Friday, March 13, 2020

Ohio's Charter School War fails us when we could really use them.

With all this COVID-19 talk, every Ohio Public School District is planning to move to online instruction through the end o fthe year. While that seems like a heavy lift, it really shouldn't be. Why?

Because no state has more students already attending virtual schools than Ohio.

Yet in no instance has the Ohio Department of Education or any shcool district -- despite this emergency crisis -- said, "Hey, we have a lot of online schools already, why don't we ask them for help?"

Why haven't districts sought help? Simple: Ohio's online schools perform so poorly and have garnered such bad faith in the local public school community that I am willing to bet it never crossed school leaders' minds to reach out to, for example, the Ohio Virtual Academy -- whose diplmoas aren't accepted by the NCAA -- to see if the school could help the district transition.

Instead, districts are choosing to reinvent their own wheel.

Maybe if the state had actually spent the last 20 years trying to ensure quality online education was going on, we'd be in a different place. Instead, they've avoided doing much if anything about online schools. If they had held these schools to more account, our local public schools could be smoothly transitioning to online education using our robust online education sector as a model.

Instead these schools, which educate about 35,000 students exclusively in the online realm where all 1.6 million kids will soon be, are not even an afterthought.

After years of failing online schools -- epitomized by the ECOT disaster but replicated in other states -- and constant denials of the online schools' academic and ficnanicial impact on local public schools, the relationship has seriously been poisoned, if it ever really existed.

Perhaps during this crisis, an opportunity to improve online education and develop a positive working relationship between them and local public schools will occur.

But I'm not holding my breath. And that, my friends, is the tragic fallout from Ohio lawmakers' 20-year blind devotion to a failing online school sector.

It didn't have to be this way.

But here we are.

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