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Teachers Union Opposes Virtual K-8 Charter School

CowboyNeal posted more than 8 years ago | from the phoning-it-in dept.


theodp writes "'You can't sit a child in front of a computer and expect him to learn things he needs to succeed in society,' said unimpressed Chicago Teachers Union president Marilyn Stewart of the Chicago Virtual Charter School, which will open to Chicago elementary school students this fall if approved by the state board of education."

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But of course you can (4, Funny)

A beautiful mind (821714) | more than 8 years ago | (#15717743)

First post!

(an essential skill...)

Re:But of course you can (1)

novus ordo (843883) | more than 8 years ago | (#15717788)

Damn kid. Probably copied it. They're all alike.

A note to moderators (-1, Troll)

A beautiful mind (821714) | more than 8 years ago | (#15717873)

I thought my parent post would be an obvious joke, but apparently it ain't so.

"But of course you can" is a reply to 'You can't sit a child in front of a computer and expect him to learn things he needs to succeed in society,' and 'First post!' is the practical demonstration of that knowledge that someone needs in order to succeed in society.

Look! I even added "(an essential skill...)", to hilight, that I was joking, not trying to "Fristy piss".

So, I'd kindly take issue with moderating my post into oblivion for stupid reasons. I'll include the following guide for beginner moderators' convenience:

If my post were:

"But of course you can faggotz lolololz!!!!!!444 Fristy PISS" - Troll.
"But of course this is all the idiot Bush's fault..." - Flamebait
"I went down yesterday to the park and bought an icecream" - Offtopic
"But of course ...[insert awfully bad joke here]" - Overrated

IF you think my joke was absolutely not funny, moderate overrated, otherwise leave it alone. Thanks.

Re:A note to moderators (1)

GundamFan (848341) | more than 8 years ago | (#15717911)

Um.. the only sure fire way not to be moderated in a way you don't like is not to post.

On that note, some of the big things children learn K-8 are scocial skills and respect for other opinions.

Agree Completely (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15717744)

I'm concerned about the narrowm view of the world IT people and engineers
have these days. I think the problem starts at college -
There's a culture that somehow science is more rational and usefull
then the humanitities. Lecturers encourage students to joke about arts
students, and humilaite them whenever possible. This encourages
eliteism, and I for one am sick of it.

Let's tell it like it is. 'science' is just as much about opinion as
the humanities. Research simply follows the fad of the day. Take
dieticians for example. These men and woman believe that just because
they have degree in medical science that they are all knowing. Why,
what they recommend one day may kill you the next! (see the DDT story
for more information.) Science is 95% opinion then facts, lets face
it. What about astrology, the most rediculious of the sciences! But I

Another example is music. We know what sounds good. Everyone aggreed
that Valves for instance sound great. But knowitall engineers use
trensastors with inferious sound quality just to save a few bucks.
They argue with numbers. Hey, I don't want to do maths just to listen
to music. I know what I like. You cannot apply objective reasoning to
a subject which is intristically subjective. But try telling those
recent grads with their useless piece of paper that and they go all

The problem with you technical guys are that you are all so eliteist.
Whilst you want to trun collage into a trade school with yore narrow
minded views that collage should be a job training centre, humanities
are focused on making you a well rounded person who is auctually
interesting to be with, not a boring focuesed geek. Really, it makes
me so mad when people say "oh, he's doing a humanities degree, that's
easy". I have to read *3* *books* *a* *week* on average. Not picture
books either I assue you. It is a lot of work, but the upshot is
improved grammer and spelling skills that are lacking in the
technical. As for those that say "you will be working at mcdonalds" ,
I'm going on to so a PhD in socialolgy where I'll be line for tenure
where I have a much more rewarding job then beeing a science freak or
an engineer. Anyways, all I have to do to be a engineer wold be to get
my MSCE and how hard couyld that be? techincal stuff is simply
whatever fad the market thinks is hot at the moment, but all great
things were done by humanities.

You technical types are far to narrow minded and cynsical. You should
learn to enjoy life.

Peace be to god, he transcends all.

Thanks for illustrating it (5, Insightful)

Moraelin (679338) | more than 8 years ago | (#15717785)

Thanks for offering the prime example of why us techies laugh at humanities students. Or at least at the utterly retarded types who spew such cretinous stuff as "Research simply follows the fad of the day." or "Science is 95% opinion then facts" or "What about astrology, the most rediculious of the sciences!"

Guess what, simpleton? Noone considers astrology a science nowadays.

Basically all you've told me is that you're exactly the kind of ignoramus we loathe: the kind that isn't just content to be an ignorant, but tries to drag everyone else down to his level. The kind who isn't just content to have no fucking clue about real science, but _has_ to bandage his ego by looking down upon those who do.

Tired of elitism? Well, that starts at home. Stop acting like an elitist idiot yourself. The whole "I'm so much better than you because I don't understand science" ivory-tower is what gets us techies to reply with elitism right back. Most of us can accept that not everyone has the inclination or in some cases the IQ for science. Sure. Society needs painters and plumbers too. But seeing an idiot trying to present his ignorance and idiocy as proof of superiority _will_ get a sneer from those who do understand why your arguments only betray massive ignorance.

Re:Thanks for illustrating it (1)

fernandoh26 (963204) | more than 8 years ago | (#15717805)

Mod Parent Up! O god I wish I had mod points....

The major concern, IMHO (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15717838)

The major concern, I feel, is not that the new system will be ineffective but the level of radiation and exposure the kids will be subjected to, on top of the hours spentt watching TV and playing games. Even as adults- I sometimes find myself slightly disoriented after some hours spent coding or even just plain browsing.

The most effective education and learning, I believe has always been delivered in the most 'traditional' of ways despite what many experts may think.

Re:The major concern, IMHO (1)

nkv (604544) | more than 8 years ago | (#15717904)

The most effective education and learning, I believe has always been delivered in the most 'traditional' of ways despite what many experts may think.

Recently, I've been trying to learn Arabic from a teacher near where I live. I have started and given up a couple of times before mainly owing to lack of motivation. I figured that going to concrete classes would keep me running. Anyway, the last time I started, my teacher was someone who seriously believed in the traditional ways of teaching the language (memorising verb conjugations etc.). The modern variant which I sampled 2 days ago relies on giving students sample texts and teaching them things as they go along.

There are quite a few students of the language where I come from and I can say quite confidently that all the ones who studied the language in the boring traditional way are capable of speaking quite eloquently and the more creative ones can even write poetry. The ones who got the pre digested package can't translate a simple sentence without referring to their books.

Re:Thanks for illustrating it (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15717852)

Since when is "plumber" a liberal arts job? It's damn closer to engineering than it is to, say "Spaces of Desire: Doing Cultural Studies".

Re:Thanks for illustrating it (1)

strider44 (650833) | more than 8 years ago | (#15717856)

Don't waste too much time on the poor little arts student. Remember he does sociology, not English, so he probably doesn't know the meaning of the word "science" (hint to grandparent, it contains the word "falsifiable").

Bah, some people just don't have a sense of humour and concentrate too much on people teasing them to realise that the same people will tease themselves readily enough. I think that if someone thinks that everyone who makes jokes about them is an elitist arsehole, and that someone can't laugh at himself, then that someone leads a very sad life.

Re:Thanks for illustrating it (1)

siride (974284) | more than 8 years ago | (#15717941)

> (hint to grandparent, it contains the word "falsifiable"). Or not. You can't really say science is objectively falsifiable because that requires a framework in the first place by which you can accurately judge correctness. But since a scientific theory is the only framework you get, what ends up happening is that falsifiability is couched in terms of the existing theory, which is no good.

Re:Thanks for illustrating it (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15717857)

I am majoring in gullibility.

Re:Thanks for illustrating it (4, Insightful)

giorgiofr (887762) | more than 8 years ago | (#15717920)

I am a humanities student AND a computer geek and I can attest that you are BOTH idiotic know-it-alls who think they're so much better than everyone else. How about you both go down your own road and mind your own business? How about you spend your time LEARNING what you like instead of convincing yourself that it's worth learning in the first place? If you were so sure of your superiority you wouldn't be arguing about it.

Re:Thanks for illustrating it (3, Insightful)

syntaxglitch (889367) | more than 8 years ago | (#15717934)

Stop to consider what the chances are of someone that flawlessly foolish even knowing /. exists?

