A high school sophomore told the Senate Education Standing Committee recently that she was able to testify to them (in the middle of a school day) in support of requiring parental notification about the Statewide Online Education Program (SOEP) because she was “not permitted to be on school grounds” at her public school at that particular time. Why? Because that time slot in her school schedule was filled with an online class, and rather than accommodate that child the school decided to kick her off campus and then make her come back when her next on-campus period began.
Shortly after that, a mother of children who had taken some classes through the SOEP – while continuing to take most classes at their local district school – also testified. Her children up in Logan and Cache school districts were “not allowed to be on campus at any time for any reason” during their online class time because it supposedly created “a safety issue” – the presence on campus of a child in an online class evidently threatened the safety of others.
All of this makes one wonder why school districts are ostracizing and discriminating against children who enroll in a few online classes? What do school districts accomplish by kicking children off campus and labeling them as safety threats for trying to improve their education through digital learning?
No person thinking rationally would conclude that enrollment in an online class is a sign that a child is a threat to the safety of other children at school. Though they might rationally conclude that child’s action is a threat to their state funding, since a portion of it follows the child to the digital learning provider. But one hopes that no school district official in Utah would be as selfish and demeaning as to view a child primarily in terms of their monetary value, or act on a child’s sincere desire to improve their life through digital learning by punishing that child for negatively impacting their bottom line.
So why are some Utah school districts discriminating against children seeking digital learning opportunities? We can’t know for certain without further evidence, but the logical conclusions based on the facts we do have are not encouraging, neither for the children seeking a better education through digital learning nor for the adults being employed by taxpayers to watch out for their well-being.