Review by Michael K. Barbour.
Chubb, John E. Overcoming the Governance Challenge in K-12 Online Learning. Washington, DC: Thomas B. Fordham Institute, 2012.
This fifth and final paper in the Fordham Institute’s series examining digital learning policy is Overcoming the Governance Challenge in K-12 Online Learning. The purpose of this report is to outline the steps required to move the governance of K-12 online learning from the local district level to the less restrictive state level and to create a free market for corporate innovation in K-12 online learning. Unfortunately, the report is based on an unsupported premise that K-12 online learning will lead to increased student achievement. The body of research to date suggests that there is no learning advantage for virtual schools. Further, no evidence is presented that supports the wisdom or efficacy of centralizing governance at the state level or that moving to a market model is a superior, productive or economical practice. The recommendation that virtual schools should be funded at the same per-pupil amount as traditional public schools raises the question of profiteering, given Fordham’s claim that virtual schools operate more economically (a claim for which there is limited evidence). This report appears to be ideologically motivated and designed to open up the $600 billion market of K-12 education to for-profit corporations.