By Bill Mattox, JMI Resident Fellow
The Leon County Public School System recently announced that it plans to open a new virtual school offering classes that county students might not be able to take at their base schools.  The Leon County Virtual School (LCVS) will bear a strong resemblance to the Florida Virtual School (FVS).  In fact, Leon will initially contract with FVS for many of its classes, but students will register through Leon County so that local school administrators can claim the state money that “follows the student.”  While the LCVS is yet another sign of online learning’s growing acceptance, the most interesting development in the world of virtual education may very well be The Khan Academy.The Khan Academy began as a series of ten-minute “You Tube” lessons that Salman Khan developed so that he could tutor his niece (who lives many miles away) in math and science.  A graduate of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and the Harvard Business School, Khan certainly knows his stuff.  And he apparently knows how to convey it to students.  In fact, soon after Khan began posting his tutorials for his niece on-line, people all over the world began discovering his lessons on You Tube.  Word spread, some investors got involved, and now Khan is devoting himself full-time to a task that began as an uncle’s goodwill gesture.  (He’s put together more than 1400 lessons, most of them in math and science.)Khan’s success is causing a stir in education circles, not just because he is reaching many students who once struggled in their classrooms, but also because Khan is threatening to steal the Golden Goose that has been laying the Education Establishment’s golden eggs.As one of Kahn’s donors told The Chronicle of Higher Education, “The next bubble to burst is higher education.  It’s too expensive for people—there’s no reason why parents should have to save up a hundred grand to send their kids to college. I like that there are alternative ways of thinking about teaching.”