This fall, the Minnesota Center of Online Learning (MCoOL) will expand its offerings to meet growing demand for high-tech, rigorous virtual education. MCoOL is a free Minnesota public school for grades 7-12 like any other, except for the fact that all classes are conducted online. In fact, it has been "recognized for its reputation as the school of choice for Advanced Placement courses, academic rigor, highly experienced teachers, and commitment to individualized attention to help each student succeed," reports the Wall Street Journal's MarketWatch.

There are many forms of alternative education, virtual classes being only one of them. Offering students other ways to learn is a great idea, but only when executed properly. A quick perusal of the MCoOL website reveals that this particular virtual institution seems well done. And since it offers both full time and part time classes, students can even stay at the traditional school they currently attend but take an AP course that is not offered there. For rural students and others whose schools do not have the resources to provide AP courses or interesting electives, online schools are a great alternative.

Don't try any monkey business, though, since MCoOL makes...

"1 in 4 California students--and 1 in 3 in Los Angeles--quit school," reports the Los Angeles Times.

This made me go hunting for other ways students in California can graduate from high school or receive a diploma equivalent. Interestingly, California has a number of options. Students can take their GED as early as age 17 (but only within 60 days of their 18th birthday), or they can take the California High School Proficiency Examination (CHSPE). The CHSPE can be taken as early as 16 or after completing sophomore year (regardless of age!) with parental permission to stop attending school. While the GED tests reading, writing, math, science, and social studies, the CHSPE only tests reading, writing, and math. The CHSPE also differs from the California High School Exit Exam (CAHSEE), which all students take for the first time in 10th grade and is required for graduation. Passing the CAHSEE is not equivalent to a diploma and tests in English language arts and math. Students have at least six opportunities to pass the CAHSEE--one in grade 10, two in grade 11, and three in grade 12. If a student continuously fails the CAHSEE, the...

Regarding my article in this week's Gadfly, I'd like to clarify that my use of the word "disingenuous" was not meant to describe the moral character of the study's authors. I actually said that the co-author's suggestion that the study provided evidence of curriculum narrowing was disingenuous. Further, I was using the word to mean "not straightforward" rather than dishonest. Regardless, I goofed. It was clearly a poor word choice and we'll print a short correction in next week's Fly.

Since I've been at Fordham, I've actually enjoyed a little back and forth with Jay on the topic of special education. I look forward to continuing discussion with him on the things that I question. His moral character is not one of them....

A lot of people, and not just Republicans, have been waiting for John McCain to unveil his thinking about education policy. While Barack Obama has made multiple speeches on the subject (most recently to both teacher union conferences) and has elaborate position papers on his campaign website, the Arizona senator said little, except for tantalizing bits about his own education. Last month, however, McCain advisor Lisa Graham Keegan predicted that he would soon address this issue. She was right. Today in Cincinnati, at the NAACP convention, McCain framed an ambitious and fairly comprehensive array of education reforms and asked civil rights leaders to join him in pressing for them. It included some familiar GOP refrains (school choice, especially) but also moved in such interesting new directions as virtual education, giving budgetary authority to school principals, alternative certification for teachers and several forms of differential pay, including more money for teachers who work in "troubled schools". It begins to look possible that education will turn into a bona fide election issue after all-and that differences between the presidential candidates in this sphere will actually prove interesting and salient.

Update: The text of his prepared speech is here.


Liam Julian

Perhaps the U.S. could foment more such strikes in other nations, and thereby give its students a better shot on comparative??international tests.??In the U.K.:

Unions said that more than half a million workers in England, Wales and Northern Ireland joined a 48-hour walkout in protest at a 2.45 per cent pay offer.

The effects of the dispute, which involved everyone from lollipop ladies and teaching assistants to driving examiners, were felt across the country.

What's a lollipop lady? Not sure I want to know, actually.

Liam Julian

The candidate's education plan is available. From a reform standpoint, there really is??much to like.

Liam Julian

Will variations on this wine trick never grow old? Never, it seems.

Yes, there is an education angle .

Liam Julian

Why don't we??round up??some Los Angeles high school students, put them in a room together, and ask them to pontificate??about why Asian students do better academically than Latino students? I'm sure??what they say will be revelatory; I'm sure??we're not wasting their time and filling their heads with nonsense.

Liam Julian

This fall, Denver Public Schools will introduce the Mile High Parent Campaign, which encourages moms and dads to devote 5,280 minutes a year to their children's educations. Cities situated at lower elevations are advised not to emulate the plan.

In other news from my hometown, ProComp, widely touted as the nation's model merit pay plan, is provoking some nasty skirmishes between district and union leaders.