Don't waste your time; that was almost certainly a calculated troll, trying to hit every negative stereotype of humanities majors to provoke reactions.

Re:Thanks for illustrating it (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15717937)

Goodness people, you all certainly do have to realize that working with computers does not mean that you are some savior to the world. Engineers, scientists, etc. are, for the most part, very conceited when it comes to their outlook on others they deem to be 'below' them on the totum pole. Do I necessarily agree that humanities are the most vital thing in the world? No. But I also must say that techies certainly aren't either.

Oh, before I forget let me just say that I hold not one, but two degrees in Computer Engineering and Electrical Engineering. Getting through college was quite a chore - not because the material was hard, but because of the smug morons who walked around with the 'high and mighty' attitude all the time. "Ha Ha! I'm using teh interwebs and you're not!!111one You are teh inf3rior!!11" was commonplace, and I still can't stand it. 'Computer people' are taught to think in a one track mindset, and talking to them is like pulling teeth since every conversation always resorts back to computers eventually. Talk with a person rich in the humanities and you have someone who is cultured, creative, and well-spoken; they generally are much more plesant to interact with.

Heck, 100 years ago none of us techies would have had a job, so get over it - the world can live without you. Do I enjoy what I do in engineering? Absolutely - I can't picture a life otherwise. Nonetheless, I think we could all stand to learn a thing or two from the 'non-techies.'

Re:Thanks for illustrating it (1)

kjart (941720) | more than 8 years ago | (#15717945)

Booya! I just calculated the intensity of that burn to within 10 significant digits! Looks like the OP was wrong about technical skills being useless.

Re:Agree Completely (1)

the_pooh_experience (596177) | more than 8 years ago | (#15717836)

I have to read *3* *books* *a* *week* on average. Not picture books either I assue you. It is a lot of work, but the upshot is improved grammer and spelling skills that are lacking in the technical (missing noun). As for those that say "you will be working at mcdonalds(no capitalization of proper noun)" , I'm going on to so a PhD in socialolgy where I'll be line for tenure where I have a much more rewarding job then being a science freak or an engineer.

Oh the irony. This coming to you from a "science freak", so what do I know. I guess I should check my contract because the wool must have been pulled over my eyes when they claimed to have given me tenure (evidently tenure is only given to non-technical degree holders).

Re:Agree Completely (4, Insightful)

Lumpy (12016) | more than 8 years ago | (#15717869)

As for those that say "you will be working at mcdonalds" ,
I'm going on to so a PhD in socialolgy where I'll be line for tenure
where I have a much more rewarding job then beeing a science freak or
an engineer.

translation : I'll be a manager at a McDonalds.

You do realize that the number of liberal arts phd's around big campuses is huge? I know of 2 people I was good friends with that went to University of Michigan and one has a PHD in political science, the other has a phd in Philosiphy and a phd in music history.

He is in line for tenure as well, 15th in line, in about 15 years he MIGHT get it but right now with some of the cuts made he works part time tutoring students and still lives in the campus housing and looks like a 38 year old gen-X hippie. He is a great friend, but still dreams of driving a bmw and living in the big stone house near campus (IT WILL NEVER HAPPEN!)

That is the other path that can and will happen, when financial cuts come the "foofy" classes are the first cut. I can go to any resturant in Ann Arbor and get served by a myriad of Masters and Doctorate degrees.

It's more of an addiction to the campus and College lifestyle than seeking an education. Many of the career students in the wierder degree fields are there to fill their addiction.. IT exists everywhere though. RMS was a career student, and the IT building of almost any campus has some hermit that has several degrees but still lives there. (same for the physics and chemistry building as well.)

I'm just saying that going to be a professor is great, but dont bank on your tenure until you have it in your hand. With your education level you should know that trusting fellow humans is folly at best.

Re:Agree Completely (3, Insightful)

zolaris (963926) | more than 8 years ago | (#15717950)

Not that I want to "kill a dead horse" (yes I am a techie and do like references to things like Dilbert, Star Trek, Star Wars, etc) but I have some issue with what you say. Yes, the 'nerds' as we call ourselves sometimes DO need to step off our soapboxes, but it IS a two way street. I am bothered by your comment :

I'm going on to so a PhD in socialolgy where I'll be line for tenure where I have a much more rewarding job then beeing a science freak or an engineer.[sic]

I got an undergraduate degreee in Ocean Engineering and a Masters in Security Informatics. I LOVED the classes I took in both. Designing and building something (submarines, boats, even shorelines) or analyzing computer security 'stuff' is exciting and rewarding to ME. I chose my career and I love it. I do feel bad for all of those individuals in technical AND non-technical fields that hate what they do and don't find their career rewarding. I can also say that I've taught math to countless middle and high school students and I found that to be very rewarding too. I love the look on a child's face when he or she finally understands something that was a mystery before. I probably will, in a few years, go back to teaching or tutoring, possibly on a volunteer basis.

I will not argue that great things were NOT done in the humanities but the engineering community has brought you innovations you use every day. You typed this message on a computer, where do you think that came from? I'm guessing you use a car or form of public transportation daily other than your feet. Someone had to design and innovate it. Would Willa Cather have built an airplane? No, but I know she DID write some very important works and had some great ideas. You don't HAVE to be a techie to have good ideas, but in the same token you can't dismiss everything technical because you are not.

Anyways, all I have to do to be a engineer wold be to get my MSCE and how hard couyld that be?[sic]

Have you ever looked into the Society of Professional Engineers? For those that are not in the engineering field, many do not know this but in order to be considered a professional engineer there are not one, but two tests you must pass. Now this applies mostly to civil, mechanical and the like but computer engineering and other related engineering fields have tests and they are hard. I passed the first of these two tests (the second you actually need to work for four years under a professional engineer) before you can even take the test. The first test is an 8 hour long test that covers four years of what we learned in college. It's not for everyone. I found it easier than many would because I LIKE the material. Just as some people find it easier to write a novel than I would because that is not where my interests lie. Okay I'll get off my soapbox now too and let someone else on.

But... (0, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15717745)

Will it run Linux? Duck time, I know.

The only thing 6 years olds need to learn is to... (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15717746)

shut their pieholes!

Fist Prost bitches!

Why not? (5, Funny)

Moraelin (679338) | more than 8 years ago | (#15717747)

Why not? Back in my day, I sat all evening in front of the computer, and I learned all I need about functioning in society. Don't ninja-loot, don't let your pet aggro the whole room if you're a Warlock, get your shield from the vault before joining a raid if you're a Warrior or Paladin... err... ok, I see what you mean.

Re:Why not? (2, Funny)

arth1 (260657) | more than 8 years ago | (#15717959)

Yeah, but were you learning that using an Intel? If so, it's irrelevant to this discussion, which is about AMD K8... Er, or am I missing something?

Re:Why not? (3, Informative)

Praedon (707326) | more than 8 years ago | (#15717968)

To be very honest with any comments like this, and comments that bash schools online, everyone should take the time to visit a site called Electronic Classroom of Tomorrow [] . If it wasn't for this possibility, students that made a few bad mistakes, young teenage parents, and socially impaired individuals that I knew growing up would have just ended up dropping out all together and getting their GED. Instead, they got their high school diploma.

To anyone who thinks it isn't possible to sit in front of a computer at home to go to school, and actually learn, my sister was one of those people who graduated from Electronic Classroom of Tomorrow. I have never seen such a determined school in all my years of moving, relocating, and some REALLY bad experiences with normal schools. When I graduated back in the day, Electronic Classroom of Tomorrow JUST Came out, and I wish every day it would have came out a few years earlier.

The importance of having the option to elect out of a public school system, and to go to school online, is the best thing that has ever came to Ohio. For those individuals that can't handle the daily routine of public school systems, and the people who needed the extra help and support, that basically ALL School systems should cater to anyways, ECOT Is there for them here. It is a real school in Columbus, and they even have events, field trips, prom, graduation, and support staff that will work with you for at least several years after you graduate, to make sure you have someone to go to, if you needed that help.

We all know what kind of things happen in a public school system, and we know what can happen in a private school system. People can be so mean at times, and can knock other peoples self-esteem to no end. With ECOT, the people that I knew that used it, had their confidence boosted up, their self-esteem up, and they admitted to learning more at ecot than they ever did.

