Faced with continuing budget shortfalls, rising public school enrollments, and ever-increasing costs from employee salaries and benefits, school districts in Utah have laid off employees, frozen salaries, shortened the school year, and raised taxes in order to make ends meet. Perhaps even more troubling, some education policy experts point out that public education’s budget challenges are not likely to be resolved for several years.
Now is the time that state policy makers and education leaders should invest in online learning to improve the bang for Utah’s education buck.
In Money Matters: Investing in Online Education, co-authors John Merrifield and Derek Monson assert that online learning can enhance the ability of parents to provide the best education possible to their children and the capacity for public schools to provide a high-quality education in Utah.
“Online education will not be a silver bullet or a quick fix, and it is not simply ‘education on the cheap.’ It has its own set of costs,” they said. “But because of its unique cost structure, virtual schooling has the potential to provide a better education to children in Utah for a similar, or even lower, price tag than traditional public schooling.”
The Center for Educational Progress at Sutherland Institute recommends that education policymakers should require every Utah student to complete an online course before graduating from high school. Further, that school districts should be required to inform parents of all the online learning options available to them, including district or state-run online schools and online public charter schools. And state education funds should be allocated on the basis of how many courses get completed with mastery by students in public schools, with more funds provided for more costly courses.
For more information regarding Sutherland Institute research and recommendations, please contact Dave Kimball at firstname.lastname@example.org, or by phone at 801-355-1272.
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