America’s education system needs a reboot with bold new techniques



Erika Donalds

Throughout the pandemic, school districts across America have been giving families their first taste of remote learning…and it stunk for most of them. Pupils struggled at home with a shoddy curriculum, watching teachers try to solve technical problems in real time, while parents prayed for a quick reopening and a return to physical schools.

Some school districts have even dared to say that they – and they alone – should have control over the educational options offered to families. This has led to a resounding backlash in favor of school choice and greater parental involvement in deciding how and where their children should learn.

This was the driving force behind Virginia parents sending a school choice advocate to the governor’s mansion in November and will no doubt lead to a wave of change in the next election cycle.

We recently celebrated National School Choice Week, where we stood up for parents as they demand greater control over their children’s education – a need more critical than ever this year. If the pandemic has taught us anything, it’s that too many of our children don’t have the educational options they need to succeed.

In K-12 education, one size does NOT fit all. Physical schools offer a great solution for most students, but they shouldn’t be the only option. We must offer families a variety of educational options and allow them to choose the one that best suits their needs.

Likewise, we must constantly explore new approaches to education. We need to encourage innovation in schools as in any other field, from technology to health care. We can’t sit idly by while today’s students struggle with 30-year-old distance learning systems using outdated technology that doesn’t align with the way young people think and treat learning. news today.

It’s time to provide better options for thousands of families who are better served by virtual education, those who love and thrive in homeschooling, who would otherwise have to attend underperforming or unsafe local public schools. , students living in rural communities or those who require isolation due to health conditions.

Some forms of school choice have put old technology in the rearview mirror, exploding with the latest technological innovations. For example, I am associated with a new company in the virtual domain
virtual reality (VR) education, Optima Classical Academy, which will become the world‘s first VR charter school when it opens this fall. We look forward to welcoming thousands of Florida students in grades 3-8 to experience a K12 education like no other today.

Virtual reality is rapidly ushering in the next stage in the evolution of education with its ability to “transport” individuals to new interactive environments across space and time. The possibility of discovering virtual places with others opens up a new form of communication and a profoundly improved method of distance learning.

The VR experience is superior to “Zoom school”, which had adverse effects on children’s academic and social development. Parents of students choosing home learning are excited about this innovative approach because it allows students to interact with each other and a high-quality, classic curriculum in a way that no screen could ever offer. .

Our country’s next generation will be better educated if – and only if – parents have more freedom to choose what best suits their particular needs. Technological advancements like virtual reality are crucial in providing more options for parents. We must unite and support them in exercising academic freedom throughout the year.

Erika Donalds is a school choice advocate and CEO and President of the Optima Foundation.

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