So think about that, when any of you take cracks at a Electronic Classroom... Cause if you farted around, they took their learning experience seriously, and normally you were suspended for not doing your homework and course work online. They were the only people to actually care for those, who felt they didn't fit in, and lost their self-esteem when others knocked it down. All Electronic Online Classrooms should be molded like ECOT.

Online Universities (1, Interesting)

Kuxman (876286) | more than 8 years ago | (#15717748)

If I were to hire an employee, I would disregard any degrees from online universities. Why should I (and any private high schools/colleges) consider a student who comes from an online middle school?

Re:Online Universities (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15717790)

I for one would be very careful not to look too hard at degrees or school names because I would be concearned that I might just by sheer presumption about a specific school, educational method or degree lock out the people who could become the greatest assets for my company/school ever...

But then again that's just how I look at people. I rather like to look at what the person is capable of myself rather that look at how others have judged that person and there are many ways to do that...

Re:Online Universities (1)

nkv (604544) | more than 8 years ago | (#15717932)

I'd prefer to do that as well but when you have 15 positions for which 15000 people apply, your selection metrics have to become a little coarse to reduce the number of applicants. Here in India, if someone's from an IIT, there's a VERY good chance that he'd be pretty good. If I get 15000 applications in which 15 are IITians (which is hard since they usually get good jobs quite quickly and don't have to compete with the masses), I'd definitely shortlist them. It's not just the University/college which they went to. It's the amount of effort/skill/intelligence that's necessary to get into a place like that which people usually look at. A sort of quick rule of thumb when you have too much data to process.

Re:Online Universities (4, Insightful)

syntaxglitch (889367) | more than 8 years ago | (#15717808)

There's more involved in a university environment than just the final degree. A lot of the value is in being surrounded by other intelligent folks and interacting with professors who know their stuff. In a middle school kids are forced to be there, so there's less benefit (if any) from peer groups, and we all know what happens when you have math or science being taught by someone whose only degree is in "education".

Actually, with all the potential for abuse an online program could have, as with home schooling, if someone comes from that sort of background and still knows their stuff (scores well on standardized tests, etc.) they're probably smarter and/or more self-motivated than someone with an equivalent score from a regular school.

Re:Online Universities (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15717929)

Now is the point where you get thoroughly embarrassed for being a completel moron: you cannot get an "education degree" without actually getting a degree in your chosen field. The only "education degrees" are special ed and Master's of Education - the latter requiring you already have a degree in your chosen subject.

To become a teacher, you earn your degree in your chosen field, just like everyone else, then you take some additional classes on education so that you can be certified to teach in whatever state(s) you intend to teach in. So, in reality, where you never bothered to check up on any of the facts, a teacher must not only earn the same degree as such great and powerful minds such as yourself, but they must actually do additional work in order to be allowed to teach it to other people.

I love how on Slashdot nobody ever seems to have any facts, but everything everyone says is Insightful and Interesting none-the-less. This entire place is like one great, big idiot convention.

Re:Online Universities (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15717828)

If I were to hire an employee, I would disregard any degrees from online universities.

Why? What do you value physical presence in a classroom?

Online Universities-correspondence courses. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15717866)

Well aside from the fact that your attitude goes counter to the "The Internet will save us. It's good for everything", slash-meme. You sound like someone who would have had a problem with correspondence courses (pre-internet). An accredited online school is just as good as any other (some are affiliated with brick and morter schools). Maybe what you should have said is either "I don't understand alternative education, so I'll dismiss it". Or "My education was a regular school which is naturally better than anything else, so I'll dismiss any faux-school alternatives".

Re:Online Universities (4, Insightful)

Shivetya (243324) | more than 8 years ago | (#15717868)

you are kidding right?

Why should even some regular college degrees deserve respect? Countless colleges allow students to pass through the system with degrees simply because they excel at sports. Many pass on students who only get through sub-par course.

That college degree doesn't come with a grade point average, is a C student at your local state university going to do as well as someone with a higher average from an online university?

Besides, doesn't this smack of elitism? We still have cases where some degrees are worth more than others. Some colleges are looked down upon because in truth the education they provide is better. Why not discriminate based on the fact that applicant A's football team regulary hands your school's ass to it every year?

Education is what you make of it. Public education is no longer about turning out good students who are well balanced with the skills needed to enter the real world. Its a damn jobs program with a bunch of social engineering thrown in to convince kids that the government knows whats good for them.

Re:Online Universities (2, Interesting)

Raideen (975130) | more than 8 years ago | (#15717880)

I went to brick and mortar schools--just online. The format works a lot better for me because it doesn't matter if the professor is boring as all hell. I'm not wasting time sitting through lectures and since it takes more independent learning, I know the material better. If they're properly accredited (i.e. not by Joe's Accreditation Board), what's the problem?

Re:Online Universities (4, Insightful)

Average_Joe_Sixpack (534373) | more than 8 years ago | (#15717892)

If I were to hire an employee, I would disregard any degrees from online universities
This is of course rubbish. As someone who has been in the position of hiring I can say there are many factors to consider. To "disregard" a resume based on the university is a disservice to the company and candidate. In more senior positions the education section is almost irrelevant.
If we're talking junior technical positions (ie straight out of school) then you will be expected to take a test prior to any sitdown interview. Often that means dozens of candidates in a room with all sorts of diverse backrounds (English majors to CS grads).

Re:Online Universities (2, Informative)

GigsVT (208848) | more than 8 years ago | (#15717896)

I would disregard any degrees from online universities

I think you should disregard all degrees, but beside that, why would you disregard online universities?

I've gone to physical university and I'm currently going to an online university, and I can tell you it's a hell of a lot more work and learning in the online one.

The classes don't have 500 people in them for one, unlike the physical university I went to. The professor actually interacts with us personally.

It also costs about 5 times more to go online, on the down side.

Re:Online Universities (1)

johnashby (819655) | more than 8 years ago | (#15717963)

This is why you are not in such a position. And yes, I would like fries with that.

What's the point of going to school... (1)

bakayoko (570822) | more than 8 years ago | (#15717751)

... if you can't hide surprises inside the teacher's desk?

Re:What's the point of going to school... (1)

LiquidCoooled (634315) | more than 8 years ago | (#15717768)

Sure you can,

Look, here is my english assignment s.bat.pif [] !

Re:What's the point of going to school... (1)

bakayoko (570822) | more than 8 years ago | (#15717775)


"Sorry, Liquid. I didn't get your English assignment. Can you try sending it again?"

What a blast.

Re:What's the point of going to school... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15717798)

Try this English assignment. [] You can learn a lot of things online, including some things you'd rather not know about...

first.. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15717755)

First post! an article with no meaning :(

Not the best idea (4, Insightful)

Mr. Underbridge (666784) | more than 8 years ago | (#15717757)

As the article says, you can't learn social skills sitting in front of a computer. And some of the people here on slashdot prove that. However, this is Chicago, and the public schools there ain't so safe. The article didn't mention it, but for families whose choices are 1) Send their kids to public schools where they'll either become criminals or get beat up by them, or 2) Use this virtual school, well, I'd keep them home. A lot of people in Chicago home school because the private schools are very expensive and the public schools are terrible.

Re:Not the best idea (0, Flamebait)

strider44 (650833) | more than 8 years ago | (#15717817)

So make sure you keep him snuggled up in bed and don't let him outside in case those bad kids get to him!

I think that you're too worried about the mere possibility of them becoming a bad criminal or getting beat up by them, when if they don't interact with kids of their own age then they're *definitely* going to become pretty fucked up.

I think a much better solution to your problem is to instead try and clean up the schools and get rid of the little arseholes in there.

Re:Not the best idea (4, Insightful)

Mr. Underbridge (666784) | more than 8 years ago | (#15717884)

I think that you're too worried about the mere possibility of them becoming a bad criminal or getting beat up by them, when if they don't interact with kids of their own age then they're *definitely* going to become pretty fucked up.

Depends on the school. When you think "public school," you're probably thinking of the ones near where you grew up. In that case, dealing with the annual wedgie is no reason to pull the kids out of school. However, I think they may be much worse in Chicago than you might be used to. In many of these schools, violence is pretty much guaranteed. Now I'm definitely against home schooling - those kids turn out like complete losers way too often - but if your school has a statistically defined murder rate, I'll take the loser over the dead kid.

