As the year ends there is more news on the education front. An article by Ben Wolfgang in the Washington Times (12/15/2011, Record Numbers Fail to Clear No Child bar). At the outset of the article, Wolfgang notes, The numbers keep getting worse for the nations education system. In the 2010-11 academic year, the No Child Left Behind statutes standards were not met by 48% of public schools.

There is a great deal of debate even among conservative education scholars whether the NCLBs standards have become increasingly unrealistic. There is disagreement over whether NCLB should continue as a national guide. Whatever ones feelings about NCLB, it seems clear that many schools and students are not proficient in reading and math. Proponents note that the law require[s] states to publish test-score results in math and reading for each school in grades 3 through 8 and again in grade 10. Parents can see how their childrens school is doing, but see this article that argues the federal yardstick is defective.

The debate will continue next year as the NCLB law needs to be reauthorized by the Congress. That may not be possible in an election year. As with many other things much depends on the outcome of the presidential election.

One area in which there seems to be positive news is in virtual schooling. Virtual education refers to taking classes online using the internet as the teaching device. It seems completely obvious that online learning if packaged properly will revolutionize education. See the Khan Academy. A recent article notes the rapid growth in this new avenue for learning. I think it is a positive development for a market-based approach to make an appearance in schooling.

The New York Times published a lengthy incredibly negative article on virtual learning recently. Virtual learning probably has its difficulties, but it also strikes at the core of the modern public school power structures by giving parents more choices. Lindsey Burke at the Heritage Foundation has some good observations on this debate. One wonders if the Times is more worried about that than learning.