      • Anomic Office Drone

        "And we all know that "for-profit" is, by definition, incompetent and evil, right?"

        No. Only puppet partisans like yourself paint with such broad brushes.

        What we all do know, at least those of us who have taken the time to actually research for-profit schools, is that enough of them are bad for there to be a need to be skeptical of all of them.

        January 31, 2013 at 1:58 pm |
    • Lydia

      I have 5 kids. Two have always attended public school, 3 have attended virtual schools for varying lengths of time for different reasons, all are in public school now, their choice. My previous "virtual" kids have commented several times that they learned far more at home, but like the social aspect of attending public school, which is also a very important part of growing up. If you are going to try an online school, I suggest you pick one that is a part of the public school system. The teachers, curriculum, class room sizes, etc. really are superior to what I have seen in the public schools and all state testing is done and supervised by the school system But, virtual schooling requires an incredible amount of parent involvement. Be prepared to dedicate a tremendous amount of time mentoring, teaching and encouraging your child. I treated it as a full time job, if you do not have the time to devote to being your child's full time teacher, they are probably better off in a traditional school setting.

      January 31, 2013 at 12:07 pm |