Schools Step Out Onto the Slippery Slope of Educational Freedom

And so it begins…school districts are finding that they can keep their school year from being extended further into summer by allowing kids to learn online on snow days. And already they’ve discovered that kids like being free to learn online, and parents like seeing what the kids are learning. Isn’t this an interesting turn of events?

Personally, I think they’ve stepped out onto the slippery slope of (dare I say it?) educational freedom. Of course they think they don’t want to be there; note the comment of this parent:

“I think it’s a great tool to have,” said Cameron’s mother, Jane. “Obviously it’s not going to replace going to school. But for situations like this, I think it’s wonderful.”

I think it’s wonderful, too, because once people get a taste of freedom, they want more. I can picture kids being allowed to stay home on Veterans Day as long as they do an online history study assigned by their teacher. How about Valentine’s Day at home? They can exchange virtual valentines on Facebook while finishing their math homework online. I’m sure you can think of other ways kids can learn at home on school “holidays.”

Here’s where the slippery slope comes in: the more kids “do school” online, the more they’ll want to keep doing so. As for the school districts, they’ll soon find all sorts of reasons to let kids learn online because it will save money (most school districts are hurting financially these days) and teachers will be free to supervise from afar.

The increasing numbers of parents who either work from home, work part-time or are unemployed means there will be adult supervision during the day. Once regular days of “school at home” become more prevalent, and everyone gets comfortable with the concept, more families are going to take advantage of full-time virtual learning as offered by the public schools here in Wisconsin and other states. I can picture angry taxpayers eventually insisting that the schools consolidate their physical facilities to reflect the lower numbers of kids showing up, thus lowering costs. As for the kids who are too poor to have a computer or Internet access, the cost could be taken on by the school district for much less than the cost of keeping up all the buildings and staff.

And just think of the teens whose grades will go up because they can do school later in the day, after they’ve had enough sleep, instead of getting up at 6 am!

Yes, this turn of events has real possibilities.

7 thoughts on “Schools Step Out Onto the Slippery Slope of Educational Freedom

  1. Now, that’s a great way to look at it! Honestly, when I first heard about some schools requiring kids to do work online on snow days, it annoyed me – I thought, “Here they go, trying to control even more of the students’ lives…and making them do more work!” And that’s a possibility, I think. But looking at it from your perspective is very hopeful. Hmm… :^)

  2. Thanks, Tina. I can understand your initial reaction, My hope is that once people get a taste of freedom, they won’t want to go back to being incarcerated. It will be interesting to see how this plays out..

  3. Call me a cynic, but I don’t see it heading that way. One of the primary reasons for school is a way to keep the kids out of the house to support dual-income parents (or single, working parents). While you note that more people work from home, or are unemployed, parents that work from home are still not necessarily in a position to provide supervision just because of physical proximity. And parents out of work are, in many (most?) cases looking to get back to work and would consider child supervision as burdensome as they went onsite for interviews or otherwise focused on their job hunt.

    I certainly agree that “once people get a taste of freedom, they won’t want to go back to being incarcerated.” The people getting the taste of freedom are school-age minors and as a group don’t have the political power to resist incarceration. I think parents by-and-large strongly want the “babysitting service” that traditional schooling provides, and the exceptions will remain just that – exceptional.

  4. Thought-provoking comments, AC. I understand your viewpoint, and I used to share it. But lately I seem to be meeting more parents who are becoming disgusted with what’s going on in their local schools. Quite a few have even commented how glad I should be that I homeschooled my kids. I never used to hear that! So it’s made me hopeful :)

    Great comment: thanks for stopping by and weighing in!

  5. Pingback: Carnival of Homeschooling: Lemonade Edition

  6. This is a great trend. I think the freedom could prove more intoxicating than the subsidized daycare. The idea of making up snow days at homes is another nail in the gov-t school coffin, anyway.

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