Online Learning is Filling the Education Gap
by Logan Smith
Online learning has been more than just a replacement for in-class learning. It has been a supplement to our education system and adds value to each student’s education; by allowing them to think differently, to acquire computer skills for themselves and to expand their knowledge base by offering many more options for core and elective classes. Not only is online learning a great resource for everyday students, but it’s becoming obvious that it can help to advance our students with trouble with achievement.
One education advocate in Contra Costa, Lance Izumi, is trying to convince the county school board that more online education is a must. Izumi is the senior director of education studies at the Pacific Research Institute and co-authored a book titled Short-Circuited: The Challenges Facing the Online Learning Revolution in California. Izumi believes that charter schools and online learning are the best chance Contra Costa has to turn around underperforming schools. He feels it’s a statewide problem that many schools are not preparing their students well enough to compete for college admission, especially for the more competitive and highly-ranked schools.
One school, in particular, was Clayton Valley High School in Concord, whose 11th graders took the Early Assessment Program exam last year and proved to have far too many students who are unprepared for college. Only 29% were college-ready in English and only about 1 in 10 met the target goal for math. Izumi recently said at a “Saving our Schools” luncheon that, “in a recent survey, three quarters of Americans surveyed said that college is important to achieving success in life. However, less than half believed that their local high school was doing an excellent or good job at preparing students for college.”
Izumi feels that government regulations and union contracts have delayed the expansion of online education programs. This is where some people may be opposed to Izumi’s thinking, as the Pacific Research Institute is a free-market public-policy “think tank” that encourages policies for a free economy, private initiative, and limited government. While some people disagreed with his reasoning behind what’s limiting our schools online education, most participants felt that online learning makes the most sense in getting their children ahead of the curve. One attendee said that the luncheon gave her hope and was very open to the idea. She acknowledged that they are, indeed, “in an education crisis.” She continued, “If these children don’t get educated, we’re really out of luck.”
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