Is Virtual Schooling Here To Stay? Our Former State Secretary Of Education Gives The Pros & Cons

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Former state secretary of education Paul Reville spoke to Boston Public Radio on Thursday about how online virtual schooling could be here to stay even after the pandemic.

“There’s an interesting phenomenon developing that some families and some students might prefer virtual schooling,” he said. “There are any number of reports from students and from families that their particular child learns more easily in this kind of a fashion due to special needs, their own personality, or anxieties about going out to school.”

An increasing number of school districts are taking the initiative to launch virtual schools and to provide a virtual option to people, not just this year in the midst of this crisis, but in the long run, Reville noted. “They intend to set-up virtual schools to give parents the option, should they want, to have their children learn from home,” he said. “And this is more widespread than expected.”

One of the multiple downsides of having a permanent virtual schooling option is that students would miss out on socialization, Reville added.

“The social function of education is to help children learn to interact with one another, to disagree agreeably, to make common cause with their peers, to have fun, to make relationships, and if we make it highly individualized there are risks and downsides,” he said. “But there are also obviously position features that if were you a parent and had a child that really needed this, you could hardly blame that parent for wanting the school system to provide this, now that we know we can do it.”

Reville is a professor at Harvard Graduate School of Education and co-author of the upcoming book Collaborative Action for Equity and Opportunity: A Practical Guide for School and Community Leaders.

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