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Admiraling Support for Online Schools?

A former basketball player who starred at an elite academic institution in college is diving into virtual education. And it's not Arne Duncan.

David Robinson, a retired center who starred at the Naval Academy before going on to a Hall of Fame NBA career with the San Antonio Spurs, is unveiling his own virtual school, which will run in conjunction with the Carver Academy, a private elementary school Robinson founded in 2001 in the Texas city where he spent his entire playing career. Unlike his brick-and-mortar venture, the David Robinson Virtual Academy will offer courses to grades K-12.

The opening of the virtual school itself might not be news, but virtual school proponents would be smart to utilize Robinson's personal appeal, if they could, to speak out for online education. Robinson, as much as any player of the 1990s, was respected for his classy on-court and locker-room demeanor and his charitable efforts within his community. (The NBA's David Robinson Plaque is awarded monthly to honor current players' charitable works.) Add in a Navy background that flies in the face of the NBA stereotype and "The Admiral," as he used to be known, is capable of appealing to a vast swath of the population, including a more conservative element that might be skeptical of online schooling.

So what do you think? Could the virtual school movement use a spokesman like Robinson? Or should its educational value stand on its own?

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