Archives for category: Online Education


In a remarkable show of solidarity, students at 700 elementary and secondary schools in Ontario planned a mass walkout today to protest the government’s imposition of mandatory e-learning in high school, a ban on cellphones, and increased class sizes. 

“Students have started a movement with a very clear message: Hands off our education,” said organizer Rayne Fisher-Quann in a statement.

“Students understand the importance of fiscal responsibility, they understand the importance of balancing the budget, but most importantly they also know that our world-class education system should never be a victim of cuts,” said the Grade 12 student from William Lyon Mackenzie Collegiate Institute in North York.

That will get the attention of the government!

Nancy Carlsson-Paige, an early childhood education expert who taught for many years at Lesley University in Cambridge, writes here at Edsurge, a tech website,explaining why online preschool is a truly rotten idea.

It is a terrific article, and it begins like this:

The recent growth of online preschools, already in existence in at least eight states, gives states an inexpensive way to deliver pre-K education. But it is a sorry substitute for the whole child, play-based early childhood education that all young children deserve to have.

Cyber schools have been increasing over the last twenty years, and most programs are marketed by for-profit companies. The more recent emergence of online preschool programs opens the door for cyber education businesses to cash in on the estimated $70 billion per year “pre-K market.”

In an education reform climate that has redefined education as academic standards and success on tests, online pre-K programs are an easy sell. Parents are ready to buy into computer-based programs that will get their kids ready for kindergarten by drilling them on letters and numbers. The programs teach discrete, narrow skills through repetition and rote learning. The truth is that for children to master the print system or concepts of number, they have to go through complex developmental progressions that build these concepts over time through activity and play.

Young children don’t learn optimally from screen-based instruction. Kids learn through activity. They use their bodies, minds and all of their senses to learn. They learn concepts through hands-on experiences with materials in three-dimensional space. Through their own activity and play, and their interactions with peers and teachers, children build their ideas gradually over time.

Nancy Bailey learned that the Chan-Zuckerberg Initiative was giving $14 Million to the schools of Chicago to put more students online.

Apparently no one in Chicago ever heard of the Trojan horse.

Read on.

The National Education Policy Center released its sixth annual report on “virtual education,” including both online schools and blended learning. The overall funding: neither is as effective as traditional schools with human-to-human interaction.


BOULDER, CO (May 1, 2018) – NEPC’s Sixth Annual Report on Virtual Education, Full-Time Virtual and Blended Schools: Enrollment, Student Characteristics, and Performance, provides a detailed overview and inventory of full-time virtual schools and of blended learning schools, including student demographics, state-specific school performance ratings, and—where possible—an analysis of school performance measures.

School performance measures for both virtual and blended schools indicate that they are not as successful as traditional public schools. Nevertheless, enrollment growth has continued.

Full-time virtual schools deliver all curriculum and instruction via the Internet and electronic communication, usually asynchronously with students at home and teachers at a remote location. Blended, or hybrid, schools combine virtual instruction with traditional face-to-face instruction in classrooms.

The report, beyond adding to the overwhelming evidence of poor outcomes for online schools, documents an interesting trend in the sector. Compared to prior years, there has been a shift in the type of schools with the most growth. We are now seeing more school districts opening their own virtual schools. These district-run schools have typically been small, with relatively small levels of enrollment. But the trend is nonetheless evident. While large virtual schools operated by for-profit education management organizations (EMOs) still dominate this sector, they have lost considerable market share. 

Find Full-Time Virtual and Blended Schools: Enrollment, Student Characteristics, and Performance, by Gary Miron, Christopher Shank, and Caryn Davidson, on the web at:

Bill Phillis, watchdog extraordinaire for Ohio, reports that the state of Ohio has allowed the Electronic Classroom of Tomorrow (ECOT) to use public money in its public relations blitz to avoid accountability for inflation of enrollment and the state’s efforts to claw back more than $60 million. ECOT is notable for having the lowest graduation rate of any high school in the nation, as well as dubious quality standards. Its founder is a major contributor to elected officials. In return, he has collected many millions of dollars of profit.

Bill Phillis writes:

“ECOT has spent $33 million on ads, lobbyists, profits and lawsuits
since January 2016

“According to a September 3 Columbus Dispatch article, ECOT has spent $33 million on TV ads, lobbyists, lawsuits and William Lager’s for-profit companies since January 2016, all in pursuit of gaining state approval to continue to count students that are not participating.

“Over 400 school buses could have been purchased with the $33 million ECOT has spent recklessly. While Ohio students ride on worn-out buses, the ECOT Man spent money extracted from school districts to rev-up his tax-consuming machine.

“It is amazing that public officials have tolerated payments to ECOT’s for students not participating during a span of 15 years. Now that ECOT has finally been audited and exposed, this business is in the process of submitting a plan to transition to the totally unregulated dropout recovery charter scheme.

“Will state officials allow this duplicity to proceed? This will be an ethical and moral test for state officials and the Ohio Department of Education.”

You can contact Bill Phillis or join his organization at:

William L. Phillis
Ohio Coalition for Equity & Adequacy of School Funding

Tim Slekar, dean of education at Edgewood College and a fighter for teachers and public schools, reports here on Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker’s latest salvo in his campaign to eliminate the teaching profession.

He writes:

“Wisconsin’s Joint Finance Committee passed Scott Walker’s budget proposal dealing with teacher education on a 12- 4 party line vote. While the entire proposal is a partisan disaster that continues the dismantling of Wisconsin’s public school system—one item is worth highlighting.”

Future teachers need no student teaching experience. They can completely bypass traditional professional education.

“The American Board for Certification of Teacher Excellence will be granting teaching licenses in Wisconsin.

