Response to recent conversation

Commenters on the AJC Get Schooled blog debated the effectiveness of computer-based summer school classes, related to the Atlanta Public Schools’ online summer school pilot that was altered midstream to add more teacher-led instruction. Here is a sampling:

Patriot: Brick-and-mortar schools have become too expensive; teachers and administrative personnel to carry on everyday classroom needs have become too expensive. As a result, your ad valorem taxes are increasing at an alarming rate, with a full 70 percent going to fund schools. In Decatur, there are discussions about putting a $75 million bond referendum on our next election ballot to fund new schools. For a family whose abode is assessed at $200,000, that’s a $300 a year ad valorem tax increase for the next 30 years, and there will be more in coming years. There’s got to be a better way. Virtual schooling is the better way. Maybe things are not going very smoothly at present, but as time passes and with more experience, it will improve.

Mary: There is no one magic instructional delivery method that will be successful for all students to achieve, each child’s being placed on his own, correct instructional level and working at his or her own pace. All methods must be tried with different students.

Astro: Part of the problem is we are trying to introduce the latest technologies to a hidebound system, the zip code school cartel. It’s like trying to drop a supercharged Porsche engine into a Model T that will be maintained by surly, ill-trained mechanics who couldn’t work at just about any other job, and then running in the Indy 500.

SouthGa: This just supports the known fact that online education is not for everyone.

Another: One has to look at the fact each child who is taken out of a brick-and-mortar public school is saving the public schools lots of money.

Quin: Online courses are good for those who push themselves and are self-motivated, who prefer to work at their own pace and do not need as much guidance. They also have a lot of cons. They are not good when it comes to classroom discussion, asking questions in real time, getting immediate feedback, talking about a subject beyond the basic assignment, interacting with peers and getting different points of view. Thus, they tend to work best with subjects where answers and work are cut and dried without any broader context.

Cat: Summer school (back when we had it) was useful to babysit kids, feed kids, get the reimbursement money for feeding kids, reinforce skills for special ed kids and, perhaps, for giving a little attention to holding back some of the summer slippage in kids who were demonstrably behind. We had parents who would get mad because their child passed the CRCT in the spring and could not go to summer school (which relieved them of child care and feeding). Of course, the CRCT was re-given at the end and, miraculously, quite a few kids who didn’t get it in 180 days suddenly “met expectations” after less than three weeks of 4-hour-a-day instruction.

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