Wednesday, October 15, 2003

Teachers Threatened by Online Alternative

Suit seeks to stop online program
Perhaps I've been spending too much time in the parallel universe of Joanne, but this article is fascinating. Teachers' unions are suing an organization that offers accredited online high school courses because homeschooling parents do most of the facilitating. I guess MVNA has "real" teachers on call, but not enough to make the unions happy -- they're clearly threatened by this model and I don't really blame them. Programs like this could be future of education, at least for the subset of parents who can swing it, and the role of official teachers is certainly diminished (as they are arguing in their cases).

This new model may be bad for teachers, but what about kids? I didn't really understand Stephen's logic a couple of weeks ago when he said that homeschooling was a bad idea because many parents are not qualified to teach. The idea that none should be allowed to because some can't do it well seems a bit absurd, and the public system is in the midst of trying to figure out what it means to get "qualified teachers" when funding keeps getting cut and districts face teacher shortages. We all know smart people who would make better teachers than many of the ones that the government says are qualified. And what if they had good curriculum to use with their kids, online collaboration tools and all kinds of extra-curricular social activities available -- sports, clubs, friends, travel, etc -- wouldn't that have the potential to be an excellent learning experience?

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