“What does it take to earn a teaching license through the American Board for Certification of Teacher Excellence (ABCTE)?

A computer.
Web access

“That’s it! You never need to step foot in a college classroom or a classroom full of children. This is truly “fast-track” alternative teacher certification. Who needs to work with kids or learn how to interact with other human beings? That’s so “traditional.””

The ABCTE was created by Kate Walsh, who also founded the National Council for Teacher Quality, whose purpose is to undermine teacher education programs. It is a standardized test that involves no practical or theoretical knowledge of teaching. NCTQ eventually sold off its ownership rights to this shoddy program.

Professor Kenneth Zeichner of the University of Washington, an expert on teacher education, had this to say about ABCTE:

“”Wisconsin is considering allowing the American Board for Certification of Teaching Excellence to operate within its boundaries. This program, which was started by Kate Walsh and the National Center for Teaching Quality as an alternative to the push by the profession to implement a national board certification, is a totally online program that requires teachers to pass 2 online exams about subject matter knowledge and professional teaching knowledge. There is no student teaching/internship/or residency experience or assessment of teaching competence, and graduates become teachers of record in classrooms with “other people’s children.” I have been a critic of what I consider to be substandard programs like Relay and TNTP that I believe do a poor job or preparing professional teachers who will stay in teaching for more than a few years. ABCTE is worse. No real preparation and they end up teaching in schools where students need the very best teachers. Shame on you, Scott Walker, Alberta Darling, and the rest of the WI alt right.”

Arne Duncan used to boast about the rising high school graduation rate, but he never talked about one cause of the increase: online credit recovery.

Slate has run a multi-part series on the online credit recovery racket. Imagine a student failing a one-year course, then earning full credit in less than one week. It has its benefits: superintendents get praised for the steady increase in the graduation rate; students get the credits they need to graduate.

But what they don’t get is an education.

This segment begins:

“After she failed English her junior year at Riverbend High School in Spotsylvania, Virginia, 17-year-old Amelia Kreck had to retake the class. It took her two days.

“In the classroom, Amelia had struggled with essay writing. But the online course her school directed her to take as a replacement had no essays. Nor did Amelia have to read any books in their entirety. Unsurprisingly, she says, she never had to think very hard. That’s because she skipped out of most units through a series of “pretests” at the start, which she says contained basic grammar questions as well as some short readings followed by multiple-choice sections.

“Amelia says she enjoyed some of the readings in the online version of the class, created by for-profit education company Edgenuity, including excerpts from Freakonomics and the writings of the theoretical physicist Michio Kaku. She also appreciated the flexibility to work from home—until after midnight on one of the two days it took here to recover her credit. But “there was a big component of the original class that was missing from credit recovery,” she says. “Most of it was on the shallow side.” She finished so quickly, she says, that “I didn’t improve in the areas that needed improvement.”

State police in Michigan are investigating online schools for financial fraud and inflating enrollment.

Whenever you listen to the rhetoric of “reformers,” you must always bear in mind that what they mean is actually the opposite of what they say. “Reform,” for example, does not mean that they want to improve public schools; it means “privatization” and the elimination of public schools.

Emily Talmade, teacher-blogger in Maine, says that we must be wary of the new reform focus on “social emotional learning.” They do not mean that teachers and parents should pay attention to children’s ability to work and play well with others, or to their feelings of adequacy and self-worth.

Behind the new buzzwords is a renewed effort to push competency based education (CBE) and computer-based teaching and assessment. The leaders of the new reform movement hail from the tech sector–Gates, Zuckerberg, Reed Hastings, Pearson, and more–and they see a future of computer-driven education, teaching and testing at all times, measuring and ranking students.

Can they be stopped? Emily doesn’t say how, but the answer lies with local school boards who are informed and who refuse to jump on their bandwagon. Maybe that is why ALEC is so determined to strip power from local school boards and transfer it to governors and state control. After all, it is easier to buy 50 governors than to persuade nearly 15,000 local school boards. The answer also lies with informed parents. Be aware of what your state is doing; refuse to allow your child to be subject to data mining and CBE. Opt out. Send a message: Not with my child.

The Electronic Classroom of Tomorrow (ECOT) lost in court today! This is an e-charter owned and run for profit by William Lager, who is a big donor to the Ohio GOP. The school has the lowest high school graduation rate in the nation but has never been held accountable for its poor performance.

Here is the story from Stephen Dyer of Ohio Innovation.

“Word came out a few minutes ago that ECOT’s lawsuit has failed. The school, which claimed to be the nation’s largest, now may have to repay Ohio taxpayers more than $60 million of the $109 million it received last year because the state determined ECOT could only verify it had 40 percent of the 15,000 plus kids it claimed. The state still pays ECOT so much per pupil that even with this cut(and including all of its revenue streams), ECOT can still clear as much as 22 percent profit after paying all of its staff.

“Now I know ECOT will use every maneuver to overturn this ruling from Franklin County Common Pleas Judge Jenifer French. There will be appeals.

“But what a day this is for Ohio’s kids and taxpayers.

“Since Lager opened ECOT in 2001, Ohio’s taxpayers have sent the school $903 million. If the state’s recent determination that ECOT was overpaid by 60 percent last year were applied over the last 15 years, Ohio taxpayers have sent about $540 million for kids that ECOT never really had. That’s a staggering figure. And it’s not outrageous to make that assumption because ECOT was nailed by State Auditor Jim Petro during its first year of operation for the exact same thing.

“And what have we received for that? Certainly not high-quality education. ECOT earned only Fs on the new state report card — something it also achieved two years ago under the less difficult state report card regime.”