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Teachers Union Opposes Virtual K-8 Charter School 772

Posted by CowboyNeal
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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Teachers Union Opposes Virtual K-8 Charter School

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  • by A beautiful mind (821714) on Friday July 14, 2006 @06:42AM (#15717743)
    First post!

    (an essential skill...)
  • Why not? (Score:5, Funny)

    by Moraelin (679338) on Friday July 14, 2006 @06:43AM (#15717747) Journal
    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? (Score:3, Informative)

      by Praedon (707326)

      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 [ecotohio.org]. 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 comput

  • Not the best idea (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Mr. Underbridge (666784) on Friday July 14, 2006 @06:45AM (#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 (Score:2, Interesting)

      by JanneM (7445)
      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.
      • 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 d

        • by d3ac0n (715594)
          FTFA: The Chicago Teachers Union says children need the classroom.

          Seems to me that the Teacher's Union needs the classroom more than the kids. Online learning through accredited schools is proven and effective. Teacher's Unions, on the other hand, have only been proven to look out for the Teacher's best interests, often to the detriment of thier students. I choose to take the Teachers Union's opinion with a grain... make that a truckload of salt.
    • 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
    • by MikeRT (947531) on Friday July 14, 2006 @07:47AM (#15718003) Homepage
      When I read Lord of the Flies in high school, all of my problems with the public school system suddenly made sense. There is so little adult involvement in K-12 that it is almost like having no adult discipline and guidance. Kids actually **need** socialization around adults and they need it much more than they need "socialization" around other kids. Two kids by themselves teaching each other how to behave is like one blind man trying to lead another.

      I don't know if you've forgotten this due to age or a glorified childhood, but little kids are often nasty and cruel toward one another. They need the guiding hand of good adults, not children. There is a difference between letting kids play together and actual socialization.
      • While I have sadly never read Lord of the Flies I think the point you make is horribly misguided, especially when talking about the lower grades like kindergarten. Much of the goal in most kindergartens is to get the kids to understand how to operate in a classroom environment. You have to teach them not to yell, hit, bite, tattle, and how to use their words to solve their problems. You have to get them used to the world not revolving around them and get them to understand that their desire to do somethi
        • The only time, including Kindergarten, that we were ever controlled was when the teacher brought his or her iron fist down on the class and made us worked on regimented little projects. Parents are by far the "lesser evil" here as they don't need to simulate a minimum security prison to keep their kids under control. The fact that many don't control their kids is another issue in and of itself.
        • You have to teach them not to yell, hit, bite, tattle, and how to use their words to solve their problems. You have to get them used to the world not revolving around them and get them to understand that their desire to do something is often irrelevant and direct their attention to the task at hand.

          That's called "parenting", an apparently lost art in many parts of the First World. So lost, in fact, that some people actually think it's impossible to teach a child these things outside the context of the scho
  • 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.
    • by CdXiminez (807199) on Friday July 14, 2006 @06:56AM (#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.
      • by professionalfurryele (877225) on Friday July 14, 2006 @07:08AM (#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?
        • 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.
      • 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 difficult

    • by cbelle13013 (812401) on Friday July 14, 2006 @07:03AM (#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.
    • by syntaxglitch (889367) on Friday July 14, 2006 @07:04AM (#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.
    • by Shivetya (243324) on Friday July 14, 2006 @07:04AM (#15717824) Homepage Journal
      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.
    • 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 home

    • 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 cl

    • 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.

      I have a 14 year old. and if you tell me that the social environment in scool is beneficial then you are completely stupid.

      Let's see the lessons she is learning from her peers....

      1 - drugs are cool
      2 - sex is cool
      3 - harassing the odd kid is cool
      4 - being an asshole is cool
      5 - smoking is cool
      6 - stealing is cool
      7 - EMO is cool
      8 - Smart is un-cool
      9
  • Oh really? (Score:2, Informative)

    by 9x320 (987156)
    This website [hrw.com] 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 [japanese-online.com] sites [monash.edu.au] teach [yousei-ziploc.com] you [learn-japanese.info] basic [freejapaneselessons.com] Japanese [wikipedia.org] if [wikipedia.org] you [about.com] study [about.com] enough. [about.com]