I think a much better solution to your problem is to instead try and clean up the schools and get rid of the little arseholes in there.

I'd have to agree with you, but the bleeding hearts in this country would never let that happen. To them, it's apparently better to subject 1000 kids to daily violence and a shitty education than to "leave behind" a few kids. Since that choice (getting rid of the arseholes) isn't available to parents, you have to get your kid away from the arseholes. Sometimes, some form of home schooling (or charter schooling) is the only real option.

Fortunately, the wife and I are very lucky, as we have good jobs that allow us to live in a very good area that has probably the best public schools (non-magnet) in the country. So, unless we pack up and move to Compton, our kids will never have to face that. But for parents who are not so lucky, it can be a hard decision when your kid gets beaten up everyday. Or when you start hearing about kids bringing guns to school. Or when your kid starts getting pressured to join a gang. Or when your 12 year old daughter starts getting hit on a little too strongly by convicted 17-year-old rapists. At that point, you do what you have to do to get them out.

Re:Not the best idea (2, Insightful)

Fiznarp (233) | more than 8 years ago | (#15717909)

Kids don't have to go to school to socialize with kids their own age. They interact with neighborhood friends, or join a club (Boy/Girl Scouts, 4-H), etc.

It's a common concern that home schooled children lack social skills, but I've found it to be quite the opposite. The home schooled kids I know are better socially than most of the public school children I've met. Guess what? Home schoolers don't stay at home all day. They often take trips to educational and recreactional places. They meet up with other families and have fun.

I think home school kids actually socialize *better* than public school kids. They tend to hang out with other children who have a positive impact on their social development, rather than children who might get them into trouble.

Speaking as an adult who was home schooled through the 8th grade (then I went to a public high school), I'm very glad I was given the opportunity to grow up in this environment. Sure there are some extremists out there who give home schooling a bad name, but you'll have that in any situation.

Having said that, the key to making this work is loving parents who take an active role in their child's development. I'm not sure if teaching kids via computer will have the desired effect if the parents are not involved to help externally socialize the children.

Re:Not the best idea (1, Interesting)

JanneM (7445) | more than 8 years ago | (#15717833)

Which brings up a point - why is this any worse than home schooling? It seems like exactly the same thing, except here the kid is taught by actual teachers and a syllabus with (assumedly) some idea about giving a balanced education, not whatever lunatic fairy tales the homeschooling parent happens to want to impart.

Re:Not the best idea (1)

Mr. Underbridge (666784) | more than 8 years ago | (#15717894)

Which brings up a point - why is this any worse than home schooling? It seems like exactly the same thing, except here the kid is taught by actual teachers and a syllabus with (assumedly) some idea about giving a balanced education, not whatever lunatic fairy tales the homeschooling parent happens to want to impart.

I think the people who criticize this would also criticize home schooling. This is basically home schooling with some help. It also gives the home schoolers affiliation with an actual school district in exchange for following a real curriculum, to ensure, as you put it, that the home schoolers aren't learning lunatic fairy tales. Seems like a win-win to me, for those parents who have decided to home school already.

Re:Not the best idea (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15717961)

This could also be better than a home school only solution. Since a kid is enrolled in a district endorsed program, that kid might have access to extracurricular activities(athletics, drama, band). This could alleviate any social hinderances brought on by a homeschool only solution.
Also, for parents, the district approved curriculum can reduce hassles from the state.

Re:Not the best idea (1)

Savage-Rabbit (308260) | more than 8 years ago | (#15717843)

As the article says, you can't learn social skills sitting in front of a computer. And some of the people here on slashdot prove that. However, this is Chicago, and the public schools there ain't so safe. The article didn't mention it, but for families whose choices are 1) Send their kids to public schools where they'll either become criminals or get beat up by them, or 2) Use this virtual school, well, I'd keep them home. A lot of people in Chicago home school because the private schools are very expensive and the public schools are terrible.

At best this is no more than another tool to use for those who have opted for home schooling. One thing is for sure, andyboy who expects to be able to plant his/her children in front of a computer and have them start doing math lessons on the internet unsupervised is delusional. Kids will not sit and do math or physics lessons when they could be playing Quake or running around the neighborhood getting into trouble with their friends (putting potatoes in peoples exhaust pipes, dropping firecrackers into mailboxes etc...) and they will abscond the second you look away. Children need teachers if they are to learn anything. I can see how a virtual learning service would be useful if you opt for home schooling because your public schools are training camps for aspiring criminals and you can't afford a private school but I would always prefer a public or private school to home schooling and home schooling to unsupervised virtual learning.

Re:Not the best idea (-1, Troll)

duffbeer703 (177751) | more than 8 years ago | (#15717972)

School isn't about teaching "social skills" -- and whatever skills it does teach have more to do with subjecting yourself to hierarchy or ganging up on those who don't conform.

Despite whatever the teacher unions claim, public schools are an expensive and abysmal failure. The fact that parents line up to send their kids to charter schools whenever they open is testimony to that.

But what about socialising? (1, Insightful)

Nursie (632944) | more than 8 years ago | (#15717760)

I object to this in the same way as I object a bit to homeschooling - sure the kid will learn stuff, but they won't learn to be around other people their own age, how to work with others, or how to be a member of society in general. Some may consider that a blessing, but I certainly wouldn't. I think it'll lead to some serious problems when they finally are turned out into the world.

Re:But what about socialising? (5, Insightful)

CdXiminez (807199) | more than 8 years ago | (#15717800)

Social things learned in school:

Don't be smart around stupid people - they'll come and beat you up for it.
Avoid gatherings of other people - they'll beat you up because you 'looked funny at them'.
Don't speak to classmates - they'll chase you around the school yard for using 'funny words'.
Hate - it's difficult to learn to love people who chase you all the way home.

Should I go on?

I know, this doesn't go for everybody, but I can see that this on-line teaching will do some people a lot of good.

Re:But what about socialising? (3, Insightful)

professionalfurryele (877225) | more than 8 years ago | (#15717830)

Yeah the problem you describe is now very serious. What we need to do is to show kids that being smart is rewarded. Here is how I envision the system working. If there is an incident in school, we just assume that the smart kids were behaving apropriately. I mean no system of 'justice' actually works. In school it is the big kids who rule, in the 'real' world the rich rule. Why not set up our schools so that the individuals who win are the most useful?

Re:But what about socialising? (1)

chrismcdirty (677039) | more than 8 years ago | (#15717903)

When I was in high school, the smart kids actually got punished more seriously than the screwups. The advisors "expected more from us," while the screwups were always in the advisors' offices and built up a friendly relationship, resulting in slaps on the wrist when they broke the rules every week.

Re:But what about socialising? (1)

Bogtha (906264) | more than 8 years ago | (#15717890)

Don't be smart around stupid people - they'll come and beat you up for it.

I agree that socialisation in school is crappy. But to play devil's advocate, would you really prefer it if your kid didn't learn that other people might resent his intelligence, so when he starts work he thinks that everybody is stupid and he's clueless about why people get pissed off with him?

I was significantly smarter than my peers all through school, and at first I didn't actually realise that other people had difficulty understanding the things the teachers were saying, I took it for granted that everybody else was as smart as I was. If I hadn't had school to get me used to it and teach me how to handle this situation gracefully, I'd have had a massive shock when the time came to get a job, and I'd probably form much lower opinions of other people.

Look at it from the opposite direction - schools might teach "don't be smart around stupid people", but they also teach "don't look down on people who aren't as smart as you".

Re:But what about socialising? (1)

RsG (809189) | more than 8 years ago | (#15717925)

Don't forget:

Have sex as early and often as possible. Sex makes people cool! Don't use a condom either; real men pull out!
Drink hard and drive fast. You'll live forever, don't worry!
The bong is your best friend. Listen to his years of wisdom.

Seriously, who the hell thinks school does kids a lick of good? Teaching kids = good, socializing kids = good, throwing kids into an enviroment of peer pressure and rampant apathy = BAD. If you can somehow meet the first two without getting into the third, then what's the problem? I'll admit that "online" schooling might not help much with getting kids used to socializing, but there's gotta be better ways to do that then to drop them into a free for all full of their peers.

I think the entire current school system needs a rehaul. I'm not sure what it oughta be, but what it is is a waste. Half the people I grew up with have horrible memories of the place; the other half are dropouts.

