Changing the Conversation in Education Law: Political Geography and Virtual Schooling

Journal of Law and Education, Vol. 41, 2012

FIVE MILES AWAY, A WORLD APART, James E. Ryan, ed., Oxford University Press, 2010

SAVING SCHOOLS: FROM HORACE MANN TO VIRTUAL LEARNING, Paul E. Peterson, ed., Harvard University Press, 2010

Fordham Law Legal Studies Research Paper No. 1973677

24 Pages Posted: 17 Dec 2011 Last revised: 11 Jul 2012

Aaron J. Saiger

Fordham University School of Law

Date Written: December 16, 2011

Abstract

In Five Miles Away, A World Apart (Oxford U. Press 2010), James E. Ryan concludes that the educational reforms of the hour, school accountability and school choice, will exacerbate rather than undermine the systematic educational advantages enjoyed by wealthier Americans. Paul Peterson, in his Saving Schools: From Horace Mann to Virtual Learning (Harvard U. Press 2010), argues that increasingly centralizing American schools have reached the point where, as a labor-intensive industry, few productivity gains are available from governance reform, even as demand escalates for the customization of education to individual needs.

Both volumes therefore pin their hopes for change upon political geography – the relationship between people and educational institutions to space. Ryan argues that changing demographic trends with respect to wealth and race create a window for taking advantage of interest convergence between whites and minorities and between rich and poor. Peterson concludes his volume with a fascinating chapter on virtual education, which untethers education from institutions like school districts that are based upon physical location. I suggest that online schooling also offers important, and unsettling, possibilities when analyzed in Ryan’s interest-convergence framework. This is true particularly because of the likely impact online education will have upon the religious-school sector.

Keywords: school choice, charter schools, religion, religious schools, virtual schools, online learning, IDEA

Suggested Citation

Saiger, Aaron J., Changing the Conversation in Education Law: Political Geography and Virtual Schooling (December 16, 2011). Journal of Law and Education, Vol. 41, 2012; SAVING SCHOOLS: FROM HORACE MANN TO VIRTUAL LEARNING, Paul E. Peterson, ed., Harvard University Press, 2010; Fordham Law Legal Studies Research Paper No. 1973677. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=1973677

Aaron J. Saiger (Contact Author)

Fordham University School of Law ( email )

140 West 62nd Street
New York, NY 10023
United States

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