JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. -- The state Chamber of Commerce says Missouri needs to offer more digital learning opportunities to its K-12 students. It released a study last week that makes that case.
For the state to move in that direction would require changes in policy, funding appropriations and improvements in the state's broadband infrastructure.
Senator Ed Emery (R-Lamar) says none of those things are reasons to delay.
"We can do a significant amount of virtual education with the infrastructure that we currently have. Now there may be some things that we can not do, but because there are some things that we can not do is not a reason to not do what we can."
Emery has proposed again this year legislation that would allow students to enroll in charter schools or school districts in which they do not live to take online courses. He says that fits right into the findings of the study, and Chamber spokespeople noted his bill in presenting those results.
"A discussion of the advantages that specific families or students had received from being able to access virtual schools, whether it was a course or whether it was because it was a lack of an ability to sit in a bricks-and-mortar building."
Emery says online learning could be a greater benefit to students than traditional classrooms.
"It really does begin to tailor the education process to the individual student probably more effectively and simply than anything else we can do. It's a whole lot easier to transport data than it is to transport students."
He says development of digital learning would also spur developments in the areas needed to support it.
"As we get better at this and as we learn the value of it and begin to see that demonstrated, that is a new incentive, or at least a renewed incentive, to expand the infrastructure."
The Chamber also noted legislation previously filed by Representative Kathy Swan (R-Cape Girardeau) that would let dual-enrollment high school students take online post-secondary courses and remedial and credit recovery courses to be offered online.
(Mike Lear, Missourinet)