Are online courses a way to reach the disaffected and disengaged?

The AJC has an interesting story about a Cobb alternative school managed by a private company, Ombudsman Educational Services.

Oakwood Digital Academy provides a second chance at a diploma to high school students who are off track. The school provides flexibility because it offers self-directed online courses. The students must attend school each day for three hours, but they have three blocks of time from which to choose, allowing them to juggle work and classes.

It appears the self-directed study and flexible scheduling are an appealing combo. The school has 150 kids on its waiting list. But Oakwood also has a grad rate of 40 percent, which it blames on the fact that its students arrive far behind and have to play catch-up.

According to the AJC:

Superintendent Michael Hinojosa understands the argument. Transferring students do “partially” affect the school’s numbers, he said. “But that’s still no excuse.” He said he’ll be watching for improvement. The multi-year contract with Ombudsman can be canceled each spring.

Cobb hired the company because of one significant number: $5,000. That’s roughly the amount Ombudsman is charging to educate each student, far less than the $18,000 or so that Cobb spent per student when it did the job itself.

Ombudsman is known around the country for managing alternative schools that are a destination for misbehaving students. The company runs more than 40 schools in Georgia, most of them disciplinary centers, including several in Cobb.

Oakwood is different, though. The students there chose the school. The first “choice” digital school managed by Ombudsman has been operating in Douglas County for three years. The newest school opened in Greene County this year.

When students are stumped, they get the undivided attention of four teachers who are certified in the core subject areas. The students must attend daily but only for three hours. And there are three blocks of time to choose from. The school is geared toward working students who need the flexibility.

John Wacha, a regional executive with Ombudsman, said there are several indicators of improved performance. The grade point average rose to 2.61 last year from 1.64 the previous year. Scores also improved on English and science tests, though they dropped slightly in math and more in social studies.

“We made some improvements,” he said. “We know we have some things to improve upon.”

–From Maureen Downey, for the AJC Get Schooled blog

48 comments Add your comment

patrick crabtree

October 31st, 2011
6:18 am

It all sounds good, but who is monitoring the private company? It may look as if it ’saves money,’ but it may be more costly in the long run. Having taught over 30 years, I find that most students are not self motivated and that this the tension in the classroom that leads to discipline problems. The students simply want to get a grade and do nothing. Very few of these students (40%) make it to graduation. What about the 60%? They have this money spent on them and yet they would have to return again to the regular schools. Here is something else to consider: if these students did not make it in the regular classroom, then how will they make it in a job? Once a student opts out of the regular classroom, then the student (parents) should have to pay for it. I just wish that everyone would stop thinking the solution to our education woes can be solved with a simple solution. It is very complex and it starts at birth and unless the value of education is instilled in the child, then all efforts are almost futile. The child must first WANT to learn and that starts at home.

patrick crabtree

October 31st, 2011
6:21 am

“The grade point average rose to 2.61 last year from 1.64 the previous year.” That kind of significant gain sounds oh too familiar. Can we say Atlanta Public Schools? That kind if growth is statistically questionable.

@ patrick crabtree

October 31st, 2011
6:30 am

@ patrick crabtree: You’re right it works for some of the folks at APS -


Kathy Augustine has a “doctorate” from Harvard. You might ask, how did such a miscreant reach such a level? Slime balls tend to stick together.

Beverly Hall sat on the board of directors for the Urban Superintendent’s program at Harvard. Hall was selected for this position based on her creation of the “Atlanta Miracle.” In essence, she was the figurehead that spearheaded Augustine’s acceptance.

So, it was more than a coincidence that Augustine gained admittance to the program. Her high school and undergraduate grades would never have qualified her for consideration. This online program is designed for inner city urban administrators who have been associated with improved student achievement. Most school districts pay the tuition for participants and virtually all finish with a “doctorate” degree – a cash cow for Harvard. Please believe me when I give testimony that some of the graduates are unable to write a coherent sentence.

For most, the program requires a minimum amount of work. Often participants such as Augustine assign their dissertation topics as special projects to their research and evaluation departments, and it is they who do the bulk of the work (review of literature, project design & crunching of numbers).

Quite frankly, it is a ghetto degree!

