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Vast majority at seven hearings opposed online ed requirement as written

Idaho state Board of Education subcommittee on online learning meets on Thursday morning. (Betsy Russell)
Idaho state Board of Education subcommittee on online learning meets on Thursday morning. (Betsy Russell)

The subcommittee of the Idaho State Board of Education working on the online course requirement for high school graduation is meeting this morning by videoconference, with a couple of members at the state Department of Education in Boise and the rest linked in from Coeur d'Alene, Moscow and elsewhere. First up was a review of the public input received at seven public hearings around the state. About 100 people showed up, 46 testified, and 30 submitted written comments. Of the 46 who testified, only eight supported the rule as written. All the rest opposed the rule, which requires two online classes including one that's asynchronous, wanted it changed or had concerns about how it would work. Of the 30 written comments, all opposed the rule as written, raising concerns about parent choice, impact on disadvantaged students, infrastructure and more.

The subcommittee members, who include two Board of Ed members, some high school teachers and principals, a Meridian school board member and several others, are discussing changes to the proposed rule to do away with a provision preventing the teacher from being in the classroom with students during instructional periods, for the asynchronous course. SB 1184 bans the teacher from being there a majority of the time; the rule as written would prevent the teacher from being there at all during class, even for an occasional visit to the students.

State Department of Education official Jason Hancock said he saw no need for school districts to provide a teacher to be with students who are choosing to take a class from some outside, online provider. "You provide a proctor to make sure the kids aren't bouncing off the walls," he said.

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Betsy Z. Russell
Betsy Z. Russell joined The Spokesman-Review in 1991. She currently is a reporter in the Boise Bureau covering Idaho state government and politics, and other news from Idaho's state capital.

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