June 22, 2022

Students in Personalized Learning Schools Deserve Fair Funding

Courtesy: APLUS+

CORE Butte Charter is a public, personalized learning charter school that supports families who homeschool their children.

For two years, the Covid has destabilized the traditional education system, forcing everyone out of their traditional roles. Almost overnight, students became remote learners, parents became part-time teachers, and teachers literally brought the classroom home.

During the pandemic, some parents have learned something very important. After experimenting with a form of personalized learning, they discovered that non-traditional education provided a better method of learning for their children because it provided more individualized instruction.

The personalized learning model relies on flexible and adaptable delivery options on how, what, when, where and with whom each student learns. The California Senate passed Senate Resolution 36 in 2004 officially recognizing personalized learning as “an innovative and distinguished learning model and choice in California public education”, further providing defining and distinguishing features of the model. And now, while most students have returned to traditional classroom learning, other students have not. A growing number of parents have decided that the frame is less important than their child’s academic progress.

Key takeaways: Apprenticeship is not a one-size-fits-all or one-stop-shop. Delivering learning that can be personalized, flexible and adaptable both to students and to unforeseen external circumstances is essential now and in the future.

Rather than incorporating this newly realized idea into state education funding, the state education budget does not treat all schools equally. Currently, the agreement on the joint legislative budget would allow school districts and public classroom charter schools to use a modified version of the 2021-22 average daily attendance to determine funding for the 2021-22 school year. This disclaimer allows these schools to recover some of the losses resulting from declining enrollment due to the pandemic over the past school year. It also provides all school administrators and decision makers with a stronger and more stable fiscal basis to make critical decisions about hiring or reducing staff and teachers, expanding or reducing programs and instructional options. , and the creation of mental health and other student support services that have become so crucial during the pandemic isolation of students. All school administrators, whether they apply classroom education models or not, face similar critical decisions about the future of their programs.

Unfortunately, the more than 300 out-of-classroom public charter schools in California that have demonstrated the success and benefits of personalized and flexible learning models during the pandemic would not receive this innocuous funding, creating two tiers of funding for students in the schools. and setting a precedent of funding inequality.

Many of the more than 200,000 students who attend classless public charter schools in California are disadvantaged and marginalized students who have failed to be in a classroom five days a week. Instead, they have found success in a personalized learning environment where they have the option of attending school in person or from home through an education plan tailored to their abilities, needs and interests. In fact, many of these students attend school in person four out of five days a week.

California law defines an out-of-classroom public charter school as a school in which more than 20% of the students enrolled in the school receive more than 20% of the total instruction outside of a classroom. The term non-classroom-based was never intended to literally describe a school’s education delivery model, but rather was designed to distinguish between two distinct types of accounting processes. attendance at charter schools (attendance time versus time value of student work produced). Unfortunately, non-classroom teaching is a confusing and misleading term that has fostered widespread misunderstanding among policy makers and the public and has led some to intentionally misrepresent who these schools are and what they do.

If the state truly wants all students to succeed, then the K-12 education budget must provide a fair and equitable funding formula and extend the disclaimer to all public schools. It is disheartening that the state cannot or does not provide answers as to why a segment of public school students will receive less funding this school year, especially given the billions of dollars in discretionary funding that could be used to treat all students fairly because of the state. record budget surplus.

The reason for undermining students in personalized learning is certainly not the quality of education. In May, the California Department of Education recognized eight APLUS+ member schools for their outstanding distance learning programs offered during the pandemic.

So, the question is: What is the reason for the unfair treatment of students in public personalized learning charter schools? Is it because the state places less value on the academic success of these students?

As we learn from the pandemic, our knowledge can be used to improve public policy. The Governor and Legislature have the ability to ensure that all children succeed – but to do that they must not pick winners and losers, and they must ensure that all public schools are funded equally .

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Jeff Rice is founder/director of Association of Personalized Learning Schools and Services (APLUS+), a non-profit organization dedicated to advancing the personalized learning model for students.

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