Changing the Conversation in Education Law: Political Geography and Virtual Schooling
Aaron J. Saiger
Fordham University School of Law
December 16, 2011
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
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.
Number of Pages in PDF File: 24
Keywords: school choice, charter schools, religion, religious schools, virtual schools, online learning, IDEA
Date posted: December 17, 2011 ; Last revised: July 11, 2012