The Inside Scoop
3rd floor,
130 Trinity Ave.


October 31st, 2011
6:43 am

This may be the first private digital academy, but it is not the first charter school in GA to operate this way. In the past I’ve worked at a self-paced, computer-based evening charter school.

Yes, it all sounds good and it is the “wave of the future.” I’ve been to several conferences over the past year where DOE and legislative officials are talking more and more about high schools “without walls.”

It will be packaged as a great money saver for the state of GA and a way to reach the disengaged. Watch for someone to introduce this idea at the next legislative session.


If your goal is a diploma for the sake of a diploma, this is the way to go.

For a SMALLl segment of the population who would probably NEVER walk across the graduation stage, these types of programs do serve a purpose.

If your goal is TRUE learning, then this is a Sam’s Club version of education.

Test scores and grade point averages do improve. Students just retake quizzes and tests on the computer until the get the required minimum score. If you see the same multiple choice question enough, you’ll eventually remember the correct answer.

True learning that prepares a student for post-secondary education..not so much.

Before folks jump on this bandwagon as the silver bullet to education, I urge them to look closely at these programs. This is a great solution for a small population of students. It is not a good solution for the majority of students.


October 31st, 2011
6:52 am

It is hard to imagine the private company could do any worse than government. Why not give them a chance? Obviously, the company should be monitored … likewise, for government schools.


October 31st, 2011
6:56 am

I guess that fewer parents come in to challenge grades, since it is the computer that does it. We all know kids do poorly because the teachers are not prepared, are lazy, etc, so this appears to solve that problem. Of course, when the kids don’t understand, they turn to….live teachers! Well, maybe live teachers are somewhat important.

I agree with teacher and mom, above. I had to work a period a day at the local alternative, computer based school and it was a joke. if the student did not pass the assignment, it was just reassigned and reassigned until they came up with the magic score. They could even assign the student ONLY the ones they had missed and the student could immediately guess again. This doesn’t work well with the majority of students, who had unaddressed behavior issues for years and were subsequently years and years behind their peers. So they “passed” but did not know much more than they did before, except that gaming the system worked. Not such a good thing for them to learn!

Dr NO / Mr Sunshine

October 31st, 2011
7:36 am

Sounding questionable at best and no doubt as these grades increase so will the pricing…another financial money pit.


October 31st, 2011
8:04 am

@ patrick crabtree – “Quite frankly, it is a ghetto degree!” I concur.


October 31st, 2011
8:16 am

The virtual school classes are a lot more rigorous than the actual class the kids take in school. The kids are accountable to a person and have assignment due dates.

Curious One

October 31st, 2011
8:21 am

Next thing we will read and hear about should be the facts behind the ED.d’s (doctors) and how phony most are ! Nothing but a cash cow for university with greed being their primary motivator. Then the consequence for the taxpayer is to pay higher salaries for these phony degrees and the students suffer with inferior classroom and administrative instructors. Why are so many Georgian educators holding out of state degrees earned while working full-time in Georgia schools – fishy does not begin to describe the smell of these Ed.d worms ? And Ivy League schools like Harvard and Penn and right in the middle of the mess ! When will ombusman be offering Ed.D’s for a few hours on a computer studying most anything – one should question the value of contribution of this “magical” software – why are all schools using it if it works so well ?

HS Public Teacher

October 31st, 2011
8:38 am

I have taken an online course in graduate school. It was a joke. I cannot imagine that high school online courses are any better.

You basically click through the screens. Then, you answer questions online. But remember, you are sitting right there and have your textbook, other books, and google available at your disposal to answer the questions. No need to remember or learn anything at all!

These courses are a waste of time and money….. unless of course you just want a grade and not learn anything.


October 31st, 2011
8:39 am

Teacher mom writes


If your goal is a diploma for the sake of a diploma, this is the way to go.”

