CA online education has serious roadblocks

CA online education has serious roadblocks

Jan. 15, 2013

By Katy Grimes

Gov. Jerry Brown announced last week that he will be pushing online education, and made provisions for this in his 2013-14 budget proposal.

The governor has already started lobbying the California State University and  University of California regents to expand online courses for college students.

Brown said in his budget proposal press conference on Thursday that he wants to be able to reach more students, and save costs.

But there’s a giant problem with California’s online education restrictions.

State rules bar teachers with out-of-state licenses from teaching online courses to California students, requiring that all teachers can only have California teaching credentials.

According to Lance Izumi, J.D., Senior Fellow with the Pacific research Institute, and author of Short Circuited: The Challenges Facing the Online Learning Revolution in California, the National Education Association, the parent organization of the California Teachers Association, says there should be “an absolute prohibition against the granting of charters for the purpose of home-schooling, including online charter schools that seek home-schooling over the Internet.”

The California Federation of Teachers, in model contract language, says: “No employee shall be displaced because of distance learning or other educational technology.”

In other words, it’s all about the teachers.

Izumi explained that online education also must meet the CFT and CTA student-teacher ratios for independent study.

California limits students who attend an online, virtual charter school, to take the courses within the county in which they reside. Why take online courses at all if you can drive, bike or walk to the school?

California has the most burdensome government regulations in the Western United States for online learning, Izumi found in Short Circuited. “The union still wants to protect classrooms and the teachers who staff them,” Izumi wrote.

In 2005, the California Federation of Teachers issued its revised contract template titled, “A Framework for Contract Negotiations Related to Educational Technology Issues.”  According to Izumi, it is still being used, and is referenced on its website.

The following language is from this contract template:

Policy rationale: Contracting out bargaining unit work can take the form of a district contracting with an independent contractor to produce course software. A district could contract with a company to produce certain course offerings or could offer courses over the Internet that have not been developed in-house. In each case, someone else is doing the bargaining unit’s work. 

A.Model Contract Language 

No employee shall be displaced because of distance learning or other educational technology. The use of distance education technology shall not be used to reduce, eliminate, or consolidate faculty positions within the district. 

No work normally performed by any member of the faculty bargaining unit shall be contracted out without the express agreement of the Federation. 

No distance education sections shall be instructed or conducted by persons not employed within the faculty bargaining unit. 

No distance education or technology-related work shall be performed by other than members of this bargaining unit. 

No member of the bargaining unit will be displaced because of distance learning or computer-aided courses as long as workload in credit courses is available in traditional modes. 

Izumi’s book reveals the endless education possibilities in online learning. And kudos to Gov. Brown for saying that he supports online education. But, if he truly supports online learning in California, there are real reforms in the education code, and within the CFT and CTA, which must take place before Brown will truly be furthering student learning through online education.

Throwing more money from the state budget at online education won’t help students as long as the teachers unions are waiting in the wings to lap it up in fat contracts.

This video was made by Izumi, and focuses on the challenges and advantages of online education and virtual learning.


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