Can technology fix what ails American education? Terry Moe and John Chubb think so, and they’ve outlined their ideas in a new book, Liberated Learning.

Here are some excerpts from a recent Wall Street Journal book review.

What can online learning do?

“They think that technology — particularly online education — holds two potentially dramatic benefits. One is simply a general improvement in education as students from “anywhere — poor inner cities, remote rural areas, even at home” gain access to high-caliber instruction. More important, the authors say, is technology’s ability to destroy the political barriers that prevent education reform.”

The Pennsylvania Cyber Charter School is an example of online learning in action:

“As for results, even though the school’s demographics are average or even below average, Cyber was rated as having made Adequate Yearly Progress (AYP) in No Child Left Behind, hitting all 21 educational targets. By contrast, barely half of Pennsylvania’s bricks-and-mortar schools received the AYP rating. On SAT tests, Cyber students scored 97 points higher than the state average.”

What do teacher unions think of the idea?

“Teachers unions, of course, are appalled. They know that “the new computer-based approaches to learning simply require far fewer teachers per student — perhaps half as many, and possibly fewer than that,” Messrs. Moe and Chubb write.”

Still, the authors hae high hopes for online schools:

“The authors also believe that, by allowing the door to be cracked open with online schools, the unions won’t be able to shut it. With the encouragement of students’ parents, millions of children will rush in, overcoming current union-imposed enrollment caps. Since labor costs keep rising, school districts, hard-pressed for funds, will naturally turn to technology as a way to get more for less.”

More for less? Bring it on.

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