So please explain what it is we have right now? I have watched a neighbors 2nd grader who was made to sit in the corner for the entire year until the mother showed up for a party and asked why her child was sitting by herself at the back of the class. She immediately removed her child from public school after being informed of this situation and purchased the Abeka Program. The school never mentioned any behavior problems to the parents yet the student was not involved with the daily classroom activities. The kicker is this student had a report card with all A”s just like our children have. No RED FLAG THERE? HHHHMMMM??? Remember parents, your children don’t tell you everything that happens in school and I have even had our children come home and tell us the teacher said not to tell your parents about certain goings on at school and I’m not talking about a “Suprise Party.” This child has not only caught up to grade level but is doing the same work in the 4th grade program our 5th grader is learning and somehow the program also found the time to teach this child to write cursive. The biggest difference I have noticed is that this student is comprehending and retaining what has been taught were our children come home confused and the only way they learn anything is to have class after school, on weekends and during the summer at home after begging teachers and administration to inform us what this weeks lesson is. ,,,,,,, Enter your comment here,,,,,

Someone was observant enough to see Kathy Augustine has been educated to a different standard than we would expect with such a degree from a top ranked school. Call me racist but we only have to look back a few years to the days of Affirmative Action to see how this happened. Now if you call me racist for this comment please watch the video below and hear what the Texas Desoto ISD board had to say. Then tell me these black board members are also racist. We also have a president and first lady of fashion that are also graduates of this program, but remember the families of wealth also have been allowed to pull the educational wool over our eyes too. Do the names Gore & Bush happen to ring a bell? Think real hard. Then think about electing & appointing true leaders instead of the politically correct and the people of wealth. had to say.

Another Math Teacher

October 31st, 2011
8:42 am

teacher&mom and catlady:

It sounds like both of you have very little experience with online programs and are making judgements.

First, not all online programs are that e2020 crap. That program is multiple guess until a diploma appears in your hand. From what I’ve seen (and this seems to be what catlady has seen,) the local warehouse for behaviour problems is barely more than this.

Second, not all of the kids are behaviour problem kids. Actually, the kids I have dealt with have been the opposite. Very polite emails and phone calls. (Many of them even go with ‘Yes Sir’ and ‘No Sir.’) I suspect that a high percentage of them are going with online schooling to avoid the problem children that infest some of our in person public schools.

So, many programs address many areas. Some good, some bad.

E2020 -warehouses kids locally with little to no educational value.

Alternative school (Ombudsman typically) – warehouses kids remotely. Little benefit to the kid that is there, but removes disruptions from local school. Some kids decide to work and make it to a technical school.

Online classes for typical high school students – Much higher academic standards. Kids held accountable for their work. Great escape from behaviour problems in local schools. Great for classes that don’t have the numbers to hold the class locally. Individual students are not held up by slow students. Slower students don’t feel pressure from faster students.

Online classes for high performing high school students (typically hosted by universities)- Allows bright students to take classes that would never make the numbers locally.

Maureen Downey:

“Are online courses a way to reach the disaffected and disengaged?”

Absolutely not. Students don’t change because you put them in front of a computer.

HS Public Teacher

October 31st, 2011
8:43 am


It is not just education. There are online college degrees for almost everything these days. And, I agree with you that they are not worth the paper that they are printed on!

HS Public Teacher

October 31st, 2011
8:48 am

I would like to clarlify the difference between an “online class” and a real-time video class (often called an “online class”).

Real-time video classes are very respectable. They are basically Skype classes where students can remotely see the real-time professor and also ask questions just as if the student were in the same room. GA Tech offers these types of courses in Calculus and other areas to high school students. The tests are real tests and not just on-line questions.

Online classes are canned powerpoints (or something like it) that the students click through and learn nothing.

Another Math Teacher

October 31st, 2011
8:59 am

HS Public Teacher:

“I would like to clarlify the difference between an “online class” and a real-time video class (often called an “online class”).

Online classes are canned powerpoints (or something like it) that the students click through and learn nothing.”

That’s a rather simplistic and incorrect definition.


October 31st, 2011
9:13 am

But remember, you are sitting right there and have your textbook, other books, and google available at your disposal to answer the questions.

It doesn’t even have to be “you” it can be a sibling, parent, SO….whoever. I saw this all the time when I took college math. It was a regular course, but the homework was done online. Undisciplined/lazy students arrived for tests without the slightest clue of material they’d supposedly mastered because somebody else did their grunt work.

