Educational choices should be as flexible, mobile and ambitious as the American spirit.
From the outset, Americans haven’t shied away from unchartered lands and have always sought the best opportunities for themselves and their families.
The new American migration continues. Populations expand, such as the booming southern states, and populations contract. American freedom and mobility leaves some cities, such as Detroit and Cleveland, with a surplus of empty school buildings, while other states frantically race to construct buildings before the next school year starts. Meanwhile, many areas across our country maintain a stable, yet relatively sparse, population—one that’s too low to support multiple school buildings. But regardless of location, all children can experience the benefits school choice offers.
As Americans move and search for new opportunities, our country deserves an educational system that can serve children, regardless of location or size. Every child, in every state, can experience the benefits of school choice.
Advances in technology have torn down the old barriers that previously stymied a vibrant school-choice marketplace. No longer are children confined to a seat in a classroom with the other children who were born in the same year and live in the same geographic area.
Instead, the expansion of digital learning in education has expanded options to beyond what was imaginable just a few years ago. Technology has made it possible for every child in America to access the high quality teachers in an endless variety of courses. Public policy is beginning to recognize this and catch up to the 21st century, but there is far to travel.
We are now at a place technologically where students can have a truly customized education and not be limited to a single classroom. Digital learning allows students to have the ability to stay in their own school through an innovative course choice program, earn their diploma through a virtual school, or learn through homeschooling while accessing a vast array of online courses.
The Florida Virtual School is an excellent example. FLVS started as an experiment in 1997 with 77 students and five courses. It has grown to become a national digital learning leader, currently serving more than 120 course offerings to 150,000 students across the United States. These include 15 Advanced Placement classes, Chinese and driver education.
Academic achievement not only is on par with traditional schools, but often exceeds it. Florida students taking part-time courses through FLVS outperformed students across the state in all four end of course exams: Algebra I, Geometry, Biology, and U.S. History.
This has made FLVS a popular option for home educators. It has a “Homeschool Hub’’ on its website to direct and assist parents, offering up to six courses per semester as well as a fulltime elementary program.
Home education is the fastest growing segment of education. There now are about 1.8 million children being taught at home, and with results that exceed those in traditional public schools. Digital education provides parents with a smorgasbord of courses and curriculum. It allows them to better create individualized education plans for their children.
Innovations brought to students through digital learning have proven popular and effective. Technology has improved our lives in countless ways—both visible and behind the scenes. We owe it to students to make the best use of technology, and ensure that as students seek opportunity in America, they are not robbed of a quality education.
About the author
Dave Myslinski serves as a Communications Specialist for the Foundation for Excellence in Education, and was the State Policy Director for Digital Learning Now, focusing on digital education policies across all 50 states. Prior to joining the Foundation, he served as the Education Task Force Director at the American Legislative Exchange Council, where he focused on digital learning, K-12 education reform, and higher education policies on the state level. He is a coauthor of the Report Card on American Education: Ranking State K-12 Performance, Progress and Reform for ALEC, and currently serves on its Education Task Force Executive Committee and is a Vice-Chair of the Digital Learning Subcommittee. Dave has previously worked on state policies relating to health care and telecommunications. He is a graduate of Rutgers University. Contact Dave at Dave@excelined.org