View of states that allow school choice as of May 2015. The map illustrates how trends in education are shifting every year.
View of states that allow school choice as of May 2015. The map illustrates how trends in education are shifting every year.

Education is rapidly each day and the way that we deliver content is changing constantly as well. It seems that there are always new educational tools/features/content that is coming up that challenges the way that we look at conventional education. This is a topic that I struggle with quite a bit because I believe that it is healthy to challenge status quo and continuously try to improve our systems and functions. However, I do have a vested interested in conventional public school settings; mainly because I work for one and I also believe that, provided the appropriate circumstances, that it is still the best way to complete the task of educating the general public. However, there is one point that is very clear and that is that if we do not continue to adapt as a public education system we will soon be passed by.

For many years public schools have been the gatekeepers to education, by in large…it is no longer this way. Resources and information are now so readily available and the deliver of the content now comes in many different forms. Issues such as charter schools, virtual academies, and vouchers are issues that are starting to slowly keep up on public education and are now poses serious threats to the system that we have in place. So the question becomes, how do we keep up with the consumer demand?

Many people struggle with attending school in a traditional setting for one reason or another, and I get that. I’m a firm believer that the best educational experience for child depends on what setting they thrive in the best. While many people may not like the concepts of charter and virtual schools, the truth is that many parents and students today are weighing the options as to how they want to receive their education and many are exercising their freedom to choose. Regardless of what our own personal opinions are of these topics in education, we need to be responsible for adapting to these shifts in education…and there is plenty of evidence that we are heading in that direction.

For the state of Arkansas, public schools have had the choice of applying to become a conversion charter school with the state department of education. It is very similar to the process that regular charter schools go through to get approved, but it allows schools to receive exemptions while remaining a part of their school district. In addition, the state also added the distinction of school of innovations as well. While this is a very similar process, it is less involved on the paperwork and process for approval. However, its function is still basically the same; helping schools and districts relieve themselves of rules and regulations that will help them be more successful. While these are becoming more and more common in schools across the state, you will also notice that many districts are starting to add a virtual school component to their district. They are starting to see a need for these different avenues of education and beginning to adapt to their surroundings.

I suppose my point to this rambling post is that we have to continue to challenge conventional thinking to keep up with the current trends. There have been many detractors to the charter school or virtual school systems and how they work, but the truth is that they are here to stay. We run a serious risk of being passed by if we (public schools) do not begin to adapt to our surroundings instead of simply just hoping for different circumstances.

Mr. McClung

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