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Home schooling

Seeing a little progress in a New York Times lead

Two years ago, we launched redefinED in an attempt to help opinion leaders, the public and the mainstream media understand how public education is being transformed and redefined. So the following lead in yesterday’s New York Times was, even if by mere coincidence, gratifying to read:  “A growing number of lawmakers across the country are taking steps to redefine public education … legislators and some governors are headed toward funneling public money directly to families, who would be free to choose the kind of schooling they believe is best for their children, be it public, charter, private, religious, online...

Why school voucher opponents should reconsider

In a blog entry last week, “I’m rethinking my opposition to school vouchers. Convince me,” Nicole Stockdale, the assistant editorial page editor at the Dallas Morning News, said she is grappling with whether to support school vouchers. What stimulated Nicole’s dilemma is a bill in the Texas Legislature to allow low-income families to use tax credit scholarships (often referred to as school vouchers) to pay private school tuition and fees. She deserves a serious reply to her challenge, and, given I am president of a Florida nonprofit that administers the country’s largest tax credit scholarship program for low-income children, I...

Mom was right: I love online learning

As a homeschool student, Kelsey Gray didn’t like history or English. Math was even worse. Each year, the curriculum grew more difficult – finally prompting her mom, Mendy Gray, a former public schoolteacher, to seek alternatives. She turned to other homeschoolers, who shared a secret: Florida Virtual School. The 16-year-old online education program, the largest in the country, offers more than 120 courses from Algebra to Sociology. Classes are taught by certified teachers and available for free to K-12 students enrolled in public, private and charter schools – and even home schools. More than 149,000 students participated in Florida Virtual School part-time,...

redefinED roundup: Vouchers in Tennessee, tax credit scholarships in Mississippi & more

Tennessee: Gov. Bill Haslam proposes a voucher that's limited to low-income students in low-performing schools, with additional state funding for those schools to boot (KnoxNews). More from timesfreepress.com and Nashville Public Radio. Haslam reiterates that his proposal won't affect funding for public schools (Nooga.com). Both supporters and opponents find details to criticize (KnoxNews). Haslam's administration is also backing a bill that would cap enrollment at a virtual charter school run by K12 Inc, reports timesfreepress.com. Florida: At a National School Choice Week event, new Florida Education Commissioner Tony Bennett gives some school districts credit for expanding public options such as magnet...

Tony Bennett praises Florida school districts for expanding school choice

Florida’s new education commissioner is known for his zealous support of charter schools and vouchers and other learning options that some critics see as anti-public school. But on Tuesday afternoon, Tony Bennett sat next to Hillsborough County Public Schools Superintendent MaryEllen Elia inside a Tampa magnet school for boys, and praised the growth of choice in district schools across the state. Florida is transcending the first round of conversations on choice that pit private and charter schools against public schools and virtual schools against “brick and mortar’’ ones, Bennett said during an event marking National School Choice Week. The new conversation,...

Choice groups, unite! Florida alliance brings school choice sectors together

In 2010, Doug Tuthill took a look around and realized he was living in a new era. “Florida had this rapidly expanding portfolio of school choice options,” said Tuthill, the president of Step Up For Students, which administers the state’s tax credit scholarship program. “Yet there was little dialogue among the groups representing those choices. We weren’t talking to each other about what was working, what wasn’t, and why.” Several important players in this bourgeoning movement recognized the need for more collaboration. Florida Virtual School and Step Up For Students, among others, wanted to see the school choice movement united, so...

Religious families see benefits of ‘virtual’ schools

From Religion News Service: Since Florida became the first state to try them in 1996, virtual public schools have enjoyed dramatic growth, with at least some of it coming from religious families. Like home-schooling parents, parents of virtual public school students like having their children home so they can integrate religion and values into the school day. In the 2011-2012 school year, 275,000 students were enrolled in online K-12 programs, up from 50,000 a decade ago, according to “Keeping Pace with Online and Blended Learning: A Guide to Policy and Practice 2012,” a report from the Colorado-based Evergreen Education Group. Currently,...

Emerging market in public education is a good thing

Words such as voucher, privatization, profit and corporation are often used as weapons by individuals and groups who oppose parental empowerment and school choice. Using words as weapons is especially common during periods of significant social change - we all do it - but the practice undermines civic discourse and makes finding common ground more difficult. “Market” is another term school choice opponents use to connote evil, but our way of life is largely based on markets, and public education is increasingly embracing market processes as customized teaching and learning become more common. Our challenge moving forward is regulating public...