The upside to this program is we’re only wasting $5000 per student. Maybe we can shift some money back to the non-alternative students.


October 31st, 2011
9:15 am

Maureen – please do not get me started. Online and digital sounds good to the public. But in my opinion, there are only 5,000 reasons why school boards employ Ombudsman and each one has to do with the price tag and a way to keep struggling students out of traditional schools to keep test scores high. Almost any model will help some kids – but Georgia has 39 Ombudsman operating these facilities as the article said, and a vast majority for students who have been paneled – no one is there by choice under that scenario – and not a one of the schools is being monitored properly.


October 31st, 2011
9:21 am

Curious One touches on a very good point.

My “Conspiracy Theory” takes it to a new level.

Why is every student pointed to college as the only choice in public school? Here is where it really gets crazy. Has anyone ever tried to buy a student loan as an investment? It seems you can’t. Who do you make your student loan payment to? You can pay someones delinquent property taxes on the steps of courthouses across the country in return for a piece of paper but not someones student loan debt.

Now why does everyone need to attend college? Many cannot afford the cost. I find it interesting that a 30 year treasury yeilds less than the interest paid on student loans. I also find it odd that the only debts an individual cannot be forgiven for in bankruptcy are taxes, child support and “Student Loan Debt? Afterall, the government can default on your 30 year treasury note. Not probable, but possible.

So could it possibly be that the schools themselves are the brokers for student loan money to continue the very existence of their great establishments seeing the guarantee of return exists only for this one program? And where does all the late payment and penalty money paid to the program go?

And some think the credit card companies have quite a racket!

Maybe I need to talk to Jesse Ventura abou this?

Then again, maybe I think too much and I’m destined for the State Hospital?


October 31st, 2011
9:27 am

@Another Math Teacher: You’d be surprised how much experience I have with online programs like Nova Net, Pearson CourseWare, Apex, WriteToLearn, etc.

If a high school student is looking at an online or computerized instruction and intends to enter the military, be aware….not every branch of the military will not accept the diploma.

Are these programs a way to reach the disengaged? Yes & no. The programs do help these students earn a diploma. Unfortunately these students miss out on science labs, hands-on vocational classes, etc. They just sit in front of a computer and work through the lessons.

Yes… it is a means to a high school diploma…but then what? Are they successfully transitioning to a vo-tech program or the workforce?

October 31st, 2011
9:36 am

I think these could potentially be a great option for students who are either exceptionally motivated or who will age out of the system. As far as reaching the disengaged, I think that is a crapshoot. Perhaps if these types of schools combined their programs with an internship program it would be more effective; stduents go to school in the morning (or whenever) and then for the remaining four hours they intern with a vet or an electrician or a solar panel installer or….whatever. Hire someone at Oakwood to specifically identify internship opportunities. They are truly everywhere. I have arranged two in the same number of day with very little difficulty. This also teaches on-the-job skills (puntuctuality, work ethic, etc) in a way that a worksheet will not.

The arguments about what the classes are teaching are funny; what do you remember from high school? Was there much of anything that you continue to use today? Not me. Most of it was read this then take the multiple choice quiz; there was not much that required thought or useful application.

Maybe instead of focusing on how bad online classes are we should look at the sorry state of test-based curriculum in general and fix that. One is no better than the other at this point; at least with Oakwood, school only lasts 3 hours and then students can go to work.


October 31st, 2011
9:42 am

Given the infinite variation within the Human Race, is it not plausible that there are children who will never respond to the institutional nature of many of our schools? I think every school system should have a safety valve, as it were, in the form of alternative schools that offer a different way to be a teenager. My guess is that you see behavior changes for the good at these places.


October 31st, 2011
9:48 am

@honeyfern: great suggestion about implementing an internship program. This is exactly what the “disengaged and distinterested” (i.e. usually high poverty students) need the most.


October 31st, 2011
9:51 am

Some kids just work and concentrate better without the typical classroom morons polluting the classroom environment.


October 31st, 2011
10:17 am

First, I’d really like to know what a ghetto degree is. Really. How does one come to this conclusion? Secondly, there is absolutely nothing wrong with obtaining an online degree. I’ve researched several and would really like to pursue my doctorate at BU, however the expense keeps me from doing so. I will say that most colleagues I know that started the program ended up quitting because of the amount of work they had to put into it.

