Editorial: Online education is important part of school choice discussion

Choosing a school is not just a political idea that is gaining points on the one hand and provoking opposition on the other.

Decisions about teaching a child are never easy. Start with preschool. Do you do that at all? Do you choose a public school program when it is available? What about Head Start or a private program?

It doesn’t get any easier when kids grow up. There is everything public or private or parish issue, but there are other options. Magnetic schools. Statutory schools. Home school. Cyber ​​programs. And if you decide to go online, do you want a cyber charter or does your district offer distance education?

In 2019, for parents it was a tortuous maze when decisions were about what you wanted your children to learn, how you wanted them to learn it, and what values ​​there were in the family.

In 2022, it is as much about health as it is about politics and politics.

Some parents choose to go to full-time school because they believe it is important after the losses suffered from going online during a coronavirus pandemic. Some believe schools and the government have crossed boundaries or overreacted to restrictions.

For others, online options may seem safer during a pandemic if your child is separated not by a mask or a few feet, but by a wireless connection. For people on both sides of the political spectrum, this can be a way to assert personal preference in a school district where the majority leans the other way.

For school districts, however, this can be a waste of resources if parents opt for a cyber charter, which can ultimately pull funding out of regular educational programs.

Counties have struggled with this for years, trying to find online offers that would satisfy parents and meet the needs of students without requiring the local area to pay a cyber provider on the other side of the state.

The Westmoreland Online Academy – a joint effort of the Hampfield, Franklin and Norwin school districts – is considering expanding its program from kindergarten to fifth grade, which enrolls more than 100 students. Discussions are underway on opening until the fall for middle and high school students.

“The collaborative thinking process is to extend the current elementary class to middle school to share responsibility for learning between the three counties,” said Matthew Conner, Hampfield’s assistant head of secondary education. “By sharing resources between the three districts, we can ensure that the program remains viable in the future, and this helps ensure that it is implemented in a financially responsible manner.”

Finding a way to lean on each other for districts to provide what students need is a wonderful evolution of school choice. It’s not just because students, families and school districts can come forward. This is because it promotes the idea of ​​finding a way to make everything work for everyone. Too often this is left behind in discussions about choosing a school.

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