Celebrating School Choice Week: Digital Learning

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On Day 3 of National School Choice Week, we explore opportunities to personalize educational options through Digital Learning.

Pioneer believes that effective and accountable digital learning opportunities can benefit students across Massachusetts. Virtual schools challenge our traditional “one-size-fits-all” education model. They can often keep students engaged who may have physical disabilities or medical conditions, face bullying in traditional school settings, live in remote locations, or have caretaker responsibilities at home.

Pioneer supported legislation passed in 2010 and 2013, which authorized digital learning in Massachusetts and allowed for up to 10 virtual schools to be established statewide by 2020. Unfortunately, Massachusetts has failed to keep pace with innovation elsewhere in the U.S. More than 2.7 million students across the nation participate in online learning programs, over 300,000 of them in full-time online public schools. By contrast, Massachusetts, considered a leader in public education and in information technology, has just two virtual schools, enrolling fewer than 2,000 total students. We must do more to build support for this learning option.

The ability of Massachusetts’ students to benefit from broader digital learning options has been hindered by retrograde regulations promulgated by the state’s own education department bureaucracy.

Pioneer has held numerous public forums on digital learning, bringing some of the leading minds, including Sal Khan, Julie Young, and Michael Horn (see video clips below), to share best practices and the benefits of online education for millions of students across the country.

We’ll be sharing school choice success stories all week – join in the conversation on Twitter, using #SchoolChoice.

National School Choice Week is an annual celebration of the variety of high-quality academic options available to families across the U.S. Each day this week at Pioneer Institute, we’ll be highlighting charter public schools, the METCO program, digital learning, vocational-technical schools, and independent and parochial schools.


Pioneer’s Jamie Gass Received the Florida Virtual School Foundation’s 2013 “Opening Doors to the World” Award

FLVPioneer Institute’s education policy director, Jamie Gass, was the recipient of the 2013 Opening Doors to the World “Virtie” Awards, an annual recognition by the Foundation for Florida Virtual School. Jamie was honored for his work to transform America’s education system through philanthropic impact, ongoing research and education policy.

The Foundation for Florida Virtual School hosted its Second Annual Opening Doors to the World Awards Celebration on September 18, 2013. The event honors individuals who have been instrumental in opening doors to educate students in Florida, the United States and around the world. Other recipients of the awards were former Florida Governor Jeb Bush; Clayton Christensen; Institute co-founder Michael Horn; Mobile Beacon; Ucompass; Comcast; DreamBox Learning; FLVS student Zach Marks; Barbara Dreyer, CEO and co-founder of Connections Education; and Bob Muni, the former chairman of the Board of Trustees for FLVS.

Opinion: Virtual schools are in session

By William Donovan

From working to shopping and paying our bills, the Internet seems to have transformed virtually every aspect of modern life. Now it’s changing the way we educate our children.

Thirty states plus the District of Columbia have full-time online schools. And while those schools only educate about 200,000 students nationwide, that number is growing by about 25 percent each year. Florida opened one of the first online schools in 1997 and the Florida Virtual School is now the nation’s largest. California alone has 16 virtual schools.

Read more in the Worcester Telegram & Gazette.


 Virtual Schools, Actual Learning: Online Education Becomes a Valid Option
 Online Learning 101: Starting a Virtual School And Its Challenges

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