Re:But what about socialising? (1)

ObsessiveMathsFreak (773371) | more than 8 years ago | (#15717930)

Should I go on?

Please, allow me

Justice is arbitrary.
Law is arbitrary.
Society is the Tribe.
Keep Your PLace.
Don't Rock The Boat.

Nobody Cares. Nobody.

School would have been a great place if it wasn't for all the fucking teenagers.

Re:But what about socialising? (1)

Koadah (988847) | more than 8 years ago | (#15717811)

Yep, very good point. However, the world is a very varied place and school is not going to be the right place for everyone. Children are likely to be expected to attend some face to face group sessions. Probably at least once a week. Parents will also need to get the children to other social events. E.g. church, scouts, sports clubs e.t.c.

Re:But what about socialising? (5, Insightful)

cbelle13013 (812401) | more than 8 years ago | (#15717822)

There are plenty of other ways to socialize your kid beside sending them to school. You can have them go to Karate two nights a week, soccer two nights, piano/music lessons one night a week, and maybe an art class or two. Then it's up to you as a parent what your child learns, instead of some public school. Plus you'll actually meet the people teaching your child, as opposed to some 23 year old who just graduated and needed a job.

I don't think the homeschoolers of today are the same ones of 25-30 years ago. Most parents I know who intend to homeschool are not religious nuts. They just don't want their kids to go to government schools for obvious reasons.

Re:But what about socialising? (4, Insightful)

syntaxglitch (889367) | more than 8 years ago | (#15717823)

Uhm. Since when is school the only place for kids to socialize?

Not to mention, that a harmful social environment is potentially worse than no socialization at all. It's fairly easy for a public school to become a Lord of the Flies scenario, with a combination of kids who have to be there, a self-contained social structure with no goal or purpose, and administrators who don't care.

School is supposed to be for learning, anyhow. Let the kids socialize on their own time. Maybe if they actually taught kids things in school instead of "socializing" them, things would work better in the first place.

Put the kool-aid down. (4, Insightful)

Shivetya (243324) | more than 8 years ago | (#15717824)

And quit parroting the teacher union's crap they spew about home schooling.

Look, anyone can find examples of students both home schooled and public schooled and use that as reasons to support their side of the story. Fact is home school kids do just fine in society, many scoring far higher than their peers.

home schooling is villified by those who fear its results. Common methods include claims of lack of socialization with peers or religious dogma. Usually the "religious angle" is played out more up north than elsewhere.

You can expect similar arguments from the Teachers Unions and those who are held in its thrall to any advance in education which leads to a loss of their power and influence.

Re:But what about socialising? (2, Insightful)

xusr (947781) | more than 8 years ago | (#15717879)

I am about to make some generalizations based on my experience and the experiences of colleagues.

My experience has shown precisely the opposite. Homeschooling, when done well, produces individuals that are better equipped to meet the world and its challenges than "traditional" schooling. Instead of being surrounded by individuals of one's same age (and, often, one's same race, social status, etc) the homeschooler learns how to interact with people of all different ages, and adults in particular. Most homeschoolers I know actually spend more time at the local school, theater (stage, not cinema), library or college than they do at home.. Respect for adults, something conspicuously missing from many young people these days, is the norm among homeschoolers.

To say that a "traditional" school is the only way to get a grasp on society is preposterous. This is not to say that homeschooling is failproof; I have also known homeschoolers that completely fit the bill of the sheltered and socially-backwards. Pointing to these as the standard of homeschooling, however, is akin to leveling any other group of people to their lowest (but loudest) population.

Finally back to the topic, I can see this sort of online schooling to be an asset for the homeschooling community. Again, if used in isolation, it will almost certainly result in awkwardness. Homogeneity in ethos and context inspires only lethargic lemmings. I would submit that traditional schooling is the actual socially restricting option.

Re:But what about socialising? (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15717882)

How are children supposed to learn how to be adults? It used to be children learned how to be adults by being around adults, now they learn how to be adults by being around other children and watching TV. And we wonder why they are so messed up. We wonder why we do not have money for books, but we have the better security in our schools than in our airports.

I have seen some posts about home schooled children here, but how many of you have met them? In my experience, they are far more mature, better socialized, and exist in a more "real" world. Of course, it takes a lot of time and commitment from their parents. How's that again? Parents make a difference?

Who ever came up with the thought that children should learn how to be a person from other children. Watch them sometime, they are monsters. They naturally are selfish, violent, intolerant, agressive/passive agressive. They are animals, and this is what we want them to learn?

What about the future? (1)

JavaNPerl (70318) | more than 8 years ago | (#15717898)

What if telecommuting becomes common place and kids who have learned through virtual schools have an advantage over kids who learned in a more traditional manner? I've worked on a few jobs via telecommuting and I have found that there are some people who just can't handle that type environment. Some people miss the social interaction of the office, get too distracted at home, or need too much hand holding to effectively work outside of the office.

Re:But what about socialising? (1)

ClubStew (113954) | more than 8 years ago | (#15717899)

I don't think the kids would even learn so much. How many times do teachers have to say "[Jimmy], pay attention!" Most kids don't have the greatest attention span (damn dreamers - ridalin for everyone!). Put them in front of a computer - even with supposed blocks, which at least one person will work around then post on MySpace for everyone else to do - and they will do other things.

When will this country (USA - maybe even others, too) wake up and realize that we should put more focus - not less, and not closing down schools all over - on our kids' education. They are the future - good or bad. I prefer good (i.e., well-educated).

Re:But what about socialising? (1)

Dahlgil (631022) | more than 8 years ago | (#15717923)

I don't homeschool but I have done some activities with homeschoolers and one thing I can say is that there is nothing necessarily isolating about it. In fact, many homeschoolers band together in groups/organizations that form a unique kind of social network that has no real analog in the conventional school system. In some ways the term "home school" is a bit of a misnomer as it conveys that students always remain confined at home. I'm not saying that some homeschoolers avoid networking or that there are not other issues with homeschooling; but in terms of being able to work with others or learning how to be a member of society by interacting with other peers, I don't think this is necessarily the problem some think it is. In fact, overall there is probably just as large a risk (if not larger) that students in conventional schools will become social misfits by connecting with wrong peer groups as homeschooers will have of becoming social misfits by having limited social interaction. As far as this virtual classroom stuff goes, I am very much opposed to that. I'm a software engineer and have spent a lot of time with computers in the classroom. But they are tools, not teachers. There is something intuitively bad about sitting a student in front of a computer and saying "have at it", even if there is a teacher available online. Remember that teachers are not just conveyers of information, but they are also ever-present role models and supervisors. If you take those latter things away, you may be able to still pump information into the student, but will they be educated? I guess it all depends on what you believe education is.

Irony (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15717770)

You can't sit a child in front of a computer and expect him to learn things he needs to succeed in society

Funny... that's how I feel about the school system...

Oh really? (2, Informative)

9x320 (987156) | more than 8 years ago | (#15717781)

This website [] allows you to read an entire Holt, Rhineheart, and Winston textbook online if you already have a keyword from a textbook you buy online. If you're into foreign languages, it has French, German, and Spanish, and aside from that,

These [] sites [] teach [] you [] basic [] Japanese [] if [] you [] study [] enough. []

Parents just have to watch to make sure their children aren't looking at porn instead of studying and help them along.

Re:Oh really? (1)

Oligonicella (659917) | more than 8 years ago | (#15717844)

That's not the meaty issue. At heart is the need to have some basic assurance the person has actually learned something useful. No that the public system is any better at it.

The person also has to have the basic skills of interacting peacefully with their co-workers. Not ranting, swearing, playing dangerous pranks, or pranks at all, for that matter. It's not their time -- something posters here seem to have a hard time understanding. Many home-schooling parents treat the teaching as a job; make the kid study certain subjects in certain orders, spend distinct times at tasks, etc. Most don't. It would probably be worse on-line. This gives people a sense of entitlement and the "I can manage my time effectively" attitude when they actually are lousy at it.

Show me an on-line high-school diploma or a university one earned by a less-than-adult and I'll show the holder the door.

