On the first day of her senior year at North Miami Beach Senior High School, Naomi Baptiste expected to be greeted by a teacher when she walked into her precalculus class. “All there were were computers in the class,” said Naomi, who walked into a room of confused students. “We found out that over the summer they signed us up for these courses.” Naomi is one of over 7,000 students in Miami-Dade County Public Schools enrolled in a program in which core subjects are taken using computers in a classroom with no teacher, reports the New York Times. A “facilitator” is in the room to make sure students progress. That person also deals with any technical problems. These virtual classrooms, called e-learning labs, were put in place last August as a result of Florida’s Class Size Reduction Amendment, passed in 2002. The amendment limits the number of students allowed in classrooms, but not in virtual labs. While most schools held an orientation about the program, some students and parents said they were not informed of the new class structure. Others said they were not given the option to choose whether they wanted this type of instruction, and they voiced concern over the program’s effectiveness…

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staff and wire services reports