Taxpayer Money Supporting For-Profit Virtual Charter Schools
The Sanford Herald reports on local school administrators who are concerned about public, taxpayer money being siphoned away from public schools to fund for-profit online charter schools. Some of these corporations have very poor track records in other states, performing much worse than traditional schools for student outcomes. From the article,
Among the problems Lee County Schools officials have with online, for-profit charter schools are the lack of student-teacher interaction and the cost to taxpayers and public schools.
With the statewide school board poised to decide next month whether to launch the state's first online charter schools run by companies, Lee County Schools Superintendent Dr. Andy Bryan is uncertain of how that decision will affect local students and educators.
"I am not sure what the true impact will be in Lee County," Bryan said. "However, a common theme echoed across my community meetings during the last year is that many students and parents prefer a face-to-face teacher instead of online instruction."
Bryan said the school system has actually scaled back online course offerings after obtaining feedback from parents that students prefer face-to-face instruction.
A committee appointed by the N.C. State Board of Education on Dec. 16 cleared applications by a pair of proposed charter schools that will hire online education giants K12 Inc. and Connections Education. State lawmakers last summer ordered a test involving two online charter schools, which could operate under fewer rules than other public schools.
The online schools could enroll more than 6,000 students and cost taxpayers $66 million a year by 2017.
Dr. Lynn Smith, chairman of the Lee County Board of Education, is wary of online charter schools run by companies.
"They don't have a particularly good track record," he said. "I understand that the state of Virginia has just discontinued its contract with online education. I know several other states have also done that. I would question why we would offer this to our children when the track record is already established."
Smith questioned whether online charter schools would be an efficient use of taxpayer money as well.
"The way I understand it, and the details are not all that clear at this point, is that if a child wanted to enroll in virtual education, the state would pay for that course of study," he said. "I don't know whether that would come out of local or state funds. But obviously it would come out of public education funds."