Parents aren’t experts in research methodology so we won’t get bogged down in a debate on the merits of a virtual twin research method or how accurate two-year-old data might be. Parents are experts in their children, and in how well their eSchool is doing for them and why they chose that type of school. And that’s one place where the report about online learning released late last month is glaringly lacking.
Researchers didn’t talk to a single parent of an online student. Parents weren’t part of the study or of its conclusions, yet we’re the one making the choice for our kids to use this public school option. And we’re the only ones in the best position to be making that decision for our children – not government bureaucrats or university researchers. It’s parents who know their child’s educational needs best.
Researchers didn’t take into consideration why parents made the choice to enroll their child in an online school. And, as we well know, the reasons why parents make this choice are as diverse as the students that these public schools serve.
It wasn’t even taken into account how long a student was enrolled in an eSchool, or the progress made by that student while they were enrolled, even if it was a short period, nor any other factors that make a great deal of difference in the lives of actual eSchool students.
Their conclusions are based almost exclusively on high stakes testing – testing which it’s worth noting, is constantly changing and is to this day being questioned as an accurate measure of student performance by many school districts, teachers, lawmakers and parents.
But proponents of this report would take the flawed data and use it as a reason to take away our choice as parents in our own kids’ education! They would take the eSchools we’ve chosen for our children because they are the best learning environments for them, the schools where they excel, and turn them back into the kind of school many of us are escaping from in the first place. The kind of school where many students struggle, fall behind, and ultimately don’t learn at all.
This is not about one single child or family. This is about all children whose parents have watched them struggle until they found a place in the unique learning environment of an eSchool where they could finally stand on their own and succeed. This option can’t be taken away from parents and students based on a report that didn’t talk to a single parent or student and take their individual needs into account.
So perhaps parents aren’t research experts – but we can see holes in the credibility of this report that make it very hard to trust its conclusions. We urge our lawmakers to look past the flawed data and talk to eSchool parents and students to get the real measure of our online schools.