Home About GSCS What's New Issues School Funding Coming Up
Quick Links
Meeting Schedule
NJ Legislature
Governor's Office
NJ Department of Education
State Board of Education
GSCS Testimonies
GSCS Data & Charts
Contact Us

Email: gscschools@gmail.com
Phone: 609-394-2828 (office)
             732-618-5755 (cell)

Mailing Address:
Garden State Coalition of Schools
Elisabeth Ginsburg, Executive Director
160 West State Street
Trenton, New Jersey 08608

Search
Twitter

9-13-12 Jt. Comm. on Public Schools hears about online and blended learning...Christie to check out support for physical education
GSCS Notes: At the hearing, Co-chair Assemblywoman Connie Wagner stated a hearing schedule on online schools that includes 4 hearings, every 2 months,implying that virtual schools are not being'fast tracked' from the legislature's perspective, rather that an in-depth learning and review process is the next step for consideration.

NJ Spotlight - For NJ Legislators, A Crash Course on e-Learning…With online schools approved for New Jersey, a special session is held for lawmakers to learn more about the virtual learning models

Politickernj - Legislators weigh pros, cons of online learning

Politickernj - Christie says he'll check into teacher's phys-ed funding question

NJ Spotlight - For NJ Legislators, A Crash Course on e-Learning…With online schools approved for New Jersey, a special session is held for lawmakers to learn more about the virtual learning models

Politickernj - Legislators weigh pros, cons of online learning

Politickernj - Christie says he'll check into teacher's phys-ed funding question

 

NJ Spotlight - For NJ Legislators, A Crash Course on e-Learning…With online schools approved for New Jersey, a special session is held for lawmakers to learn more about the virtual learning models

By John Mooney, September 13, 2012 in Education|Post a Comment

Legislators got a crash course on online education yesterday, from virtual schools to “blended” ones, and how far other states and countries have gone with the technology.

Related Links

But this could take a while, and few on the Joint Committee for the Public Schools appeared to have their minds changed much -- for or against -- after at least this first class.

The committee held the special session to discuss the various models, as the Christie administration has moved ahead in approving charter schools employing the technology in levels not seen before in the state.

While countless traditional schools offer some online classes, two charter schools have been approved that would be entirely online, with students taking class from home or other remote locations. They have been postponed a year.

Two other “blended” schools, which opened this fall in Newark, have students come to a school location every day and work with both teachers face-to-face and online.

What the Legislature seeks to do at this point is unclear, although it is likely new legislation around charter schools in general will be introduced and would include provisions for online education. A similar session of the Joint Committee was held last year.

But the arrival of the new schools has sparked considerable debate among education and community advocates, with the state’s dominant teachers union legally challenging the administration on the schools already approved.

That is enough to have caught the legislators’ attention once again and prompt the joint committee’s plans for four hearings to explore the subject further.

The next hearing is scheduled on Nov. 28, again in Trenton, to hear from the state’s major education organizations. Two more will be held next year, including a hearing in one of the opened charter schools.

Yesterday, legislators invited three national advocates who brought national and international perspective, pointing out that New Jersey is in the clear minority in not providing programs dedicated to the online technologies.

Thirty states have some form of virtual or blended programs. Florida is far and away the leader, with more than 150,000 students in that state alone. Next highest was Alabama with 28,000, and then Michigan with 16,000.

Presenters said online education has also taken off in countries such as China, South Korea, Turkey, and Canada.

But much of the testimony wasn’t about the numbers as much as what the advocates contended were the benefits for at least some students, saying it provides access and opportunity for those who struggle to find it in traditional schools.

They said it allows for instant results on whether students are learning, and instant feedback for teachers as well. They repeatedly stressed this was not an approach for all students, but one that should nonetheless be available.

“One size does not fit for all students, and certainly the same can be said for the school experience and teachers as well,” said Michael Horn, director of education of Innosight Institute, a San Francisco-based think tank that promotes online learning.

But even on a limited scale, the concept was greeted with skepticism by several of the legislators, some saying it can be a supplement to existing programs but shouldn’t replace them wholesale.

They cited issues of socialization, funding, teacher training and even cheating as all worrisome issues.