Traditional brick and mortar schools are not for everyone. If this works for some, then I’m all for it.

Inman Park Boy

October 31st, 2011
10:29 am

It MAY be worth a try, but remember: a poor student is a poor student is a poor student…… An unmotivated teenager isn’t likely to “learrn” just be stuicking him in fromt of a computer.


October 31st, 2011
10:44 am

Kids are being pushed out into these alternative programs almost everyday. AYP people….AYP.

Live from Americus GA

October 31st, 2011
10:59 am

Omsbudman replaced our alternative school I’m Sumter County for two reasons:

1. It’s cheaper to operate

2. The superintendent is trying to get white people, who fled to Ellaville, to enroll their kids back in our school system.


October 31st, 2011
11:00 am

HS Public Teacher: I did a master’s online and it wasn’t a point and click degree, let me tell you. I have never researched so much or written so much in my life! It was from a real university and was very, very substantive.

I work with the “population” so many speak of here. In a given school, it can be from 5 to 25 percent of students who just aren’t cut out for the regular school environment. If done right, this can be a very effective way to help them work towards graduation. The amazing thing is that the one-on-one with the computer removes the social atmosphere that encourages so many to misbehave. Take away the friends and you get a kid who can focus and learn at his own pace. I don’t know what software they use, but it can be done where kids can’t use Google to find answers. Give these programs a chance- they are a very useful tool for kids often labeled “at-risk” because of discipline issues.

APS 4th grade teacher & a Proud Cheater!

October 31st, 2011
11:01 am

Great Idea!

I’ll go for another Master’s. I’ll let my husband do all the work. Heck, all I have to do is shell out the bucks.

Thank you very much,

Fighting in the Trenches, B.S., M.A., M.A. (sounds impressive)

Teacher Reader

October 31st, 2011
11:15 am

I can only speak for the K-12 on-line school. The curriculum offered is far more engaging than I was able to teach in DCSS. The teachers were helpful and students did do science experiments and had more materials than I had as a classroom teacher in DCSS.

Yes kids take retake tests, but shoot that happens in DCSS as well.

To me on-line schools are a viable alternative for children with parents who are engaged in their child’s education and are self motivated to learn. They are not for those that can’t make it in school.

Having taken on-line courses to keep my certification in other states, I have taken courses in which I have learned something and those that were a waste of time. I have little regard for on-line college degrees, as those that I know who have received them are not the brightest bulbs in the box and have done their degrees at the expense of their students’ learning.

College is not the end all be all, and alternatives need to be given and accepted by employers. Even as a teacher, I am not sure how much I really learned after my bachelors degree to get my teaching certificate and masters degree. I do believe that a one or even two year internship with a truly outstanding teacher would have served me much better.

I believe that the way to motivate many of these kids, is to let them be in the world without parent or government help. Let them see how difficult it really is and maybe they will appreciate an education. I believe that too many of our children have had too much handed to them and have no idea of how to work or appreciate what they have. Also, our schools suck and aren’t really teaching or engaging kids. Maybe if we stopped with the standards and testing and actually taught material, our kids would become more engaged and interested in learning for the sake of learning.

William Casey

October 31st, 2011
1:30 pm

I agree with almost everything TEACHER READER said, especially about the need for many kids to experience the difficulties of the “real world.”

My only direct experience with “online learning” were my own courses required to renew my certification. I found the experience mediocre in comparison to actual “in the classroom” learning.

I have a friend who is, because of complicated circumstances, taking college courses online. The best I can tell, he’s not getting much out of it. Better than nothing, I guess. But, he’s being supported by his mother in a lifestyle far above what he could afford on his own. Not much motivation to achieve.

Dr. Monica Henson

October 31st, 2011
1:31 pm

Online learning for high school students can be a lifesaver, but it is only as good as (1) the curriculum provided in the technology platform and (2) the people behind the school. High-tech can also be high-touch, and it takes a special skill set to create and implement the kind of program that combines the best of both.

