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.


CNN Profiles: The teacher in the one world schoolhouse
Salman Khan, founder of the Khan Academy, says he wants to have a global impact on education.
November 19th, 2012
02:06 PM ET

CNN Profiles: The teacher in the one world schoolhouse

by Michael Schulder, CNN

Follow on Twitter: @Schuldercnn

(CNN) – This is the time in the school year when parents really have a sense of whether their children are struggling academically.

For those parents whose children are having a hard time with math, and are seeking help, one name seems to be popping up more and more: Salman Khan.

Each month, 7 million children and adults log on to Sal Khan’s website, the Khan Academy, to get clear, entertaining, informal video tutorials on everything from basic addition to advanced calculus and more.

So who is Sal Khan? Where does he get his credibility?

Is it from the three degrees he earned from MIT or the Masters he received from Harvard after being raised by a single mother who struggled to make ends meet?

Is it from the raves he gets from Bill Gates who uses Khan’s online videos for his own children?

Read the full story and hear the podcast from CNN Radio.
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Filed under: At Home • Salman Khan • Technology
October 4th, 2012
11:01 AM ET

My View: The future of credentials

Courtesy Brad SwonetzBy Salman Khan, Special to CNN

Editor’s note: Salman Khan is the founder of Khan Academy, a not-for-profit educational organization whose mission is “to provide a free, world-class education to anyone, anywhere.” Khan is the author of “The One World Schoolhouse: Education Reimagined” (Twelve).

(CNN) - When people talk about education, they are usually mixing together several ideas. The first is the idea of learning. The second is the idea of socialization. The third is the idea of credentialing - giving a piece of paper to someone that proves to the world that he or she knows what they know. These three different aspects of education are muddled together because today they are all performed by the same institutions - you go to college to learn, have a life experience and get a degree.

Let’s try a simple thought experiment: What if we were to separate the teaching and credentialing roles of universities? What would happen if regardless of where (or whether) you went to college, you could take rigorous, internationally recognized assessments that measured your understanding and proficiency in various fields - anything from art history to software engineering.

With our hypothetical assessments - microcredentials, if you will - people could prove that they know just as much in a specific domain as those with an exclusive diploma. Even more, they wouldn’t have had to go into debt and attend university to prove it. They could prepare through textbooks, the Khan Academy or life experience. Because even name-brand diplomas give employers limited information, it would be a way for elite college graduates to differentiate themselves from their peers, to show that they have retained deep, useful knowledge.

In short, it would make the credential that most students and parents need cheaper (since it is an assessment that is not predicated on seat time in lecture halls) and more powerful - it would tell employers who is best ready to contribute at their organizations based on metrics that they find important. College would become optional even for students pursuing prestigious and selective career tracks.

Think about the implications. The academic purity of a university experience would no longer be strangely mixed with student career ambitions - no more obsession with getting an “A” in a philosophy class to get a job interview at a consulting firm. Even better, pedigree and selectivity of school would no longer be artificial barriers to entering competitive fields.

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Filed under: Khan Academy • Practice • Salman Khan • Voices