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ERIC Number: EJ845832
Record Type: Journal
Publication Date: 2009
Pages: 7
Abstractor: ERIC
Reference Count: N/A
ISSN: ISSN-1539-9664
Florida's Online Option
Tucker, Bill
Education Next, v9 n3 p12-18 Sum 2009
Education reform often appears a zero-sum battle, one that pits crusaders demanding accountability and choice against much of the traditional education establishment, including teachers unions. The political skirmishes in Florida, including court fights over vouchers and charter schools, and ongoing struggles over a parade of different merit pay plans for teachers, give credence to the standard portrayal. This article reports on the state-run Florida Virtual School (FLVS), a decade-old public education experiment, which departs from this conventional script. This most radical of choice-based schools--where students and teachers never meet in physical classrooms and state funding flows on a performance-based, demand-driven model--has largely avoided the political and legal tangles that have stymied other reform efforts. And, free from the geographic constraints and facilities costs of traditional schools, FLVS has grown rapidly, scaling up to match the considerable demand for the school's courses. In the 2008-2009 school year, approximately 84,000 students will complete 168,000 half-credit courses, a 10-fold increase since 2002-2003. To accomplish this rare feat, the school has adroitly walked a fine line. It has built a distinct educational philosophy, approach, and culture. At the same time, it has maintained its identity as a public school and remains part of the system. This unique positioning, far enough outside to do business in a different way yet sufficiently inside the system to avoid political backlash, has been a key element in the school's success. Savvy leadership, strong political support, and a series of well-timed decisions around growth have helped FLVS become the country's most successful virtual school, and perhaps one of its most important reform stories as well. (Contains 3 figures.)
Hoover Institution. Stanford University, Stanford, CA 94305-6010. Tel: 800-935-2882; Fax: 650-723-8626; e-mail:; Web site:
Publication Type: Journal Articles; Reports - Descriptive
Education Level: High Schools; Secondary Education
Audience: N/A
Language: English
Sponsor: N/A
Authoring Institution: N/A
Identifiers - Location: Florida