Nation’s top public virtual leader endorses private competition

Special to redefinED

by Kenya Woodard

As a bill allowing other virtual education vendors to bring their services to Florida makes its way through the Legislature, the president and CEO of the nation’s largest public online school told an audience gathered Thursday in New Orleans at the Education Writers Association conference that she welcomes the competition.

“We feel like that every program is different and has its own personality, and parents and students will choose what’s best for them,” said Julie Young, who pioneered the Florida Virtual School 14 years ago. “I think it’s good.”

Young said that she had once worried about whether virtual education options should be expanded in Florida. But those concerns have eased thanks to state officials’ push for more accountability and vendors’ own drive to provide a quality service, she said.

In a separate interview with redefinED, Young said that because Florida Virtual School is recognized as a top national model of virtual education programming, the programs offered by other providers who enter the arena will be compared to it. This past year, FVS grew by 38 percent, with 213,926 course enrollments and 97,183 students. That’s three times more than the second-closest state. The bill, SB 1620, that was approved unanimously Tuesday by the Senate Education PreK-12 Committee contains numerous standards supported by FVS and aimed at assuring quality curriculum and monitored results.

“I think Florida Virtual School set the bar,” she said.

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