Cyberschools, online classes and virtual tutoring may force change in public education argue Terry Moe and John Chubb in Liberating Learning. The book looks at how technology shifts political power, writes James K. Glassman in a Wall Street Journal review:
Teachers unions, of course, are appalled. They know that “the new computer-based approaches to learning simply require far fewer teachers per student — perhaps half as many, and possibly fewer than that,” Messrs. Moe and Chubb write. Online charter schools employ two or three teachers per 100 students; the average public school employs 6.8 per 100. Technology also disperses teachers geographically (making them elusive for union organizers); lets in private-sector players who aren’t members of the guild; and enables outsourcing to foreign countries. For unions, technology is poison.
Moe and Chubb believe parents will demand access to online education. School districts, hit by rising labor costs, will “turn to technology as a way to get more for less.” Glassman fears politics will trump productivity as office-holders consider “the election-time productivity of unions that help politicians get into office and stay there.”
Frontline’s Digital Nation is hosting a discussion tomorrow on education in the digital age.