Iowa A.G. Tom Miller: Online-only schools ok

One avenue pursued by those opposed to allowing online-only schools run by out-of-state for-profit businesses with minimal profit sharing with two Iowa school districts was to ask the office of the Iowa Attorney General for a ruling on the legality of those schools in our state.  If you can’t tell where I stand on the issue of these schools based on that last sentence, you can read my earlier posts on this issue here and here.

While I was hoping that Attorney General Tom Miller would find that the schools would be in violation of state law, I certainly respect his ruling.  Despite the opposition to these schools from both sides of the aisle in the Iowa Legislature, the support they’ve garnered from Governor Terry Branstad and his appointee Education Secretary Jason Glass has created a partisan angle.  A.G. Miller, a democratically elected Democrat should be praised for issuing his ruling despite any political feelings he may have on the issue.

Online academics get the OK from AG by Mary Stegmeir from the Des Moines Register, Mar. 13, 2012

Online schools are permissible under state law, according to an opinion released this afternoon by Iowa Attorney General Tom Miller.

[…]

“It could be argued that internet learning was not envisioned when the legislation was passed in 1987 and that privatization of public elementary and secondary education is such a significant step that new legislation is necessary,” Miller writes in the opinion, citing a 25-year-old law that allows the use of telecommunications as an instructional tool. (Read the full document here.)

However, Miller goes on to state that the online courses are permitted, as long as the curriculum is taught by a properly licensed teacher and that students enrolled in the course are supervised — two components that are accounted for by Iowa’s proposed online schools.

Sounds like those in the legislature who oppose this shift in Iowa education such as Senator Tom Courtney, D-Burlington, need to get to work on legislation that would block these schools.  Being past funnel week, this likely wouldn’t be possible until next year’s legislative session.

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