Today, the Texas Public Policy Foundation published the paper Virtual Education in Texas.

“The state of Texas has created limitations on virtual education that have led to unexpected consequences, which were exacerbated during the COVID-19 pandemic,” said Emily Sass, policy director for Texas Public Policy Foundation’s Next Generation Texas Campaign. “Because of the Legislature’s prior reluctance to allow districts to develop virtual education resources, districts and the Texas Education Agency have had to create emergency solutions under daunting timelines.

“There is no one ideal education delivery system. Virtual education will not, and should not, replace the role of teachers in student’s lives; rather, it should extend it. Nor should this modality be imposed upon students regardless of student or family preferences. Especially, but not only, in a time when safety is a concern for teachers, students, and their families, districts should be able to offer education in modalities that meet different student needs.”

Key Points:

  • From 2013 until spring of 2020, only 8 districts out of Texas’ approximately 1,200 were allowed to operate a full-time virtual program of study should they choose to.
  • Having a system in place to support a smooth transition to and from a virtual setting could improve a district’s instructional continuity – or the entire state’s – in times of disaster.
  • The COVID-19 pandemic has increased parents’, districts’, and teachers’ interest in taking advantage of virtual education.
  • Current regulations limit the availability and flexibility of virtual programs in Texas. Making changes in the areas would help expand both school district and student agency.
  • The state of Florida has one of the most robust virtual education networks in the country. Beginning in the 1990s, it has gradually incorporated virtual elements into its educational system.

To read the paper in full, please visit:

https://files.texaspolicy.com/uploads/2020/11/04145442/Sass-Griesinger-Virtual-Education-in-Texas.pdf