In many of our rural parishes, education is one of the biggest industries. Governor Jindal has often pointed out that his administration works hard to attract and retain jobs that require college trained workers. Why would Louisiana want to ship college educated jobs out of state particularly in rural parishes where education workers help to boost the local economy because of the economic impact of their spending on local goods and services? When our local tax monies are sent out of state the local economy suffers.
Will Louisiana children get a higher level of education by having them sit in front of computer monitors and watch lectures by out of state teachers? Will students scores on LEAP and end of course tests improve? Will students be better motivated by these long distance instructors? Will these remote control teachers be able to reach out and get to know our students better so that instruction can be individualized to the unique learning styles of each student? The LAE reported recently that the new Louisiana virtual for profit charter schools run by K12 and Connections Academy were producing below average results on state testing. There is no evidence whatsoever that virtual teaching is in any way better than on site instruction. In fact the news media has uncovered that in Colorado and Iowa, the results for virtual instruction were significantly poorer than for on site instruction. In fact the reporters found that many students quit their online instruction early in the school year and returned to their local schools even though the local funding had already been committed to the for-profit virtual providers.
In Louisiana these long distance teachers will not be evaluated by the value added system that is supposed to relate evaluations to the progress of the students. K12 and other online for-profit providers have been severely criticized for producing inferior instructional results in several states. See the linked article. In Florida, there is a story about a pupil teacher ratio in some online k12 classes of as many as 275 students to one teacher. There are other investigations of alleged wrongdoing by K12 in Florida. Some of these for profit online schools will do just about anything to maximize profits.
So in the Louisiana Course Choice plan, out of state providers will certainly be held accountable for poor results. Right? Wrong! According to the Choice Course law in Act 2 of 2012, the local home school will be held responsible for the accountability testing results of students taking courses from Course Choice providers. Even in cases where local school authorities believe that students have not learned the material provided by a Choice Course, the local school will be prohibited from questioning the credits awarded by an online school. (See my post of Sept. 16) Also according to state law, local school officials are prohibited from discouraging students from taking Course Choice Courses by BESE approved providers, yet for the first 3 years of the program all the accountability for successful results falls on the shoulders of the local school. After 3 years the outside providers will be evaluated and may be denied further participation in the Choice Course program.
By the way, I wonder if that chicken processing plant in North Louisiana is still in business? Just wondering.