by James C. Sherlock
Public employee interests with personal stakes in the outcome are lying by omission in public discussions of virtual schooling in Virginia.
Their message was published in Suzanne Munson’s column in the Richmond Times Dispatch on Jun 25th.
The VDOE has made a commendable start with online learning through its Virtual Virginia classes. But these are available in only a handful of school districts, serving less than 2% of the commonwealth’s students. This system could become a major player, with serious funding from the General Assembly. (emphasis added)
A free, accredited online curriculum, featuring the finest instructors in every subject, would level the playing field for students from diverse backgrounds. Rich and poor students alike across the commonwealth could receive the same good instruction, addressing uneven education in affluent, low-income and rural areas. Students confined at home due to illnesses or physical disabilities would be able to keep up with their studies and not fall behind.
Additionally, for those choosing remote learning individually or in small-group settings, this need not be an isolated experience. There could be opportunities for discussion, exercise, social interaction and creative expression, with adult supervision.
Ms. Munson failed to mention that exactly the public school educations she describes have been offered successfully for more than a decade free to parents by VDOE-certified private providers offering SOL-compliant instruction here in the Commonwealth. Ms. Munson may even be ignorant of the existence of the privately run program.
Somehow they have been doing it for those years to the great satisfaction of parents without “serious funding from the General Assembly.” They exist on the state share of school funding for each pupil that attends. The state money follows the child. No special state appropriations. Parents pay nothing. The local school districts pay nothing.
The problem the state employees have with that program is that the participating organizations are privately run. VDOE under the previous administration made a coordinated attempt to drive the MOP (Multi-division Online Provider) program out of business.
Now the state employees, using communications like Ms. Munson’s column, are lobbying for vast increases in dedicated state appropriations for their own virtual program. Promotions undoubtedly to follow for everyone currently in the program.
That constitutes public corruption. Continue reading