Taking a Chance on Innovation

Today, options have become a staple in nearly all aspects of life, so it’s really no surprise that educational options exist in the modern-day student’s life. But how did it get that way?

Well, it didn’t just happen overnight. Education policies and practices tend to change very slowly.

Twenty years ago, the idea of an alternative type of class that could be delivered online came to life. Florida Virtual School was created through a grant between two districts, a few innovative minds, legislative support, and A LOT of eyes watching it all unfold.

Success with the original 77 enrollments and 5 high school courses turned those watching eyes into parents wanting to sign their children up and that’s when they turned to Florida legislators to make it happen. What started with policies that would provide access to some students has since blossomed into policies that aim to open access to ALL students and it was fueled by parent and student-led advocacy.

In 2004, the legislature expanded FLVS to provide a full suite of middle school courses, along with the already existing high school courses. In 2006, they did the same thing for elementary. By 2008, the legislature was authorizing districts to provide virtual education and then requiring an online course as a graduation requirement in 2011. In 2017, the remaining restrictions in the FLVS statute on access were removed.

As a policy enthusiast, it is really cool to see the evolution and expansion of statutes that authorize FLVS and online education. What started as few lines of legislation found in one place has grown to many in multiple statutes. You have to wonder if the original writers of the first FLVS legislation ever pictured the growth and popularity of online education in Kindergarten through grade 12. Those writers were willing to take a chance on innovation and put education in uncharted territory.  Thank you!

Post by Holly Sagues, Former Executive Director of Governmental Affairs & Strategic Solutions

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