An e(z)-way around class-size mandates

We never thought we’d say this. But, hats off to
the Miami-Dade school district! Through a partnership with Florida Virtual
School, the district has enrolled over 7,000 of its students in online courses
taught by teachers over the Internet. The initiative is a smart,
creative counter
to the one-two punch of tough economic times and rigid
class-size restrictions
. (In Florida, elementary schools may only have
eighteen students per class and high schools, twenty-five. The e-learning labs
are exempt from these stifling and costly limitations.) While the Miami-Dade
initiative has left status quo defenders fuming, it’s allowed the district to
cut costs while still providing personalized, individual instruction. “Mass
customization” they call it. There is no question that these e-lessons must be
well-planned and well-implemented if this initiative is to be a plus for
students. But to the teachers’ unions and their minions we say: Something’s got
to give. Axe the Sunshine State’s ridiculous class-size mandate or start to get
comfortable with alternative solutions to stretching the school dollar. ‘Nuff
said.

In
Florida, Virtual Classrooms With No Teachers
,” by Laura Herrera, New York Times, January 17, 2011.

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