By Bill Mattox, JMI Resident Fellow
Florida legislators and education officials increasingly are being asked to consider virtual schooling as an option for dealing with a variety of problems – from overcrowding in some schools to limited course offerings in other schools.Nevertheless, virtual education continues to suffer from a perception in some circles that it is inevitably second-rate – that it can be “virtually” as good, but never quite the equal of conventional classroom schooling.As one who has taught some in the conventional classroom – and who loves live music and stage theatre – I have a great appreciation for in-person communication, for “incarnational” education.  At the same time, I’ve seen virtual technologies used in ways that no conventional classroom could rival – just as I’ve heard musical recordings and watched films that no stage performance could rival. Thus, rather than seeing one form of instruction as inherently superior to another, Florida leaders should recognize that conventional classrooms and virtual “classrooms” each have unique strengths that can and should be tapped.Let’s not deprive Florida students of “digitally-mastered educational iTunes” just because we dig “educational live music.”  In the 21st Century, a well-rounded education ought to include both.