After the advocates listed studies that found performance in some of the schools outpacing that of traditional schools, state Assemblywoman Connie Wagner (D-Bergen) brought out another study that found schools by one prominent provider, K12 Inc., fared worse.

“Should New Jersey really be adopting a policy of no growth [for online schools] until we can see some real evidence of success?” asked Wagner, who co-chairs the committee and led much of the discussion.

“I don’t believe that Florida is a state that has achieved great education success,” she said at another point. “You’ll have to convince me.”

The advocates didn’t dispute entirely that further research is required on specifically the progress students make in the programs. Susan Patrick, president of International Association for K-12 Online Learning (INACOL), said a study by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation is coming out next month that will look at some of the methodology for measuring outcomes.

“”We really need to focus on outcomes,” she said.

But having witnessed the battles in other states, they stressed that witnessing the programs in action and visiting the schools could appease concerns about online schooling.

“I think a lot of it is not knowing what it looks like,” Patrick said.

Not all need convincing. Assemblyman David Wolfe (R-Ocean) said there would always be critics and the task was on educating the public.

“It is pitiful that we don’t take advantage of the opportunities we have,” he said.

Still, he was more in the minority on this panel. Assemblyman Ruben Ramos (D-Hudson) said he sees the value in special cases and especially those struggling to succeed in other settings.

“But students are not widgets,” he said. “There are a lot of emotions, a lot of distractions. I do see the positives, but I see a lot of concerns.”

 

Politickernj - Legislators weigh pros, cons of online learning

By Minhaj Hassan | September 12th, 2012 - 5:16pm

Share on facebookShare on twitterShare on favoritesShare on print|More Sharing ServicesMore

TRENTON - While supporters of online education made the case today that the concept deserves more support, some of the lawmakers at the Joint Public Schools Committee hearing demurred at the idea of it being a replacement for brick-and-motor schools for some students.

Sen. Linda Greenstein, (D-14), Plainsboro, said she can see online schooling being helpful “for adult learning.” However, she said that when it comes to special education kids and younger students, “the more chance they’re going to need supervision.”

However, Assemblyman David Wolfe, (R-10), Brick, said it is “pitiful” more alternative education opportunities are not being examined.

Sen. Diane Allen, (R-7), Edgewater Park, who said she represents a “relatively poor district,” said something must be done for kids who are not self starters and whose parents are not engaged.

But Assemblyman Ralph Caputo, (D-28), Belleville, asked the online education supporters why there is so much resistance to the concept.

Susan Patrick, president of the International Association of K-12 Online Learning, said it had to with people not understanding the concept fully and pushback from the educator groups.

But Caputo forewarned the online education supporters that the idea needs local support before they expect the Legislature to mandate it.

“We will not be supportive of that unless districts say there’s a tremendous need,” he said. “These are the bureaucratic political things you have to surmount.”

Assemblyman Ruben Ramos, (D-33), Hoboken, a school teacher himself, also demurred at the online learning concept.

“Students aren’t widgets,” he said. “We still need human contact. I don’t want to see us go away from that.”

Politickernj - Christie says he'll check into teacher's phys-ed funding question

By Matthew Arco | September 12th, 2012 - 5:26pm

Share on facebookShare on twitterShare on favoritesShare on print|More Sharing ServicesMore

HOWELL – Gov. Chris Christie promised a New Jersey teacher today he will check with the state’s education commissioner to see whether the state has trimmed funding for physical education.

The governor was prodded by a health education teacher of nearly two decades regarding why his administration has turned its back on physical and health education.

Christie said at his town hall that he wasn’t aware any such policy is in place and promised to look into it, but affirmed his decision to call for increased salaries for math and science teachers in the state.

“That does not mean that any other discipline is less valuable,” said Christie, explaining that’s his position because the state has a shortage of math and science teachers.

The governor also reaffirmed his battles against teachers’ unions have not been fought against teachers themselves, explaining his “goal in all of this is to elevate” good teachers and pay them more, while ridding the system of ineffective teachers.

“My problem is not the teachers,” he said.

 


Garden State Coalition of Schools
160 W. State Street, Trenton New Jersey 08608
609-394-2828