Re:Oh really? (1)

captainPenguin13 (958583) | more than 8 years ago | (#15717854)

There's a HGUE difference between being multi-lingual and being socially adept. Books can teach you all shorts of things, but they can't teach you how to interact with the world. I know a ton of people who have insanely high IQs, are multi-lingual, had insanely high SATs and and acing college like nobody's business; but can't for the life of them walk up to another human being and hold a conversation that isn't about WoW or their classes. This is a good idea for the aquisition of intellectual knowledge, but if it's implemented everywhere we're going to have a nation full of people who can't interact with each other because they never had the chance to learn it. "So yeah, 10 out of 10 for style, but minus several million for good thinking, yeah?"

Like home school (3, Informative)

MxTxL (307166) | more than 8 years ago | (#15717784)

In the end, like homeschooling, it boils down to the parents taking responsibility for their children doing the work. Maybe with virtual school the teacher can do a little bit to make students sit stil, but surely it's still mostly on the parents to make sure the work gets done. That is a scary thought since many parents these days completely abdicate their parental duties.

And this doesn't speak to the socialization aspect. Half of what is taught in school isn't just the three R's. The other half is how to become a responsible adult functioning in a society where you must interact with others. Sheltering kids from the outside world does not teach them that.

Re:Like home school (1)

rowama (907743) | more than 8 years ago | (#15717858)

You are unquestionably correct in that the quality of a child's learning is the parent's responsibility. That is why giving the parent choices is vital. The same applies to the quality of socialization -- It is the parent's responsibility. The parent may not want her child to be socialized in the PS environment, and she should have that choice.

Every time the socialization argument comes up (in regard to homeschooling), I wonder what civilized people did to socialize their children before the advent of public school. Was the world full of socially incompetent people before public schooling came to the rescue? I think not.

How would this be... (2, Interesting)

thebdj (768618) | more than 8 years ago | (#15717787)

any different then regular home schooling? The biggest deficiency in both will be a lack of interaction with other students. You know the sort of interaction that helps develop good social and behavioral skills when we are young, and yes, I can attest to many home-schooled individuals that I know who were sadly underdeveloped in these areas. Concerns from teachers on this are not really going to make me concerned; these are people who are worried they may be without jobs if this catches on too quickly or too much.

Yes, there is a lack of PE; however, if you are done with school in half the time and/or can be much more flexible with when you are actually doing school work, children can find plenty of time to take on physical activities, which is really the main reason for having PE in the first place. I am not going to worry too much about the lack of music in the system either. Most of my grade school musical education was a complete waste. I barely remember the musical scale (though that might be better then most my peers), and I certainly wouldn't have felt cheated if I got to hear less Bach, Beethoven, et. al. I actually would be surprised if 1/2 the US population even realized they heard a piece by a famous composer in their lifetime.

I think this is actually a good idea and a bad one at the same time. On one hand, I would be a bit worried about children not gaining certain social skills that develop during these early school years. On the other, I believe it would be a great thing for children who have problems focusing in class or for those who have had behavioral issues, because this is a far better alternative then the "alternative" schools I have heard stories about in most every school district.

Re:How would this be... (1)

will_die (586523) | more than 8 years ago | (#15717905)

That social problems is a major myth spread by groups opposed to home schooling, such as the NEA, where you get quotes such as "Home schooling is a form of child abuse because you are isolating children from human interaction."
Sure you are going to get some kids with social problems that are in home schooling, same as you are going to get kids with social problems that attend a normal school, such as Columbine. However you look at studies you find there is no such difference. for instance a study by the University of Florida showed vido tapes of various kids at play and in group activies, home schooled and otherwise, to trained counselors. The counselors were unable to tell the differences between the two, except that the home schooled ones were better behaved.

homeschooling ignorance (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15717907)

Homeschooled children usually have more interaction with other children, in a more productive manner. (Quality over quantity)

Homeschool programs and families usually are part of a "homeschool coop". Aka groups of families or churches that work together for homeschooling. People with special skills or education will teach certain courses to a group of "homeschooled" kids in a group setting. The ties are much tighter. These are the same children that are involved in youth groups, ministry work, camps outside of their homeschooling daytime hours.

Also, with PE, homeschool coops usually cover this as well. I'll be teaching an archery class (3-4 hours a week). Sports and activities homeschoolers partake in are more active than typical school PE since in a public school, if you are not the alpha male or female, you are a benchwarmer. Theres plenty of NON-SCHOOL ran local sports teams to join. (JOAD, CYA, baby ruth, soccerm popwarner, karate, ballet, etc). And most of the local Homeschool COOPs in the northeast I know of do weekly ski trips, and other activities.

Just remember, just because you were not homeschooled, it does not make your education any better.

(No, I was not homeschooled, I was socially inept due to moving 30 times between the ages of 3 - 18, and public schools all over the country suck)

Re:How would this be... (1)

Secrity (742221) | more than 8 years ago | (#15717951)

This may be better than regular home schooling because it is taught by real teachers and there are more resources available. Some parents do a good job at home schooling their kids, many parents -- not so much. There are potential socialization problems with regular school, home school, and on-line school. This would eliminate the bullying and harassment problems for "nerds" or gay students. If done properly, this could help those students who would normally lose interest in a class because they are more advanced than the rest of the class. I understand that music (and art) education has already been squeezed out of many traditional schools, this could be an opportunity to expose students to musical (and art) history at a modest cost to the school district.

Unions are bad m'kay (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15717796)

All I heard when the teachers union responded was "OH GOD, if people can learn online what do parents need with teachers, or more importantly what will happen when the union revenues from membership fees start dropping!!"

What a load of rubbish. (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15717802)

A lot of my education was self-directed study in front of a computer without any teachers, and I was in at top university doing a physics degree by the time I was 17, finished by the time I was 19 years old, was working at a major software company as a software architect with a multi-million dollar budget at 20 years old. I'm now 21 and a director and major shareholder of a different technology company. The folk I know who had similar educations are doing similarly well.

Socially I'm fine as well: Got a long term girlfriend, plenty of friends, great family.

Put bluntly, the schools can fuck off. - The only reason they're up upset is that they've realised new methods of education are better for today than the old fashioned schools they work in, so they're are out to protect their jobs at the expense of our young people's education and the profitability of nations.

No need to make friends (0, Troll)

strider44 (650833) | more than 8 years ago | (#15717803)

After all, there's absolutely *no* reason for someone to be at school other than to learn is there? Who cares about forming relationships with other people, learning how to socially interact and getting exercise.

I think that we should just lock our children up until they're twenty one and by then they'll have learnt everything they need!

Re:No need to make friends (1)

mobby_6kl (668092) | more than 8 years ago | (#15717966)

Of course, there's no way to form relationships outside schools. And there's only one place where kids can exercise, and that's the school gym!

Why don't we just lock children up in schools until they're 21, so they can have all the social interaction and exercise the need?

Hmm... (2, Interesting)

badevlad (929181) | more than 8 years ago | (#15717810)

The care of social education is shifted on parental shoulders.
But most of them do not think about it at all.

It can work. (5, Informative)

rowama (907743) | more than 8 years ago | (#15717812)

The summary quote is misleading. Before I actually read the article, I envisioned hordes of children sitting in front of computers operating some sort of computer based training s/w. If you read the article, the children are not just sitting in front of a computer. There is an entire support structure built around virtualizing the important aspects of their learning experience. The support structure starts with a parent who cares and continues with curricula, equipment, supplies, and facilities provided by the city's education system.

I know that homeschooling works, and works well, because my daughter is homeschooled. She scores very high on achievement tests. She is so socialized (outside of public school), we have to sometimes limit her socializing in order to spend non-educational time with her. When she started high school level curricula, we associated ourselves with an umbrella school for advise, transcripting, focused tutoring, etc. This took some of the anxiety off of us when we started considering college prep issues.

This Chicago effort appears to merge the homeschooling concept with oversight by the city's education system. This closely parallels what we have found to be a very successful combination.

so true (5, Insightful)

Adartse.Liminality (742343) | more than 8 years ago | (#15717815)

'You can't sit a child in front of a computer and expect him to learn things he needs to succeed in society,'
That's so true it hurts
A basic element of learning-teaching is the teacher, who just can't be replaced, the kids need far more than data, need also affection, support, guidance and motivation, I find hard to believe a computer will provide much of it, not to mention that we might see physical problems later and probably conductual issues.

He and his mother say they look forward to building a better relationship through schoolwork.
A common lie, every teacher knows...that it might be true for a lil' while, but later: "ain't doin' your work".

don't get me started in the lack of arts, music and p.e.

