Archive for Saturday, April 14, 2007

Virtual School has students worldwide

Lawrence district goes global

April 14, 2007


Traveling students able to stay educated with Lawrence Virtual School

A handful of Lawrence Public School students aren't actually educated in Lawrence. In fact, they're not even in the U.S. The Lawrence Virtual School lets these students keep pace with their peers while they're away. Enlarge video

A handful of Lawrence public school students aren't actually educated in Lawrence.

In fact, the students don't even live in the United States. They're in far-off places such as Sri Lanka, Germany, New Zealand and Chile.

The students are away from Lawrence for a variety of reasons, but while they're gone, they keep pace with their peers through Lawrence Virtual School.

"A lot of our families : their parents are teachers or professors, so they go out on sabbatical," said Jana Lloyd, assistant principal at the virtual school. "One family is a missionary family. They're all still residents of Kansas, but they're gone. We had one student last year that had a sick grandparent, so they went with the parents to the home country."

And the students stay out of the country for varying amounts of time - some for only a semester and some for an entire school year. Regardless of where they travel, Lawrence Virtual School students can receive much of the same education they would at home.

"I mean, you get these chances, you might as well take them," Lloyd said.

While the virtual school is a convenient way to stay current with Lawrence classes - the curriculum is accessed through a computer program on the Internet - students sometimes face challenges.

"When we send curriculum over," Lloyd said, "we're not always sure it's going to arrive to our families. Even the Western-world countries, they go through the boxes - the customs officials - and if they see something they want, they take it."

The virtual school first began catering to Lawrence students who were out of the country last year, so school officials still are encountering bumps in the road.

"There's the issue of electricity," Lloyd said. "Sometimes, there are shortages of it in other countries, and our electrical systems aren't the same, either. That means a computer that plugs into the wall here might not fit an outlet somewhere else."


PerAspera 10 years, 9 months ago

Our son is the New Zealand student who took one course, American History, through the Virtual School. We are taxpayers in Douglas County (and have now returned). The course was not offered in New Zealand, where we were temporarily, for his father's job.

We received two or three mailings. The rest was done by internet. There was no textbook. We still were billed for textbook fees.

I am grateful that the school was able to help us in our situation. We knew that he would return to the US for his senior year (he actually came back a semester sooner), and that he would need American History to graduate. They were flexible and thoughtful. We were always quite clear about our situation and were not attempting to "pull a fast one" or be a burden on others. We've paid property taxes here since 1989.

My son enjoyed the program and was able to be totally responsible for his progress. I'm old-style, so I was thrown off that there was no textbook, but he can read online from a computer screen better than I can.

He also took an online course from U of Missouri in physics, as that wasn't offered here. There is a market out there, if there was a way to fairly assess nonresidents, for online learning, and could be a way to supplement the local budget.

notsobright 10 years, 9 months ago

How much do you think the school receives for each regular attending student? The school receives the same amount for each virtual student and the school district is coming out ahead! The virtual school is FAR more cost affective- very smart for local school districts.

Kookamooka 10 years, 9 months ago

Taxpayers! Are you kidding. The taxpayers only pay for a small portion of the costs of education in Lawrence. There is no such thing as FREE education in Lawrence unless you qualify for free lunch. No. The parents pay. There are fees associated with just about everything kids do in school these days.

When the baby boomers were raising my generation, they had it so good! Free public education. But...the boomers feel they have paid their share to educate us and we are left with a huge bill to educate our children and their grandchildren. It's only going to get worse.

Other school districts are still free. Eudora comes to mind. In Lawrence, I'm still paying off a 300.00 bill for my Jr. High schooler to go to school and he isn't even involved in extra curricular things. We pay that much just for textbook usage (they don't give them to us), transportation, and materials (the arts). If he were an athlete the cost would be two or three times what I pay.

Taxpayers! That's actually a really funny joke to me.

TheNorthlander 10 years, 9 months ago

I didn't realize chickens were known to eat June Bugs.

I have June Bugs all over my backyard and by my front porch light every summer.

I need to get a few chickens runnin' around my place!!!

U2freak 10 years, 9 months ago

no electricity, unreliable customs...those are just cases that apply to certain countries, but not all. There are countries that run electricity and custom way better than the U.S. like Sweden, Norway, Germany, Japan etc. It's unfortunate to have the story reported in a stereotypical way.

Godot 10 years, 9 months ago

Classroom education is on the way out. Thank goodness.

Richard Heckler 10 years, 9 months ago

No matter what type of education system comes around tax dollars will be paying for it which is why Washington D.C. big government haters are screaming for privatization cuz they want YOUR tax dollars in THEIR pockets. Private public education will eat your wallets with a smile.

William "Mr. Morality" Bennett and some of his corporate D.C. pals are raking in the dough on the USD 497 virtual school program. This might be their way of pulling kids from the current public system thus making a case for their huge profit privatizing system.

Godot 10 years, 9 months ago

Okay, Merrill, I'll bite. How are Bennett and his pals raking in the dough on the USD 497 virtual school program?

Wilbur_Nether 10 years, 9 months ago

Godot wrote "Classroom education is on the way out."

No, it isn't. This myth has been around for a quarter century, and we're no closer today than we were then. Not even many private sector companies handle their learning needs this way.

