Education as commerce? From the Journal-Sentinel:
By Amy Hetzner
Court rules against virtual school
A virtual school based in the Northern Ozaukee School District plans to appeal a court ruling that it violates several state laws and ask for a stay of an order that would prevent it from receiving payments for non-district students enrolled at the school.
The ruling against Wisconsin Virtual Academy "threatens every online school program in Wisconsin," WiVA Principal Kurt Bergland said. "There's thousands of kids and teachers and families in all those schools that are now involved with this, whether they realize it or not."
The decision by the District 2 Court of Appeals in Waukesha, which was released today, overturns a previous decision by an Ozaukee County judge.
"As the law presently stands, the charter school, open-enrollment and teacher certification statutes are clear and unambiguous, and the District is not in compliance with any of them," Judge Richard Brown wrote on behalf of the three-judge panel that decided the case.
The ruling is a victory for the Wisconsin Education Association Council, the state's largest teachers union, which argued that because the school essentially operated out of students' homes throughout the state and used parents as primary educators it violates statutes regarding teacher licensure, charter schools and open enrollment.
Yep, this ruling is a threat -- a threat to 'educational professionals' trying to pry tax dollars from the pockets of parents in Ozaukee County. Mainly, this ruling threatens to guarantee those kids a decent education.
Virtual education is expensive and, as its industrial processes intrude into the classroom, [did we miss seeing Pink Floyd's Brick in the Wall?] makes huge profits possible for those who run it as a business, specifically K12 Inc, the hatchling of -- I'm embarrassed to say -- a member of my own discipline, former Secretary of Education Bill Bennett.
[Bill, "Virtues?" You must've stopped reading the Nicomachean Ethics after Book 2. You really needed to read all the way to the end.]
We were more than adequately warned about this kind of snake oil in Cliff Stoll's 1996 book Silicon Snake Oil. Kindergarteners need finger paint and sand boxes, not flat panel displays. Kids need to learn the moral lessons of kick-the-can, not Halo III. The fact that an appeals court was able to rule so easy tells us something.
But here's my real conundrum: what does it say about a country where the teacher's union has to sue to protect educational standards?
For those of you who don't want to read Aristotle have a look at Josef Pieper's Leisure: the basis of culture.
Virtual education is an easy way to educate fewer students, less well, while using 100's of millions of dollars in infrastructure.