Student at computer
Susan Pendergrass

If a crisis doesn’t create a person’s character, but reveals it, then the same can be said of organizations. An overnight switch to all-virtual education has spurred those with resolve to find innovative ways to educate children. And do you know what the cool thing is? If an idea includes virtual learning, then it’s technically available to anyone with an internet connection.

The Florida Virtual School (FLVS) has been serving public, private, and homeschooled students in the United States and abroad for decades. It recently increased its capacity to 2.7 million students. FLVS is geared up to serve all Florida students and is available to discuss options with out of state districts and schools. Similarly, the Uncommon Schools charter school network in New York quickly created a high-quality online learning option for its students. But it then went a step further and made the online option completely publicly available. That means any student with internet access can fully access a program created by a network with student proficiency rates at or near 100 percent. Sal Khan, creator of the Khan Academy, made his platform open and free as well.

Let’s cross our fingers that parents and students in some of Missouri’s shuttered districts—like Parkway, Joplin and the very low-performing Riverview Gardens—magically find these resources and use them. They will be doing so without their district’s guidance or support. And let’s think about whether Missouri public school students should be able to enroll in top notch programs in other states even after the pandemic. We now know that education can happen outside of public school buildings. The providers of high-quality education should reap the rewards of that effort, not the closest public school building to a child’s address.

 

About the Author

Susan Pendergrass
Director of Research and Education Policy

Susan Pendergrass was Vice President of Research and Evaluation for the National Alliance for Public Charter Schools before joining the Show-Me Institute. Prior to coming to the National Alliance, Susan was a senior policy advisor at the U.S. Department of Education during the Bush administration and a senior research scientist at the National Center for Education Statistics during the Obama administration. She earned a Ph.D. in Public Policy from George Mason University.