How hybrid schools are reshaping education

Editor’s note: This article from Kerry McDonald, senior education fellow at the Foundation for Economic Education, appeared recently on the foundation’s website.

They’re not exactly schools, but they’re not homeschools either. They have elements of structured curriculum and institutional learning, while offering maximum educational freedom and flexibility.

They provide a consistent, off-site community of teachers and learners, and prioritize abundant time at home with family. They are not cheap but they are also not exorbitant, with annual tuition costs typically half that of traditional private schools.

Hybrid schools are, in the words of Kennesaw State University Professor Eric Wearne, the “best of both worlds,” drawing out the top elements of both schooling and homeschooling while not being tied too tightly to either learning model. Wearne studies hybrid schools and is the director of the National Hybrid Schools Project, which seeks to better understand this educational approach and why it’s been gaining popularity in recent years.

Hybrid schools are as diverse as the people who launch them and the communities they serve. Some of these schools think of themselves as a group of homeschoolers that comes together in a physical building for formal learning several times a week, while other hybrid schools think of themselves as formal private schools that meet on a part-time basis.

The ability of these schools to emerge in varied and spontaneous ways to meet local learning needs, and to define their communities however they see fit, exemplifies the promise of free-market education solutions and the process of voluntary exchange.

The unique structure of hybrid schools makes it easier for entrepreneurial parents and educators to open one, and often enables them to avoid government regulation and oversight that can limit innovation and experimentation.

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