(AP Photo/Damian Dovarganes)

July 2, 2017

Last month, the Nevada State Legislature failed to fund the Education Savings Account (ESA’s) program, even after the NV State Supreme Court declared it Constitutional. And last month a well-respected educational study ranked Nevada at number 49th in the US. Many states in the Union have tried to create school voucher programs only to see the left shut them down either in court or in the legislature with the power of the teacher’s unions and with other institutional barriers.

But just as Uber and Lyft have disrupted the taxi cab business through technology advancements, education may be on the edge of a technology revolution as well that threatens to disrupt the flow of billions of dollars to public schools and the future of the public schools as we know them. Currently the government tells students what schools they must attend and what subjects they must study. But with online school programs, students can attend any school they want and study whatever topics they choose today..

Today, in our very own Clark County School District, many students attend High School entirely online from home. In 2104 CCSD started offering “Virtual High School and Academy” or online school through the Nevada Learning Academy. And College of Southern Nevada currently offers, at CCSD, online programs. Many see the online college programs from CSN as a great marketing tool to attract more future students after graduation.

So imagine if you and your K thru 12 students could choose to take classes online from any school of your choice, including Harvard and Yale, all the while sitting in your local school building. We could let local kids in Nevada take math from the Massachusetts public school district, who is rated #1 in the US or even from MIT? Today many colleges and universities offer online classes and entire degrees in a host of disciplines. Many students today can obtain a college degree without even finishing high school.

The main issue will be funding. Who should get the federal, state and local funds if a CCSD student sitting in a CCSD school building chooses to take math online from MIT? And that will be the real test for our political system to work out and not kill through existing artificial funding and bureaucratic barriers. President Trump and the Republicans in Congress are currently reviewing different options to fund and structure a national voucher system. A national school voucher would be the easiest way to fund a new system like this using the federal income tax. The Federal government could give parents tax credits and a new earned income tax credit for the poor.

Schools of the future may be more babysitting centers where students go to study reading, writing and math on their own laptops, but still attend music and sports on campus.  This new future threatens teachers because there will be far less need for them as another industry is disrupted by emerging technologies. As with all technology revolutions throughout history, people will fight progress and defend outdated institutions as the future runs right over them.

Rob Lauer

Political Reporter




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