What a coincidence, yesterday the Green party put out a press release on Voxy about online schools and only seven minutes later the PPTA did one as well.
Clearly, neither the Green party nor the PPTA supports online schools. Here is a brief summary of the points each group made in their press release.
The Green Party Press release summarised:
1.The Government plans to open up the Correspondence School Te Kura to corporate entities or charter schools which could have terrible consequences for the quality of education
2. Communities of Online Learning (COOL) will threaten the existence of the Correspondence School Te Kura.
3.”Online charter schools that use public money for private profit don’t provide the education that students need,” Green Party education spokesperson Catherine Delahunty said.”Student success relies upon high quality teachers and engagement, but this Bill opens the way for an unstructured online learning that undermines this.
I must mention at this point that students who interact with the correspondence school interact in writing with high-quality teachers but there is no face-to-face engagement. There is no reason why online learning would not involve high-quality teachers or lack structure. What it could offer is a more efficient method of long distance learning where students could chat online with their teacher in real time.
If the proposal was just to replace the correspondence school I would not have any concerns but the proposal appears to go further than that. There is a clear intention to open it up for even primary school aged children.
Education Minister Hekia Parata has announced school-aged children will be able to do all their learning online.
The question is whether this will be just for students who cannot access or cope with the mainstream system or whether it is going to be an option for everyone.If it is going to be an option for everyone then is the intention to replace the state school system as critics fear or to enhance it?
Online learning could mean that a high school student who wants to do a subject that their school does not offer could do it instead online at scheduled times on their school computer.It could mean that the primary school child who is behind in reading could get access to a high-quality teacher online every day to help him or her.
4.”Putting more money and resources in charter school coffers at the expense of the public education system undermines every child’s education.
If it wasn’t already clear enough to you by now, Correspondence School Te Kura is good because it is the public education system whereas anything related to charter schools is bad according to the Greens. Note that they are anti ” private profit” despite the fact that charter schools are not-for-profit entities.
5.”Online learning shouldn’t be pushed on students just because it may be the cheapest option for a company.
The PPTA Press release summarised:
1.Communities of online learning (Cools) are nothing but blatant privatisation.
2. Opens up a market for any provider to get public funding in competition with public schools.”
3.The only benefit will be for business.”
4. Sets up the possibility of student vouchers being used to fund private online schools.
5. “There are two wildly incorrect assumptions that underpin this idea,” says Angela Roberts. “One is that online learning can substitute for face-to-face, and the other is that a more competitive market in education is going to lead to better results. Both of these fly in the face of all the evidence.”
Online learning will have its place in education. It will replace correspondence school in the same way that email has replaced the hand written letter. I agree with Angela that online learning is not as good as face-to-face learning for students. Replacing the correspondence school with online learning makes sense but if the grand plan is to phase out physical learning altogether that is unacceptable. I suspect that there is some fear mongering going on as it seems more likely that online learning will be used to enhance, not replace, face to face learning in physical schools. If Education Minister Hekia Parata’s genuine intention with this policy is to replace teacher’s with online learning then she is wrong. I hope her intentions are simply being misrepresented by her critics.I suspect that they are.