“Regular” school works for the majority of kids, but there are subpopulations out there who can benefit greatly from competency-based credits provided via online learning. As for oversight, the Georgia Department of Education and the State Board of Education provide that for chartered virtual schools such as the Georgia Cyber Academy. Local districts provide it for programs such as Ombudsman and for locally chartered virtual schools, such as the new Gwinnett virtual academy.

Full disclosure: I am Executive Director of Provost Academy Georgia, which will be the state’s first virtual public high school (serving grades 9-12 exclusively). We are chartered by the State Board of Education and must report directly to them via GaDOE’s Charter Schools Division. Our charter was granted this summer following the Supreme Court decision voiding the Charter Schools Commission, and we requested and were granted a deferral on opening. We are hopeful and confident that the legislature and the SBE will come up with a solution to provide adequate funding for virtual charter high school students (virtual charter schools were not included in the Governor’s bridge funding this year after the Supreme Court decision).

Families deserve the opportunity to select the best educational environment for their children, regardless of their ZIP code. If all public schools were providing optimal education for all children, there would not be a market for other educational options.

William Casey

October 31st, 2011
1:33 pm

I agree with RON that online schooling ight be a good choice for some kids. They would need to be chosen very carefully, though.

William Casey

October 31st, 2011
1:40 pm

@ DR. HENSON: I am interested in Provost Academy Georgia. Could you provide a link?

Charter Schools are PUBLIC Schools

October 31st, 2011
1:53 pm

@ teacher&mom 6:43 am

Apparently, Oakwood Digital Academy is not a charter school according to the Cobb Co. School District website:

Oakwood is listed under the Special Schools and Programs section instead:

Looks like the school faculty and some staff are CCSD employees? If so, that would be similar to a conversion charter school set-up (i.e. the school system hires all the employees and provides primary oversight of the school), but I wonder if the governing of the management company at Oakwood is handled differently.

Charter schools also must be approved by the state BOE in addition to the local BOE, so I’m guessing Oakwood just needed local BOE approval?

Economics Teacher

October 31st, 2011
2:00 pm

Here is a list of all of the programs that Oakwood uses:

Dr. Monica Henson

October 31st, 2011
2:15 pm

Curious One

October 31st, 2011
2:23 pm

Hello Math Teacher – you are absolutely correct – Another advanced degree that needs some serious attention or validation would be the “executive mba’s” – lots of the graduates could not pull a balance sheet or a profit and loss but yet take an “overview” accounting class ( what about those old T accounts ?), same for finance, economics, marketing and such. Most resume building full of nothing – now just think of the scores required for on the GRE to get into the education grad schools – yes they take the GRE but don’t have to score squat !! Same for MBA’s and schools advertise such.


October 31st, 2011
2:40 pm

@CharterSchools/Public Schools:

The charter school I am referring to in my post is not Oakwood Digital. The charter school where I was employed is accredited through the state BOE. But, even with full accreditation, the only branch of the military that will accept the graduates is the Army. Marines, Navy, and Air Force do not acknowledge the diploma from the school. If your child is enrolled in a computer-based curriculum and they are thinking about a career in the military, please take the time to make sure they will acknowledge the diploma.

I’m not diminishing the work at the charter school where I was employed. Everyone worked extremely hard to help the students.

William Casey

October 31st, 2011
4:08 pm

Thanks, Dr. Henson.


October 31st, 2011
7:55 pm

another math teacher: I was only commenting on the “program” used by our local alternative school (which “serves” 3 systems).


October 31st, 2011
8:52 pm

Not sure about this online Ombudsman academy, but I have some familiarity with the brick-and-mortar 3 hour per day Ombudsman programs.

The kids get pretty good grades, but the scores on the sub-minimal competency EOCTs aren’t so great. If they can’t pass those, are they really learning anything?

