Colorado, Don't Get Any Ideas about Virtual Education from Florida's SB 1676

I’m kind of leery about even writing this here, afraid it might give some Colorado lawmakers a bad idea. But consider it a note of caution. Apparently, the Florida legislature is trying to put the clamps down on the state’s successful online public school program. So writes Bill Tucker at The Quick & The Ed about SB 1676 and its impact on the Florida Virtual School:

The bill would eliminate enrollment in any elective courses and funding for any courses beyond a standard six periods. Students would no longer have an option to take electives, including some AP courses, beyond those offered at their traditional schools (especially painful for small or rural schools), nor would they have the opportunity to take extra courses to catch up on graduation requirements or accelerate. The legislation was approved in committee and now goes to the full State Senate.

As tempting as it might be, it’s a bad idea for Florida officials to use tough economic times as an excuse to limit educational options. As this AP news story highlights, it has a negative effect on real students:

Kathryn Groves, a high school student from Keystone Heights, told the panel she took a virtual SAT preparation course that helped her earn scholarships by improving her score on the college entrance test.

“This class is not considered a core course, and students like me who would like to go to college would not be able to raise their SAT scores,” Groves said.

Florida Virtual School officials say the provision would cut enrollment about 24 percent by eliminating such electives as personal fitness, Web design, psychology and life management.

Sad, really. As virtual education represents in some ways the wave of the educational future, this is a step back.

Colorado online public schools have had their share of struggles with rules and regulations coming out of Denver, but not quite like this. Right now, our state is blessed with a healthy slate of cyberschool options to serve a rapidly growing student enrollment.

Individual schools and programs may succeed or fail, but hopefully such results have little to do with the state encroaching on the options available to students and parents.