How do online courses meet students’ needs? Why should every high school offer online courses to their students? One answer can be found in this letter to the Modesto Bee found in my local paper last week.
Letter to the Editor
May 17, 2012
I’ve been doing some reflection over the last couple of weeks as graduation approaches. I am a senior and have spent the last four years of my life attending Johansen High School. I was a cheerleader, an AP student, involved in many different clubs and have held various leadership positions. I believe that I received a very good education from Modesto City Schools.
As we draw closer to the end, the school would like the current students to go and promote Johansen to several different middle schools in an effort to boost the enrollment for next year. The problem is, the district is so busy cutting programs and extracurricular activities that students are choosing to attend other high schools.
I recently learned that speech and debate, drama and journalism have all been cut from next year’s schedule due to lack of funding. So what happens now? French 4 and Spanish 4 have not been offered at Johansen for quite some time now, and other higher-level classes may be next on the chopping block. As more classes are cut, it’s no wonder Johansen students are choosing to take their education elsewhere.
This high school, and many others across California have had to reduce low enrollment courses due to years of budget cuts. School Districts can’t afford a French 4 or an AP Calculus course if they can’t find 30 (or more likely 40) students who desire the same course. You can’t blame districts for fighting to stay alive fiscally. However, you can/must blame them for being shortsighted. Cutting language and high-level academic courses pushes away the very students who raise your API score, who graduate to prestigious colleges, and who will take their ADA to a school that will meet their needs.
Online learning, particularly the Self-Blend, is an easy way for districts to offer orphan courses to students. Don’t have 40 students for Spanish 4? No problem. Provide the five students who DO need it an online option. You’ll keep your ADA as well.