Ole Guy

October 31st, 2011
11:06 pm

These on-line courses are great…for the truly motivated. Though I’ve never taken a course via internet, those, with whom I’m well-associated, have demonstrated the beauty of this form of receiving an education. Using…wasting, really…this medium on those who cannot/will not/refuse to get with the program is the worse hoax which public education can play on these lazy _ ast _rds. Think of it for just one stinkin’ minute: In an era where a college diploma and/or trade certification is the MINIMUM credential for the opportunity of pursuing success, an on-line diploma for the (so-called) disaffected and disengaged…code for lazy SOBs who forfeited the ONE AND ONLY chance life affords us…will mean less than zero. Lets stop giving “Darwin’s heros” false hope, and in the process, waste limited public monies on lost causes. If they weren’t minimally motivated WHEN THEY HAD THE OPPORTUNITY, what’s going to change? This economy/any economy will always require the labor of the sub-educated, those who failed to grab the ball when they had the chance. Lets stop fighting Darwin’s Law; the mentally weak, stupid and lazy deserve NOTHING in the way of public monies above and beyond that which their contemporaries required.

The education camp (as with just about every public organization) is constantly whining over funding issues. If we concentrated on providing adequate funding for truly deserving endeavors, we just might see some real accomplishments; some truly successful programs. Instead, we seem to insist on celebrating mediocrity; sub-mediocrity. Lets howbout we stop trying to pump life into DEAD WOOD.

Ole Guy

October 31st, 2011
11:30 pm

No no no, Dr Henson, on-line learning for high school students (typically imature hs students) is NOT a lifesaver…this is no more a “lifesaver” than handing the kid a sleeping ratlesnake and saying, “now you can learn all about reptiles”. Technology in the hands of the mature, MOTIVATED learner is one thing to be fostered. Technology in the hands of the “disaffected” is nothing but a cruel hoax.

The authors write of “grade improvements” (high D to low C), and a 40% success rate. Following a graduation ceremony in which the “proud grad” probably can’t read his diploma, much less understand the significance of the (yet another) second chance which the system has granted, what jobs are out there for the grad to compete for? Do you honestly feel that…all things equal…the perspective employer is apt to favor the “disaffected” over the candidate with a demonstrated will to prevail? Lets get with it, Doc…lets howbout we stop rubing bellies, promoting artificial self esteem and false hopes. Life’s train only goes around once. Those who truly want that second chance can do so on their own volition, NOT on other peoples’ money.


November 1st, 2011
10:14 am

I would guess this “works” for a short time, till the student finds out that it requires work and attendance, concentration, dilligence, and reading skills. Then, not so much. Just marking time.

Dr. Monica Henson

November 1st, 2011
9:33 pm

@ Ole Guy: there is a relatively small, defined population, for which online high school coursework is very appropriate. I don’t recommend a pure online diploma program for most students, and I agree with you that the “typical” high schooler is not mature enough to matriculate in that type of environment. Nevertheless, I continue to advocate for this choice, because it can help some students in ways that traditional brick and mortar education cannot.

Ole Guy

November 2nd, 2011
1:39 am

Thanks for your reply, Doc, While I appreciate your point of view, I find it extremely difficult to understand the wisdom of:

1) commiting, what I am quite sure, is a rather large and certainly disproportionate amount of resource (limited and expensive resource, at that) for the benefit of a relatively few. From the day the kid walks into the 1st grade classroom to high school graduation, the public has commited, on average, X amount of monies so that the kid might, someday, become a viable contributor to society, Is it reasonable to expect an ROI/Return On Investment for the additional expenditures for the benefit of the “disaffected and disengagede”?

2) Lifes a merrygoround on which we only go once…all of life’s “firsts” cannot be repeated. After the ride, we’ve got to get the hell off so that others might realize the challenges and enjoy the victories. In realizing that this SPECIAL PROGRAM exists…JUST FOR THEM…the disaffected and disengaged come to expect yet another of the endless “SECOND CHANCES” to which they have become accostomed. THERE ARE FEW/VERY FEW SECOND CHANCES IN LIFE. As well-intentioned as this program may be, it still remains nothing but a cruel hoax upon those who THINK they warrant the second chances simply because THEY are THEY, when, in hard fact, THEY are going to have to expect treatment…no better/no worse…JUST LIKE EVERYONE ELSE.

As with many bold experiments in life, many prove to be well-founded and well-worth the costs. I simply do not feel this is one of them. With all respect, Doc, I feel this program is fueled by good thoughts and false expectations.