    Parents just have to watch to make sure their children aren't looking at porn instead of studying and help them along.
    • 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 k
  • Like home school (Score:4, Informative)

    by MxTxL (307166) <mlutter.gmail@com> on Friday July 14, 2006 @06:52AM (#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.
  • How would this be... (Score:2, Interesting)

    by thebdj (768618)
    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
    • 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
  • Hmm... (Score:2, Interesting)

    by badevlad (929181)
    The care of social education is shifted on parental shoulders.
    But most of them do not think about it at all.
  • It can work. (Score:5, Informative)

    by rowama (907743) on Friday July 14, 2006 @07:00AM (#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 (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Adartse.Liminality (742343) on Friday July 14, 2006 @07:02AM (#15717815) Journal
    '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.
  • Yeah right. (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Friday July 14, 2006 @07:05AM (#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.
    • Home-schooled kids end up better educated than public schooled kids because by definition they have extremely low teacher-to-student ratios and are taught by extremely engaged teacher(s). Is it because home schooling in general is better than public schooling? NO. It is an artifact of who is involved--only the most engaged and active parents will make the decision and dedicate the time to teach their own children (who they care deeply about), and to navigate the substantial paperwork and bureaucracy in gett
  • Financial Interest (Score:5, Insightful)

    by CharlieG (34950) on Friday July 14, 2006 @07:15AM (#15717861) Homepage
    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...
  • by roman_mir (125474) on Friday July 14, 2006 @07:15AM (#15717862) Homepage Journal
    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.)
  • by Aladrin (926209) on Friday July 14, 2006 @07:18AM (#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.
    • The fact that a cow opposes steak houses does not change the fact that the excess of red meat that is served in such places has been repeatedly shown to be not so good for the human body. In other words, it may be selfserving(ha) to want to alter the food choices in the place, but that does not necessarily imply it is the wrong thing to do. After all, enlightened self interest is the basis of the American way.

      As far the other points, the teaching styes you mentioned are already in wide use at schools.

  • '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.
  • by fermion (181285) * on Friday July 14, 2006 @07:21AM (#15717883) Homepage Journal
    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.

  • Homeschooling (Score:5, Informative)

    by FJ (18034) on Friday July 14, 2006 @07:41AM (#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.
  • Home Education (Score:3, Interesting)

    by drac0n1z (824583) on Friday July 14, 2006 @08:07AM (#15718110)
    I was home schooled for 5 years in a foreign country, where I didn't interact with the locals my age. Very much 3rd world, to the extent where kids my age and even older people never before saw white people. When I got back to my own country @ the age of 15 I was not socially adapted to handle a school environment. Socially I was a mess till around the time I turned 21. Children should socialise with their peers otherwise they will have much larger problems when the peer group has moved into adulthood and they havent.
  • by Luscious868 (679143) on Friday July 14, 2006 @08:29AM (#15718249)
    Look the bottom line is that the number one priority of a union is to preserve jobs and benefits for it's members. That means opposing progress if progress might mean eliminating jobs or reducing their sweetheart deals. Look at any industry, progress always means increased productivity which usually means eliminating jobs. Look at all of the industries with unionized labor in this country. Notice a pattern? They are all failing. The days of making $35 dollars an hour with full benefits and with no chance of ever getting fired no matter what are over. It's a shame that union members fail to recognize this. I live in Michigan and I see the effects first hand with the UAM. The harder these people try to hang on to the past, the faster their ships sink. Their refusal to recognize and deal with these new circumstances will be their undoing. You've got to produce and compete in a today's global economy and I just don't think they get it. They'll scream and yell and complain and strike until the cows come home but all they are doing in the end is further hurting the companies they depend on for their livelihoods. A few buddies of mine used to work for GM and I used to be amazed at the stories they'd tell. Guys showing up an hour late, sitting around all day essentially doing nothing and leaving an hour early for golf, all the while laughing about how they couldn't be fired. That's not to say all unionized workers abused the system, but enough of them did and they are paying the piper now.

    Look the bottom line is that the education system in this country will never be fixed until we break up the teachers unions. Liberals will scream and yell but it has to happen. One of the most important functions a government can provide is education. In this globalized economy education is more important than ever and it's impossible to have a good education system if you can't hold teachers accountable for their performance. I had teachers in high school who showed movies just about every day and taught us nothing because they knew they couldn't be fired. They were tenured and that was that. I had friends who in 12th grade were taking the equivalent of an 8th grade math class. That's simply unacceptable and we're paying the price. The USA will continue to decline until we fix our education system. Unfortunately both politicians and corporations have an interest in maintaining the status quo. If the average citizen was educated enough to know know badly they were getting fucked by both Uncle Sam and the upper 1% then most of the politicians would be out of a job.
  • by King_TJ (85913) on Friday July 14, 2006 @09:14AM (#15718537) Journal
    I've started paying much more attention to these topics in recent years, since I have a kid of my own who is about to start preschool.

    What I've observed here in St. Louis, Missouri, anyway, is that our public schools run the gamut from excellent to horrible, depending on where you happen to live. Our schools in the city itself are largely in the "poor to horrible" category. In the "inner hub" counties closest to the city, they're only 1 step better in most cases. As you move further west of the city, into the more affluent counties, the public schools generally improve.

