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Thursday, June 21, 2007

New Report on Virtual Schools

I found this via Derek's Blog, which not having followed the link in the eSchool News item I posted last week it may very well be the same report, but he posted a link to a virtual school report in his entry entitled "Virtual Schooling and School Reform".

And this information would have been more useful to post yesterday, before the event actually happened, but apparently they hosted a live online chat with the report's author (i.e., Bill Tucker) yesterday afternoon, along with Liz Pape who is the CEO of Virtual High School and Barbara Stein, the Co-ordinator of the NEA's Guide to Teaching Online Courses. However, the information about the event and the transcript of the chat can be found here.

Another resource that Education Sector has on virtual schools that I was able to find was an article called Virtual Schools, Real Innovation, which one of their people published in the New York Times last year.

Now I've had a chance to superficially skim the report that is linked in there, but not really to actually read it. Having said that I wanted to provide some additional information about those involved. The report itself was produced by Education Sector. They claim to be "an independent education policy think tank devoted to developing innovative solutions to the nation’s most pressing educational problems." They also state that they "are nonprofit and nonpartisan, both a dependable source of sound thinking on policy and an honest broker of evidence in key education debates throughout the United States."

However, it should be noted that this independent and nonpartisan group has been a strong supporter of choice in public education, charter schools, and a number of other "right" or conservative thinkers when it comes to education.

Just thought I'd throw that out there for people to consider as they read through this report, so that they can keep this specific perspective in mind when reading the context of this report.

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Anonymous Bill Tucker said...

Have appreciated the resources on your blog for a while and also appreciate the link to the report. The transcript from the chat is now also available.

Have to admit to being somewhat bummed that prior to reading the report you made inferences about the quality of the report and its recommendations based on perceived political agendas. Hope that once you have the opportunity to read it you'll comment on the substance of the report.

5:08 PM  
Blogger MKB said...

I'll be the first to admit that I don't believe that the report is or will contain bias or a political agenda. I do want the people that I push to the report from this website to note that while the Education Sector claims to be non-paritisan and bias, most educational foundations do make similar claims and in reality most are paritisan and bias.

Is your report? I don't know. Is Education Sector in general? I believe that it does support a particular view of public education.

Do either of these thing speak to the quality of the document? I don't think so, only that you have to read their stuff with this in the back of your mind so that you have the appropriate lens in which to view things.

In the same way a Government document contains a particular slant, a historical document contains a particular slant, published research (my own included) contains a particular slant; and readers should understand that slant because while we try to write without bias our own views will color what we choose to include and what we choose to focus on.

This is one of the reasons why I am very up front on this point - I am a big believer in the use of virtual schools to expand educational opportunities for rural school students (and other students who don't have access at their local schools). I do not believe in the use of virtual schools as a way to provide school choice for people to circumvent the public education system. Those are my beliefs, everything I write is seen through that lens. Do I try not to be blatant in pushing hose views through my writing, not in my academic writing. But I do believe that those who do read my writings, at least my academic writings, do benefits from knowing what lens to read my stuff through.


P.S. I'll try and post a follow-up on this when I do get a chance to read it. It may be a bit, as I am moving north to begin my position at Wayne State University in the Fall - but I will get to it eventually.

5:55 PM  
Anonymous Bill Tucker said...

Thanks for the thoughtful follow up response. When you read the report, think you'll be pleased (and perhaps surprised) with my similar interest in publicly-run educational institutions. Good luck with the move!

6:16 PM  

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