A reader sent me the following and is looking for comments and suggestions. Some public school districts are currently contracting with a virtual education provider. He believes that this could be rolled out in an area with a large Orthodox Jewish presence (he looks at Lawrence School District in particular) and benefit private school students as well as the school district. Below is his post.
Please leave your comments, address any of your concerns, and most importantly let us know if you would consider enrolling your own child(ren) in such a program if it were available in your area (even if only for a short period of time).
I have many reservations myself, but I find the idea intriguing and would certainly be open to such an option if it was available.
I have an interesting and innovative idea that has the potential to:
What I am talking about isn't an original idea, however I believe it would be a fresh idea for yeshiva tuition paying parents.
I am talking about adding a virtual school to the Lawrence Public School district.
How does it work?
Education Management Organizations, like Connections Academy, work with sponsors State DOEs, Public School Districts, Charter Schools and other sponsor organizations to provide a free public school that students attend outside of traditional "bricks & Mortar" walls. Connections Academy's unique program combines the strong parental involvement of homeschooling, the expertise and accountability of public funded education, and the flexibility of online classes. The mission is to help each student maximize his or her potential and meet the highest performance standards.
How could this be applied to the current chinuch model?
First, this program would not be for everyone. In fact, it wouldn't even be a solution for the majority. But I believe it would be ground-breaking option and options are something we sorely need!
There would be a separation between secular education (the virtual school) and the Judaic education.
For the virtual school, each student would have his/her own unique schedule. That schedule can revolve around his/her Judaic schedule or vice versa. The virtual school schedule would be a personalized and flexible as each student learns at his/her own pace. With Connections Academy's model, Learning Coaches work with the teachers to ensure that the student(s) they are responsible are progressing. Learning coaches are typically stay-at-home family members or even hired individuals. The virtual school itself would be tuition free. Textbooks, lesson plans, online resources, curriculum materials and (usually) computers are included! A complaint often heard regarding virtual schools is the perceived lack of socialization. I believe The Judaic program (not part of the virtual school) would solve this problem.
The Judaic portion would have to be an "outside-the-box" solution as well. Of course, the Judaic portion of tuition would not go away. However, innovative and flexible Judaic teachers and Rabbanim could devise (diverse in scholarship and in cost) programs for students of this virtual school.
So, why would Lawrence Public Schools be interested?
- It can help reverse the declining numbers by attracting private school students.
- It can help bring higher scoring students under the ranks which would boost the School Report Card.
- Leveraging technology for education is all the rage!
- It would actually be a money-maker for the district. Typically, the district would receive per pupil funding in excess of what they would pay for this program.
- It would offer a solution for children of Orthodox tax payers without the separation of church and state challenges.