Florida considers mandatory online learning for k-12

Lawmakers in Florida are looking to make some sweeping changes in school technology in their state. They have realized the potential to save education dollars by increasing online learning and have introduced proposals addressing virtual classrooms. One of the proposals impacts students entering high school beginning next year. These students would be required to take at least one online course in order to graduate.

Mandatory online learning proponents and detractors

Florida already has a great many students engaging in online learning, but not nearly as many as some lawmakers would like to see. Last year, less than 1 percent of Florida's 2.6 million public-school students participated in online learning. While opponents of the proposal see it as a cost-cutting measure which could harm students by denying them socialization opportunities, proponents say the proposals would bring more educational choices to families. Proponents also point out that while technology is a big part of our lives, education has fallen behind in embracing it.

Sen. Anitere Flores, co-sponsor of the bills, said "We're walking around with BlackBerrys, with cell phones, with iPods, iPads…The only place, unfortunately, where that technology has not been fully embraced is in our education system."

The bills' sponsors hope they will accomplish the following goals:

  1. Allow students in k-12 to attend online school full time
  2. Allow home-schooled students to take up online learning, even though they haven't attended public school in the past

Idaho considers online education

    Idaho schools Superintendent Tom Luna proposed an even wider-reaching online learning bill which would require four online courses for Idaho students. To pay for the online classes, 770 teaching jobs would have been eliminated over the next two years. Sherri Wood, president of the Idaho Education Association testified against the bill, saying it would "trade teachers for technology." A watered-down version of the bill did pass, but the 4-classes-per-student provision was dropped.