We had a strong turn-out last night for the first public Idaho Forum on Virtual Education. Many thanks to Diane Demerest, Executive Director for the Idaho Charter School Network, for her commitment to organizing such a powerful venue!
State Superintendent of Instruction, Tom Luna, opened the event with his support for school choice, especially via virtual education. Recently, Idaho was ranked third in the country for policies and practice in K-20 Online Education by the Center for Digital Education. Much of that ranking was due to this man’s efforts and vision.
John Watson of Evergreen Associates was the keynote speaker, giving interesting highlights from his annual Keeping Pace report, which tracks growth in K-12 online programs (both state sponsored supplemental programs, and full-time K-12 online programs typically funded through private corporations). Over 42 states in the country currently offer one or both of these types of online learning for their kids.
Next up came a panel of state leaders (I was honored to be included on the panel) discussing where we are going with K12 virtual education. Tom Luna and John Watson rejoined us, along with Senator Russ Fulcher, Charter School Commissioner Alan Reed, and myself.
Here’s a recording of the forum. Perhaps the most powerful portion of the evening came when a student panel, consisting of kids and a teacher from several virtual schools, shared their views about why online learning options were important to them. After listening to them present, I would dare anyone to disagree that online learning shouldn’t be an option made available for ALL kids.