This is appropriate for some students ... but (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15717818)

There are many different learning styles. What works for one student doesn't work for others. For instance, a visual learner gains nothing from a lecture. Computer based learning works for some people. Indeed, for a few people, computer based learning is the only thing that works (other than a private tutor). For instance, some students can't get anywhere near a classroom full of students because of anxiety attacks.

The problem I have with this is that students will be selected (or select themselves) for the virtual classroom based on criteria that have nothing to do with their appropriate learning style.

Yeah right. (5, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15717825)

These are the same teachers that say, "you cant educate a child at home and expect him/her to get the skills they need to succeed in the world." Yet home schooled kids are far better educated than public school educated kids. Teachers unions will always go against anything that does not use them as the delivery system.

People want alternatives, Public schools suck, Teachers do not do their jobs, administrators do as little as possible to get by, the social atmosphere inside the school is very similar to that of a state prison. Middle School is simply 3 years of cruel punishment to kids and the public schools refuse to do anything to fix it.

Parents are seeking out charter and private schools in droves because of the poor quality of public schools, this is another step that allows the child a huge amount of educational freedom. Unsupervised, yes a kid would rather play than learn something that they would consider useless to them at that time. (Social Studies, English, Math) but with supervision a kid that understands math like it was her native language can accellerate way past everyone else including her teacher and get the education she needs. I remember being berated by a science teacher in school because I disagreed. I brough in a paper that proved that I was right and I was sent to the office for being a smart-ass. Teachers in schools hate it when they encounter a child that is smarter than they are and they lash out at those kids to get them back in line. When a kid knows far more about astronomy and astrophysics than the 8th grade general science teacher knows that teacher should STFU instead of telling the kid to STFU.

I am all for anything that eliminates the bad teachers, and that means upsetting the entire teachers union, so be it.

Private schooled kids are better educated.
Charter schooled kids are better educated.
Home schooled kids are better educated.
finally I will bet that computer schooled kids are better educated.
when compared to public schools.

It is a written in stone fact. only the fools believe otherwise.
Unfortunately, most of the poor can not afford the $200-$300 a month for their kids private school tuition.

200-300$ month? try $2000-6000 (2, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15717957)

Most daycares are more than $200 a week. Think way way more

Financial Interest (4, Insightful)

CharlieG (34950) | more than 8 years ago | (#15717861)

Just remember that the Union has a significant interest in opposing ALL charter schools. From what I can see, most teachers unions have never met a Charter School that they liked....

Wonder why? Is it the kids, or is it the jobs/pay of the teachers...

Teacher's Union in Canada (4, Interesting)

roman_mir (125474) | more than 8 years ago | (#15717862)

In Canada, the Teacher's Union uses its powers to hold this country hostage once in a while. Public school teachers are basically government employees, they get summers for vacations, they get benefits, above average salaries, and they often (just about every year) exercise their union powers on the people of this country. When they strike during the school-year, they are putting millions of families into really difficult situations - the kids have to stay home, someone has to be there or someone has to be hired or a parent has to stay home, if it is a single-parent family, then it is even more difficult (I have no kids, but I see this all the time.) The kids' education suffers, they have nothing to do during the strike, many of them can go to the streets and do whatever, join gangs maybe?

In Ontario, the provincial liberal government is gutless, they always cave in to ANY union, and so they just give away our money for no reason, and the unions know this and they take advantage of this even more than in the rest of the country. Teachers get more 'professional development' days (during business days) in Ontario than anywhere else it seems like and they don't really spend those days for any development, and this happens while in private organizations PD days are taken during weekends. Those who bother to show up for those days don't really learn anything new, or if there is anything, it is all about the administrative part. In reality, teachers have entire summers that could be dedicated to 'improvement' in their profession, but what they do, is get summer jobs and make even more money instead. (they earn all of their money in the winter, but those ARE the money for the entire year, but they get to work 2 jobs and make double during the summer, isn't that great for them?)

So whenever I hear that a teacher's union opens their collective mouths to say something, all I can think of is that the parents, the kids, and the rest of the society is about to get a shaft.

(Ontario, you have to wake up and fire this union, fire those teachers who are lazy and useless and get yourself into a better alternative deal.)

The Union opposes it? (2)

Aladrin (926209) | more than 8 years ago | (#15717874)

Disclaimer: I don't like unions.

For the Teacher's Union to oppose this is like a cow opposing a new steak restaurant. Of COURSE they don't want it. The reasons given will probably not be the real reasons, either.

Quite simply, this means fewer teachers and probably lower pay for teachers as well.

And since when do teachers have responsibility for our children? Oh, that's right, it used to be that way and recently we've taken away all their power. They can't discipline children, they can't even give them a good stern talking to without a parent claiming they are singling out their child. And now they think they have the right to dictate WHERE children are taught? Yeah, right.

If a parent wants to send their child to a virtual school, LET THEM. It's FAR better than home schooling. There WILL be interactions with other people, just not interactions as people born in the 50s require. My best friends are on the internet, not local. (I'm 29.) You CAN learn to work with others at a distance. You CAN learn to appreciate that others have feelings. In fact, with the internet being what it is, I find it vital that they DO learn that skill. Many people today hide behind the internet and use it to 'grief' people, inside games and outside.

This type of school will require a different teaching style, of course. There will have to be more emphasis on group projects and individual accountability within groups. I have seen very little of that in public schools, and not much more in college, despite the 'group project' class we had for programming.

And this isn't saying there won't be field trips and occasional group physical projects. There just won't be an official classroom to have to go to every day.

Also, let's not forget the time savings. Riding the bus to school is an hour trip. Another hour getting home. That's 2 more hours for studying, socializing, or relaxing, depending on how the teacher deals with it. I think you might find that 2 hours is a LOT of extra time to get things done.

This goes WAY beyond 'we're not forcing them to socialize'. This could be a very very useful method of teaching children.

Last, as noted in other posts, some schools have severe problems with violence. Those same students will still be disruptive, but when they can be contained with a click of a button and prevent disruption of the class, without taking away their option to learn (1-way communication, instead of group conference for that student) then most of their motivation is gone. Class clowns won't have a reason to pull that for more than a few seconds.

Something to think about.

not much different than ... (1)

rs232 (849320) | more than 8 years ago | (#15717881)

'You can't sit a child in front of a computer and expect him to learn things he needs to succeed in society,'

Not much different than sitting at a desk as some teacher reads a book outloud while simultaneously writing it out on a blackboard. You write what's on the board into a jotter. At the end of the 'lesson' he walks out without ever making eye contact.

The only skill I ever learned in education was how to stand up or sit down at the sound of a bell.

subsidized home schooling (2, Insightful)

fermion (181285) | more than 8 years ago | (#15717883)

One big reason to question this is because it sounds like the school district is subsidizing the cost of home schooling. Now, some might say that if a person pays taxes, and their child does not go to a public school, then it is only fair to get a rebate to educate their child. But that assumes taxes are paid in exchange for service, which is largely untrue. For example, with that logic, if I do not have children, then I should receive a rebate of those taxes because I do not use the service. No, taxes are used to put programs into effect that are deemed necessary for the good of the country. This is why we pay taxes used to kill people even if we believe killing people is wrong.

The quality of education is another big issue. If a parent chooses to homeschool a child, and goes through the hurdles, then as a society we must respect that choice, and given that the parent has shown some responsibility, the chances are good the education will be adequate. But what about the parent that is just told their kid no longer has to go to school? Is that parent going to work for 7 hours to keep the kid on task? Is that parent going to teach organizational skill. Is that parent going to make sure the kid goes to the library once a week, differentiate problem concepts, learns how to eat at a table? One reason homeschooling has become so popular is that schools increasingly have to teach much more than content, and parents would rather teach those other things themselves. The one benefit of this program is that the child will be subject to NCLB, as opposed to if he or she was at a private or home school.

As this program moves to higher grades, the problems increase. We are already seeing schools setup specifically to manufacture credit for athletes, thus denying them their socially guaranteed education. Todays NYT reported that this practice even has formally infected colleges, as if that is a surprise. There are other kids that the school would want to educate a home, kids that often would do much better with the structure at school. Inevitable this program will be used to move certain students out of the school system.

