An "Educational Clearing House" for Colorado's Students and Teachers?

Learn an education policy reform idea from Ohio? Not possible, you say? Come on, it’s not as unlikely as all that. Well, my friends in the Education Policy Center ran across a new practice in the Buckeye State that could help Colorado revolutionize the way we deliver education.

In the somewhat obscure Middletown Journal, Ohio state representative Bill Coley writes about the new program created by his sponsored legislation:

As the proud author of the first-in-the-nation “Educational Clearing House” legislation, I was invited to explain how Ohio is breaking the bonds of bricks and mortar. The Clearing House, which is just getting under way here in Ohio, will allow a student in Cadiz to take a class in Mandarin Chinese from a teacher at Butler Tech or an advanced placement government class from a teacher at Lakota East. Upon successful completion of the class, the credits for the class move from the teacher’s school to the student’s school and a fee for the class moves from the student’s school to the teacher’s school.

The beauty of the system is its simplicity and local control. The local school districts decide which of their classes they want to list in the Clearing House catalog. The local school districts also decide which courses they want to allow their students to take from the catalog.

School districts experiencing limited budgets get to offer courses without the need of hiring additional staff. The districts also receive income when others are educated by the district’s teachers. Students get access to the best teachers across the state, teaching classes that may not be offered within the walls of the student’s school.

Technology breaks down barriers, and in this case for the good of students and top-notch teachers. This sure looks like a great and efficient opportunity to unleash the power of great teaching to reach students and parents across borders.

You might be wondering why it took 40 years from the time we put a man on the moon to make such an important advance in the delivery of instruction. You may also not be aware of the incredible political forces behind the inertia of our existing K-12 model. We can update and improve the system — maybe someday even overhaul it — but the process is inevitably slow, expensive, and painful.

Nonetheless, don’t you think it’s time for Colorado policy makers to look closely at the idea of creating something like the “Educational Clearing House”?