KS 10 years, 9 months ago

I think some home schoolers use a similar concept. Boaters who cruise with their families can sign up for internet home schooling courses for their kids. Having satellite access to the internet is the way to go. Why stay home and have to deal with all of the social ills of the public school system, when the kids can see the world. Those courses are not supported by the taxpayer either.

Currahee 10 years, 9 months ago

Actually, if you're a foreigner you have to pay for the education yourself in the US- at least in most places. Any elementary student who goes to school here and has a student visa must pay up the full price unless if for some weird reason the district will pay it for them.

Archie 10 years, 9 months ago

What is the worst part is almost all the virtual school students are funded by the state as full time students when they are mostly part-time students.

flannelbowtie 10 years, 9 months ago

Let's not let the facts stand in the way of a good rant.

1) All students enrolled in the virtual school are from Kansas families, who pay state and local taxes, so just as in a regular classroom the family pays for their child's education. ONLY Kansas families can enroll in the virtual school, but as long as a family maintains Kansas residency (and pays Kansas taxes) they can TEMPORARILY live elsewhere (or overseas) and participate in the program.

2) What does Bill Bennett have to do with any of this? If you are under the assumption that he has anything to do with the virtual school or the company that provides the curriculum a little research would have gone a long way. There is no absolutely no connection between Bennett and the virtual school

3) Virtual school students are under the same guidelines as regular classroom students. They have a certain number of courses they must be enrolled in to be full time, if they are not full time the school does not get full time funding. From visiting with other virtual school families I can tell you that the vast majority of the students are full time (they take math, spelling, grammar, literature, writing, history, science, art and music)

DEH0007 10 years, 9 months ago

This is a very interesting topic and from the other comments, it is clear that there are many out there that just don't understand our education system, how it is funded and who pays those bills. My thoughts will be divided into two postings.

  1. The allegation that Mr. Bill Bennett and his "corporate D.C. pals" are "raking in the dough on the USD 497 virtual school program" is somewhat interesting. I am assuming that the proper interpretation of this comment is that a business is making money by selling a product. Imagine that in America today. A business actually turning a profit. Bill Bennett, the founder of K-12 (which is a for profit business) sales a product that the Lawrence Public School system, through the Virtual School, has purchased. I don't see the difference between other schools buying a product from McGraw Hill and LVS buying a product through K-12. Well, that is, unless people are complaining about the software product. Last I checked, Bill Gates still makes a few dollars off other public school systems as well.

  2. Tax Dollars paying for this system. I guess these thoughts don't surprise me. People have been complaining about Taxation for generations. Yes it is true, a portion of our Tax dollars does go to state education. Your tax dollars go toward your child's education and my tax dollars go toward mine. With LVS, the only difference is how/where my child is taught. As a trained educator, the biggest difference is the amount of education my child is getting. One on One attention and teaching, imagine how much she will learn.

DEH0007 10 years, 9 months ago

  1. The Value of LVS. As a business professional, I am called to travel extensively. In a traditional setting, my family has two options: 1.) Put my child in a traditional educational format or 2.) Utilize the virtual format. In the traditional setting, my child attends school and misses me while I travel. If I elect to have her travel with me, she misses school. In the virtual format, she gets the best of both worlds. It works for us. The virtual school is not a student just sitting at a computer receiving an education. It is parent taught. The parent becomes the teacher and must deliver the lesson. The computer is simply a mechanism of delivering our lesson materials, our lesson plans, a record of which lessons were completed each day and our results. I don't think it is any different than our public school teachers utilizing their pc's to keep such records.

  2. Virtual schools are "part time". Really. The fact is, my child receives a higher volume of education that the traditional school (public or private) can receive. First, she completes more work through our virtual program each day than she would at the traditional school. Yes, the traditional school student attends for 7-8 hours, but of that time, over 2 hours are either lunch, breaks or recess. That leaves 5-6. Of that, there are 10 minutes per hour used set up or closure for each subject. That leaves 4-5. Of that, there is between 30 minutes and 1 hour used to "discipline" or "coach" the students through behavioral issues. That leaves 3-4.5 hours. Talk about a part time education. My daughter receives, on average, 6 hours of pure education a day (almost double).

Summary: Each parent makes decisions on how they want to raise their children. Some parents are extremely involved and others are extremely passive with most of us somewhere in between. The nice thing about Kansas is that each of us has a choice regarding our child's education ranging from the traditional public school system, costly private education, home schooling and now the virtual school. Thank you LVS for providing and our Kansas legislature for allowing this outstanding option.

ECM 10 years, 9 months ago

"4. Virtual schools are "part time". Really. The fact is, my child receives a higher volume of education that the traditional school (public or private) can receive. "

Hmmm what do you base this "fact" on?? My children attend private school. I assure you the education my children are receiving is both high volume and high quality. The difference in comprehension, math skills, critical thinking, speaking and writing far surpasses those of a similar grade in USD 497.

DEH0007 10 years, 9 months ago

I base that on experience in both types of school. I am not implying that the quality of education at the private (or public in some areas) is not outstanding. After several years in the private sector, the amount of time that my daughter receives today is greater than what she received at a school with teacher to student ratios at 18:1. There is time built into every school day, both at the elementary and secondary levels, where the students are not formally being taught.

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