School on the hill: New York State should launch a first-rate virtual school

Daily News Editorial Board, New York Daily News
·2 min read

As of the start of this week, all but 280,000 New York City public schoolchildren were doing their reading, writing, arithmetic and science entirely off-site. By the end of it, every last kid in the system had been sent home to learn full-time over the internet.

The significant setback presents an opportunity for New York to seize: reimagine what remote learning can look like by making exemplary lessons available to all, for free, online.

To be sure, tens of thousands of kids are bending over backward just to get online. The city’s DOE has yet to distribute 60,000 web-enabled devices to students in need. Even when they get them, their wireless data connections are worse than Wi-Fi, which is costly (and, in many homeless shelters, nonexistent).

Above and beyond those problems is the spotty quality of virtual instruction itself. Parents in the greatest need, whose kids were already likelier to rely on remote learning, often give it bad grades. Could that be because Mayor de Blasio and UFT President Michael Mulgrew threw together an unfeasible instructional plan?

All things being equal, distance learning is inferior to in-person learning. But all things are not equal, and there’s no reason a youngster stuck with a subpar virtual teacher or two or three shouldn’t be able to dial up a video from a world-class educator — in any subject, at any grade level — for free, courtesy of New York City or State. Or maybe even a live webchat.

It’s not just during pandemics that kids could be helped immensely by such a resource. Imagine relegating to the classroom dustbin of history the days of substitutes showing movies.


©2020 New York Daily News

Visit New York Daily News at

Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.