Online learning, meet your mentor: charter schooling



   Photo by Webhampster

Twenty years ago, the notion of charter schools was
the new kid on the education-reform block. Advocates saw it as a remedy, even a
cure-all, for the ails of public schools, one that would both provide
competition and allow underserved students to escape abysmal district schools.
Flash forward twenty years and we see that this boundless faith in growing the charter movement has sometimes
come at the expense of school
—which has left a stale taste in the mouths of many, friend and foe
alike. In 2011, the new kid on the education-reform block is digital learning.
And its proponents would be wise to study the pitfalls—as well as the
successes—of the charter movement. There are myriad examples to offer—and
authors Erin Dillon and Bill Tucker do well outlining them in the most recent
issue of Education Next—but some truly
stand out: Investing in good data and research, avoiding bad bargains, and
giving students choices while not relying on markets alone to monitor quality
are all take-home messages distilled from the charter movement. So, to virtual-education
proponents, Gadfly reminds: Those who don’t heed the past are bound to relive

Lessons for Online
,” by Erin Dillon and Bill Tucker, Education Next, Spring 2011, Volume 11, Number 2.