    Unfortunately, the kids at the highest risk of getting a substandard education are often the same ones with parents who simply can't afford to stay home and homeschool their kids. So what you typically see are kids of well-to-do upper middle-class parents being homeschooled because their parents just believe they "know better" how to teach their kid(s) than the school districts do, or because they're a little overprotective.

    My thinking is, by homeschooling, you're *already* denying your kid(s) a lot of opportunity to build social skills. If they're using a virtual school on the computer while they're at home, vs. only interacting with the same parent(s) they always interact with anyway, how much difference does that really make? What's important is that homeschoolers get their kids involved in extracurricular activities so they're getting to interact with their peers in other settings.
  • inside perspective (Score:5, Insightful)

    by mattavian (988882) on Friday July 14, 2006 @09:38AM (#15718686)
    Being a teacher I think I have a unique perspective on this. I'm sure that the online classes will work. Why? The students that are involved with the project are going to be the same ones that have parents that care and are active in their education. Time and time again I've found that to be the biggest factor in education. They would do better then the standard apathetic student sitting at home with a book and a candle. I feel bad for the teachers however, this may be the thing that takes the few students wanting to learn out of a classroom. Often these kids are the ones that make teaching worth it for many of us.
  • by scheming daemons (101928) on Friday July 14, 2006 @09:47AM (#15718747)
    ...This country needs more introverted geeks with no social skills and no ability to deal with people.

    School is more than learning the three R's. It's learning how to deal with other individuals. Life involves cultivating relationships and learning what works and what doesn't when dealing with another human being. It's not just knowing the right information to get straight A's.

    The social aspect of actually GOING to school is too-often downplayed. Your kid needs to learn how to deal with other people... both good people and bad people. Those people-skills are something you can't get in a home school setting, no matter how you try. And those skills are a better indicator of success later in life than any report card with straight A's.

  • by comp.sci (557773) on Friday July 14, 2006 @10:26AM (#15719110)
    As a response to the numerous posts that basically all say that you can socialize your kids outside of school as well:
    I agree that you can teach them some social skills, but how will they be able to form lasting friendships and relationships? I'm sure some will be able to, but it took me 8 years in school with my friends to get really close to them. Friendships don't just happen on a trip to the zoo for some. If I'd try to homeschool a child, I'd be afraid it'd turn into either a socially reclusive or an overly social person. (you know, the type that is friends to everybody and yet nobody)

    Friends are one of the most important aspects of life and you should give your child every opportunity to find real friends you can!
  • The Unions (Score:3, Informative)

    by oyenstikker (536040) <slashdot&sbyrne,org> on Friday July 14, 2006 @10:47AM (#15719294) Homepage Journal
    My wife is a teacher, and a member of the union. (They force you to pay the dues, so you may as well join.) I read all the magazines and newsletters that the union and its parent organizations send. From what I hear, from the unions themselves, the unions care about two things:

    1) More power for the union.
    2) More money for the union.

    They are against new testing. They are against non-testing based instruction. They are against charter schools. They are against charter schools even if it means no schools. (Charters were willing to set up in New Orleans long before the public schools would have been able to operate. The unions fought against them, in favor of no schools at all.) The unions are against any changes to the tenure system. The unions are against anything proposed by or endorsed by the conservatives. The unions are against Wal-Mart. The unions are against the high cost of living. The unions are against forcing the teachers to get technology traning. The unions are against the schools spending more of their budgets on technology (and less on teachers). They are against home schooling. They are against school funding cuts. They are against property tax increases.

    And they support teachers retiring at 55 with 25 years of service. They expect to work 25 years, only about 1/3 of their lives, and have the rest of us taxpayers who work from 16 to 65+, including summers, to support them. (Earlier retirement means hiring more teachers, which means more union members and more dues paid.)
  • Let's find out. (Score:3, Insightful)

    by AnotherBlackHat (265897) on Friday July 14, 2006 @12:08PM (#15720057) Homepage
    'You can't sit a child in front of a computer and expect him to learn things he needs to succeed in society,'


    Maybe, but the real question isn't "Does it work?", but rather, "Does it work better?".

    There's a straight forward way to test it.
    Allow some number of children to be educated this way, and compare them with standard school kids.
    (Of course, there's probably many less destructive ways to test it too.)
    I'd say it's strange that they haven't proposed this, but then,
    I don't hear much talk about comparing results for any other schooling method either.
    The U.S. seems to stress conformity above all else.

    -- Should you believe authority without question?
  • http://familyeducation.com/article/0,1120,58-17910 ,00.html [familyeducation.com]

    http://learninfreedom.org/socialization.html [learninfreedom.org]

    http://www.pregnancy.org/article.php?sid=189 [pregnancy.org]

    I look for some studies that showed public shooling was better, but there aren't any.

If it is a Miracle, any sort of evidence will answer, but if it is a Fact, proof is necessary. -- Samuel Clemens

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