TRENTON – While supporters of online education made the case today that the concept deserves more support, some of the lawmakers at the Joint Public Schools Committee hearing demurred at the idea of it being a replacement for brick-and-motor schools for some students.
Sen. Linda Greenstein, (D-14), Plainsboro, said she can see online schooling being helpful “for adult learning.” However, she said that when it comes to special education kids and younger students, “the more chance they’re going to need supervision.”
However, Assemblyman David Wolfe, (R-10), Brick, said it is “pitiful” more alternative education opportunities are not being examined.
Sen. Diane Allen, (R-7), Edgewater Park, who said she represents a “relatively poor district,” said something must be done for kids who are not self starters and whose parents are not engaged.
But Assemblyman Ralph Caputo, (D-28), Belleville, asked the online education supporters why there is so much resistance to the concept.
Susan Patrick, president of the International Association of K-12 Online Learning, said it had to with people not understanding the concept fully and pushback from the educator groups.
But Caputo forewarned the online education supporters that the idea needs local support before they expect the Legislature to mandate it.
“We will not be supportive of that unless districts say there’s a tremendous need,” he said. “These are the bureaucratic political things you have to surmount.”
Assemblyman Ruben Ramos, (D-33), Hoboken, a school teacher himself, also demurred at the online learning concept.
“Students aren’t widgets,” he said. “We still need human contact. I don’t want to see us go away from that.”