“I’m still wondering how all this will work, given the parental choice,” Jaquet said.
But Luna counters that it’s very unlikely that a parent or student will venture outside the list of courses provided by their school district. He is also skeptical that online curriculum companies will “cherry pick” students when Idaho is offering a statewide contract.
The task force is expected to send out a request for information from potential online course providers later this week, said Jason Hancock, who serves as Luna’s deputy chief of staff. A request for proposals from online vendors would go out to bid early next year.
“We’re probably looking at some time in March, maybe April,” Hancock said.
Proponents of online education said the virtual classes will help the state save money and better prepare students for college. But critics said they’ll replace teachers with computers and shift state taxpayer money to the out-of-state companies that will be tapped to provide the online education courses and laptops.
The online class requirement was approved last week by the state Board of Education and will go before Idaho lawmakers for review in the 2012 session, which starts in January. It will apply to students entering the 9th grade in fall 2012.
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