One has to wonder how public education in Florida will be transformed by decreasing enrollment and a shrinking state budget (Enrollment down 30,000 at Florida’s public schools). Some people are discussing doom and gloom scenarios while others argue the tough times will encourage us to find more efficient ways to educate our kids.
We probably can’t do much to change the economy, but we can work together to come up with innovative approaches to provide high quality education at a reasonable cost. Some of the latest approaches include on-line “virtual” schools, international models and back-to-basics options. In each model, the goal is to teach more job specific skills for less money.
In addition to changing the way we teach our children academic subjects, some experts suggest we should rethink how extra-curricular activities are organized and funded. In the January 4, 2009 News Herald article, What is in their wallets, Pat McCann talks about cuts to high school athletic programs. If we continue to run the programs with the same approach without large budgets, the quality will erode quickly. Some pundits suggest we can provide the same or more attractive options by allowing outside organizations to offer these services. In Europe, for example, professional sports organizations run youth teams. In the US, national and regional sports organizations could possibly fill this role.
The thought of different types of schools and extra curricular options is a bit unnerving. However, in the current economic environment, creativity and flexibility are important. If we want our kids to have the best options, we will all probably have to start thinking outside the box.