Pockets of Success Roundtable #6: VT Notes

Gail Ross McBride - Collaborative in MA
Funded by school districts. Started a virtual high school - we serve 16 districts in MA. Starting within our collaborative.
1. Unions - how do you deal with union reps that resist - taking kids out of our schools. In some cases, we have to pay teachers more, and in other cases it is within their contract.
Jeff Renard - VT
- All it takes is to have one district to have in its agreement that it is ok to take on adjunct roles.
Some try to say " if the course is offered here, you can't offer it online.
John Newlin- ME
One way to respond is to say that the need might be flexibility in schedule or other factor.'
Need to work with Union organizations - what are their positions? How do you get them to support virtual ed and not see it as a threat to jobs?
Michael Ferry - RI
First elearning program in Rhode Island. President. Bought the content and ran it after school for credit recovery and followed the contract.
Had to prove that the kids were getting the same content and prove that it could work.
Need to demonstrate the success and show that noone loses - it is a win-win.
Jeff - VT
It is about perception and Culture building.
Last year we brought in Virtual High School - now we got pushback from AP. Until the kid that needed it because he was in band - then the parent pushed.
Took six years to get it to the point where we don't get pushback.
Jeff - VT
We start off with how can this help you? EG If a course is underenrolled, you can keep a teacher is he or she does it online..
It is about creating and saving jobs - not losing them.
John Newlin - Incremental school-by-school adoption might be the only model where people will understand that it does not lose jobs.
Michael - RI
New contract in place - I assume that it will be in the new contracts.
Stan Silverman - NY
NEA and AFT are actually pro virtual education.
New York state we brought together the unions and districts to talk about this. At the local level is where the rubber meets the road.
Jeff - VT
Need to create systems that support teachers.

2. Kids that have different types of special needs - they need to have access to this - how do we ensure that?

Jeff - VT
How do I create content that is accessible and enables accessibility. There is specific training and support that teachers need to create accessibility.
There are certail access issues - how to adapt content. Students home school is responsible.
Gail - MA
We had a student who is legally blind. Is it up to teachers to do this on their own?
Students with vision, hearing, etc. How to handle the IEP process.

3. Teacher learning and digital content
Roberta Tenney - NH
Let's keep it about kids. This transcends the issue of teacher unions. We have found that we have teachers that teach online and then they go back to their schools and then diffuse this work.
Michael Ferry - RI
We have a wide chasm of ability from new teachers who are looking for it and teachers who are still resisting email.
Stan Silverman NY -
The real dollars for publishers is still in books but we need to spend our monies on digital learning resources.
Traditional publishers still have a tremendous influence on content.