NEWS: Florida Expands Virtual School Options

From the Orlando Sentinel:

Florida, a pioneer in the field of virtual education, is extending its digital reach this year with a new law that will push even more students to log on to learn.

It is a move some educators call worrisome, fearful it really is an effort to cut costs, not boost education, and uncertain all online offerings are the right fit for so many youngsters.

But others say the Digital Learning Now law is precisely what Florida needs to prepare children for a technology-based future and to free them from the geographic constraints of the walled classroom.

“Online courses help level the playing field so that every student can access a world-class education,” Susan Patrick, president of the International Association for K-12 Online Learning, wrote in an email.

Florida is a national leader in the field, having established the Florida Virtual School in 1997, the first such state-run program in the nation, Patrick said. And the new law — which expands both part- and full-time virtual options — keeps the state at the forefront of online education, which is “growing explosively,” according to the association.

The state law requires high-school students to take an online course to earn a diploma, gives bright elementary students new virtual options, expands the established Florida Virtual School and allows new virtual charter schools to open.

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