Committed To Fighting For Equity and Access in Public Education

Featuring interviews, testimony and analysis on issues facing public education in the U.S. through voices of teachers, parents, students, community members, education activists and education scholars. Education Radio is committed to exposing the profit driven interests fueling current education policies while addressing issues of true equity and access in public education.

Friday, September 30, 2011

The Reality of Virtual Schooling

Follow the links below to download this show as a podcast:

Internet Archive
Audioport (podcast)

In this week's program, we explore the proliferation of virtual schools. Virtual schools offer on-line education to primary and secondary school students without the added expenses associated with brick and mortar structures and unionized teachers and support staff. 

We hear opinions on virtual schools from well-known education scholars Jonathon Kozol and Diane Ravitch. We investigate one such virtual school, the Massachusetts Virtual Academy in Greenfield, Massachusetts. We talk with the superintentendent of schools, Dr. Susan Hollins, who was the driving force behind the opening of that school in 2010, and we also speak with two Greenfield School Committee members, Maryelen Calderwood and Andrew Blais, who opposed it. Finally, we turn to early childhood education scholar Nancy Carlsson-Paige, who talks about the vitally important social, emotional and cognitive needs of young children that are in danger of not being met by virtual schools.

We also explore K12 Inc., a for-profit publicly traded technology-based education company that touts itself as the largest provider of proprietary curriculum and online education programs for primary and secondary students in the United States. It is also one of the fastest growing operators of virtual charter schools worldwide. K-12 Inc. was founded in 1999 by Michael Milken and William J. Bennett, a former Reagan Secretary of Education and Bush senior drug czar. We take some time to talk about the background of these men, along with several others involved with this company. 
To learn more about virtual schools and about what you hear on this program, visit the following links:
Education According to Mike Milken by John Hechinger
Virtual Schools Expand Students' Network by Laura Insensee
Outsourcing Information: The Rise of Virtual Schools by Nancy Hanover
The Massachusetts Virtual Academy
Susan Ohanian on K-12


  1. Once again, these are both in mp3 format. Can you all be sure it is podcast comaptable? Episode 6 is still mp.


  2. I applaud the amount of investigative journalism gone into this show, but I feel that going in you already planned that your take would be negative.
    I understand you are bringing up the issues, which is good, but there are some positives as well and like someone said in the beginning, it is just another form of education. It is another choice. If you don't want corporates to run the virtual school, then get someone else to do it. Or do it yourself.
    I also like to point out that like in home schooling, children can learn social skills from other places - like a sports club or maybe they attend dance class, or some other type of hobby after 'school'. Virtual school might not be the best answer for the masses, but I am sure, just like all niche education choices, that someone could possible benefit from it and it might suit their education style better. Maybe not this virtual school, but maybe in the future.