Online Education: Choice is Good, Mandates Are Not

I read an article written by Beth Hawkins that was part news and mostly conspiracy theory in the MinnPost.  First the news, she discussed a proposed bill in the Minnesota Legislature, House File 2127, that would require all students starting in four years to take one online class to graduate.

This section of the bill reads:

High school students must successfully complete at least one course credit under paragraph (a) that includes digital learning as defined in section 124D.095 to graduate.  Where appropriate, a school district may comply with this requirement by adopting a comparable, locally established alternate plan to accommodate an eligible student with disabilities or an English-language learner enrolled in school for three school years or less.

Digital learning is defined later in the bill as “learning facilitated by technology that offers students an element of control over the time, place, path, or pace of their learning.”

So the question that begs to be asked is why?  Why would you mandate online learning?  I don’t have the vaguest idea why.  There’s no good reason, that I can think of, for the state of Minnesota to mandate that high school students take an online course.

The article goes from making a good point into tin foil hat conspiracy.  Now the “ultra-secretive, ultra-conservative” ALEC (American Legislative Exchange Council) and corporations are making deals with Republican state legislators in smoke-filled rooms to have the audacity of giving students and families in different states the choice of online education.  Here’s the crux of her complaint:

ALEC is at work on those cost-cutting measures, drafting model bills aimed at collective bargaining, teacher compensation, licensure, local school boards, vouchers, tax credits and a host of other “reforms” that incorporate privatization.

So the real problem Ms. Hawkins has is that they promote choice.  She seems to be ok with online education if it is run by the state, but not if it is run by for profit company and certainly not if conservatives are involved.  Forget the fact that it is only model legislation that first needs to actually get passed by State Legislatures and signed into law by a state’s Governor.

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