Online Schools Growing Yet Reasons Students Choose Them Haven't Changed

Although the number of students who take online or blended courses is elusive, the reasons they go the virtual route for their studies tend to fall into a few specific categories: academic, personal or health-related or because of other "life interests and circumstances." A new report issued by the Foundation for Blended and Online Learning suggested that these reasons haven't changed in the two decades since online options first surfaced. What has changed is the pace of growth among students choosing to attend blended and online schools and the number of such programs introduced or adopted by "traditional" districts.

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When I was in second grade, my parents moved our family from Virginia to Connecticut because Dad took a job in New York City. They chose the town of Riverside to live in based largely on the quality of the public school system. We were lucky to be able to afford to live there. It had some of the best schools the country at the time, and probably still does. But the local public school didn’t work for me. Just didn’t click.

Continue reading Rob's story here. 

School Choice Week By Duey Stroebel

This week is "School Choice Week." Many have asked me how area taxpayers have benefited from school choice - particularly the Milwaukee program. 

The Milwaukee school choice program is a unique and innovative initiative to provide alternatives to the failing track record of the Milwaukee Public Schools (MPS). The program gives poor inner-city parents the opportunity to enroll in private schools that offer opportunities for success. 

Moreover, the creation of the Milwaukee school choice program has had a positive financial impact on the residents of my senate district and across the state. While our students may not attend choice schools, our public schools benefit with more general aid because the program exists. In short, school choice saves property taxpayers money. 

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A critical year for school choice

The coming year will be a critical time for the school choice movement in Arizona and nationally.

Rapid enrollment growth over the past 20 years has demonstrated the popularity of public charter schools when parents are given an option in their children’s education. In Arizona, 180,000 students now attend one of 547 charter schools across the state. Since 2007-08, charter enrollment nationally has more than doubled and now stands at nearly 3 million.

Even more impressive: Consider that another 1 million students are on waiting lists nationwide to attend a public charter school. Clearly, these schools are meeting a critical demand of American families.

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Report: School Choice Increases Achievement, Reduces Crime

( – School choice advocate Betsy DeVos, president-elect Donald Trump’s nominee for secretary of education, faces her confirmation hearing before the Senate Health, Education, Labor & Pensions (HELP) Committee later today following the release of a timely report detailing school choice’s positive societal and economic benefits.

Democrats and teachers unions have harshly criticized DeVos, claiming that expanding school choice would result in the destruction of the public school system.

But the report published last week by the Heartland Institute cites evidence that school choice and the competitive environment it creates among education providers actually improves public education.

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Five Questions for the President of National School Choice Week

This week marks the seventh-annual National School Choice Week, and the organization behind it expects this year's event to be the largest yet, with approximately 20,000 independently-organized events taking place around the country. Started in 2011, National School Choice Week considers itself “the world’s largest annual celebration of opportunity in education.” It's even crossed over into pop culture. In 2013, the Jonas Brothers, who were homeschooled, launchedNational School Choice Week with a concert in Phoenix.

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Embracing school choice doesn't mean abandoning public education

Betsy DeVos, President-elect Trump's nominee to serve as secretary of education, will begin her Senate confirmation hearings Tuesday evening. The nomination of DeVos, who supports school choice, has renewed the national discussion over the importance of opportunity in K-12 education.

If you were to listen only to the national-level discussion over the issue, you might think school choice is wildly controversial. But in many states across the country, that's not the case. Much of the "controversy" over school choice has largely ebbed.

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Six Key Components of Effective Online Instruction

I was recently reminded that almost ALL instruction today has an online component. I was speaking with a colleague who decided to tackle what I would consider to be a complex plumbing project at home simply by reviewing online “how to” videos. She had no plumbing experience, and yet she was able to discover the tools and techniques she needed online, learn from experts and solve her problem while gaining real-world experience (all without flooding her kitchen).

In the last 20 years–17 of which I’ve worked at the non-profit The Virtual High School–I’ve seen education, and the ways in which our students gather information, dramatically change. Informal learning has certainly grown by leaps and bounds through the use of online education and online resources in many forms. Our challenge as educators is to leverage our students’ desires and preferences to use online education while advancing their learning. With the flood of information available, what does practical and effective online instruction even look like?

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The biggest school choice celebration ever is happening right now

More than 6.4 million people are participating in more than 21,000 events this week as part of National School Choice Week. Organizers say it's the "largest series of education-related events" in the country's history.

National School Choice Week started in 2011 with just 150 events across the country. By 2013, it had ballooned to more than 3,600 events. The celebration of educational choice has included more events every year it's been held.

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Iowa teen launches Facebook effort to target bullying trend

Beginning in middle school, an area high school teen found herself the target of bullying from classmates. When confronted with a very limited amount of physical bullying in eighth grade, she retaliated in kind and was punished for it. When dealing with a far more substantial amount of verbal abuse, ridicule, rumor mongering and social media attacks — she became a shell of herself. She shrank from society, limiting her social interaction, self medicating, turning to self harm methods, planning to end her life and subsequently landing in medical care which helped her begin to turn her life around.

The circumstances haven’t necessarily changed. The bullying continues, however she believes she has walked through the darkness and come out the other side and into the light as she stands just months from graduation.

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