Virtual schooling will happen, and this experiment will be widely watched. It is not just about saving teaching jobs. It is about making sure that public education does not become more useless than it is. There are innovation within the school that can reduce costs while still allowing teachers to pay adequate attention to students. Likewise there are kids that might do better or equally well at home. However, history tells us that much of the innovation over the past 40 years has been to reverse Brown.

American solution (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15717914)

The American public school system at certain cities, etc. is simply horrible.
Not only because it is underfunded, but also, because schools reflects all the tensions, increasing devide between rich and poor.
Education and school used to be one of the best tool to help mobility in society, the American educational system is now run almost the opposite way: access to the quality of education is now greatly dependent on the parents status in society, it is no longer the place where all kids can start with equal chances.

In America, where today even wars, natural disasters, prison system etc. are looked at as privatized business opportunities this proposed educational system does not come as a surprize. Education has ben labour intensive, this is a "great" way to eliminate this, some political-party friendly businesses will make huge profit of the teacherless, schooless "education".

Only the kids will be screwed for life. But maybe that's the bigger goal. Maybe one day the entire low class, poor population of America will be shipped out to Mexico or other developing nations and America will be the country for the rich all over the world.
This way American elections will guarantee that the US world police status remain intact, truly representing their voter base: the richest from all countries.

Until then, if you ask any succesful person, chances are, they have been inspired to achieve their goals by an outstanding teacher in a school.

Three Thoughts (1)

harvey_peterson (658039) | more than 8 years ago | (#15717927)

For most students, a virtual/cyber/online school is not going to be a good solution since it takes away the socialization aspect of education (a very, very important part of development).

However, online schools do offer many advantages; especially for kids with special needs.
There are many kids who can't attend a physical school because of allergens, skin diseases, etc. Some school from home because school is a dangerous place (like, if you're wearing a hijab). Other kids are super-smart and need a school that runs at their pace.
For most kids, home-schooling fills this need. But not all parents are teachers and it helps to have the guidance of a professional.

The real issue is money. In most states the school district where the child lives has to pay the online school most or all of the money for that student. That can be a LOT of cash.

If the teacher's union were smart, they'd unionize the new teachers.

It's very simple. (1)

LaughingCoder (914424) | more than 8 years ago | (#15717931)

When a union opposes something there is always only 1 reason: self-interest. This is true for any union, and always has been. Likewise when a company opposes something it is also for 1 reason: self-interest. Sure, the teachers union will *claim* it's "about the children", but that is simply not the case. Now don't get me wrong -- I don't have a problem with that. I accept it, and believe, actually, that is the true role of a union. It's all about balance. But please, can we not pretend the teacher's union is really more concerned for the children than they are for protecting their own interests?

As regards online middle school, I say "why not?". Maybe I've consumed too much of the "diversity koolaid", but my view is, let's try a bunch of things. Different types of school environments are best for different types of children. Let's give parents and children some choices. Why is that such a bad thing?

So? (1)

rspress (623984) | more than 8 years ago | (#15717933)

If the nations test scores are any indication you can't put kids in the classroom and expect them to learn what they need to succeed either.

Do you think that the teachers are afraid the computer taught kids will do much better than the school taught kids? You bet!

sh1it%?! (-1, Redundant)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15717954)

Conversation And are the important

Homeschooling (4, Informative)

FJ (18034) | more than 8 years ago | (#15717978)

First, let me point out that I have a child who is homeschooling. He is in second grade, so we've only been doing this for 3 years. I was very cautious about this, but my wife really wanted to try it. Virtual elementary schools have been around prior to this. We looked at one when my son started first grade but decided against it.

The most common question we get about it is "what about social skills". A lot of people who homeschool make very conscious efforts to make sure their kids receive social skills. We are involved in co-ops, we do field trips with other homeschool kids, there are sporting activities, and he has other kids in the neighborhood. The best argument I heard about schools & social skills was this: teachers don't want you to be social during classes. When you were growing up were you allowed to talk in class? Of course not. You talked between classes and at lunch. Most of the social skills you received were not tought by a teacher but interaction with other kids. This can be gained outside of school too.

Yes, my son does behave different than some other kids. Some things are good and some are bad. He doesn't really understand that some questions are very awkward to ask in public, he tends to interrupt, and his patience isn't the best. On the other hand, he can talk to any adult much more easily than I ever could and he naturally asks questions if he doesn't understand something. When interacting with other kids I don't really notice a difference. He interacts with his public school & homeschool friends the same way and they play the same games.

Virtual schools have advantages & disadvantages except you get some outside support. Some parents really need that extra support because they don't feel comfortable being on their own.

The biggest benefits to non-traditional learning are the ability to go at your own pace and to change the teaching method if it doesn't work. When we started math with my son we got a really cool math program. It had blocks and videos as well as worksheets. It looked really great to me. He absolutely hated it. We tried for a few weeks and gave up. We switched to another program which had very bright and colorful worksheets but no blocks or videos. He responded much better to it and was able to learn the material much easier. Learning at your own pace is good for him too. There is no being "left behind". Until he understands the subject we don't go to the next.

That all being said, homeschooling isn't for everyone. Some kids just don't respond and need more structure. Some parents don't want the responsibility or can't be home to be the teacher. Even in virtual schools the idea isn't just "sit them in front of a computer and you are done". There is other non-computer stuff in any program I've ever seen. I can't comment on the quality of the Chicago program, but I'd imagine it is the same way. The majority of time isn't computer related. I'm sure it will be less flexible and less "go at your own pace", but that isn't necessarily bad because some kids really need the structure. It depends on the child.

Also remember that things change. The parent or the child may decide to go back to traditional schooling. People and situations change. You can always switch. All 50 states have laws permitting homeschooling. Some are more "interesting" than others, but they all allow it.

There is also one other myth I'd like to dispell. Other than social skills the second most common question is about religion. Not everyone is a religous zelot who homeschools. I'm not even remotely religious. Lots of people do it because they feel it is the best opportunity for their children and not to shelter or block their kids from the outside world.

By the way, another thing which helped convince me that it isn't a bad idea was the fact that a lot of homeschoolers are ex-teachers. You would be amazed how many ex-teachers there are doing this. Every ex-teacher I talk to says that public schools waste time and they spent the vast majority of their time on a few kids in a class.

not the right solution. (2, Interesting)

evilviolist (988858) | more than 8 years ago | (#15717981)

Yes, Chicago Public Schools can be dangerous and frightening. This isn't the right way, however. What many of the comments seem to be presupposing is that the parents of the students will be able to help out the kids with their video lessons, as the system seems to want. The parents of these students are not there as they're working, and often it's a single family home, which in Chicago means that if you make minimum you're not paying your rent on only one job. The kids this is targeted for are going to be doing this largely on their own. Yes, fix the schools. Don't do it by funneling charter money into the hands of people like this, who care more about lowering overhead costs (video lessons require fewer teachers per student, obviously) than actually teaching kids. Am I the only one who has a problem with video screens becoming the font of all received knowledge?

VCS? Excellent! (1)

XenoPhage (242134) | more than 8 years ago | (#15717986)

During the past 2 years I've had the opportunity to deal directly with K12 and PAVCS. Both of my school age sons were enrolled in PAVCS.

Overall, the program is excellent. My oldest son was diagnosed ADHD and needs a more hands-on approach to learning, something the local school district refuses to provide, despite the existing legislation to force them. Unfortunately, moving is easier said than done, so we decided to look into PAVCS. From day one, they were incredibly helpful, explaining the entire process and helping us along. There is a teacher assigned to every student who makes weekly phone calls to check on the progress of the student, discuss and problems, etc. The child is provided, free of charge, all of the books and necessary materials to learn, including a computer.

One of the nicest things about the whole system is that the child does not need to be enrolled in the same grade classes for each subject. So, for instance, if your 5th grade child is deficient in math, but excelling in english, they could take a 4th grade math, but 6th grade english. This is incredibly helpful in keeping the child engaged and on-task.

They also schedule regular "meets" every 2-3 weeks that are optional. The purpose of these meets is to encourage social interaction between both the parents and the children. They also make sure that all required state and federal testing is completed, which usually turns into a 1/2 day of testing, and a 1/2 day of playing.

I like PAVCS and I wish they had it back when I was in school.. I see this as such an advantage over traditional schools. The freedom to learn when you want, in the order you want, is very powerful. I'd like to see this type of learning move even further. Personally, I tend to learn faster and better on my own rather than in a classroom setting.
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