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Sunday, November 13, 2005

Cybeschools Find a Home

Taken from NCSW@yahoogroups.com

CYBERSCHOOLS FIND A HOME

http://www.gazette.com/display.php?id=1312054

By CAROL McGRAW - THE GAZETTE

**snip**

Alex Shute is no riddle, but puzzle over this:

He attends a school in Branson, a tiny town near the New Mexico state line, but the 17-year-old Colorado Springs boy has never set foot in Branson.

He’s in a classroom of one, but he has plenty of company. His education costs thousands of dollars, but his parents don’t pay a dime. He’s schooled at home, but not home-schooled.

Shute is one of nearly 4,000 Colorado students — including about 700 in the Pikes Peak region — enrolled in cyberschools from kindergarten through 12th grade. He does his schoolwork through Branson School Online, which has 1,080 students from around the state, including about 110 from Colorado Springs. The town itself has a population of only 75.

The virtual schoolhouse brings in millions of dollars in state education funding to a rural district that might be struggling otherwise. Colorado taxpayers foot the bill for everything from home computers and books to the
salaries of online teachers who sometimes lead classes from hundreds of miles away.

Cyberschools are among the fastest-growing trends in education, with tens of thousands of children nationwide studying full time online from home. Twenty-two states have cyberschools; they’ve been especially popular in Colorado, Florida and California.

**snip**

Cyberschool students still account for less than 1 percent of Colorado’s 766,000 students, but some critics find their growing popularity worrisome.

They see online schools as a threat to traditional schools and an attempt to privatize education. There are complaints about such schools’ public accountability, state funding, course content, test scores, high turnover and the number of students repeating grade levels.

**snip**

Cyberschools have gone from a novelty a few years ago to virtual cash cows for some school districts.

State financing for cyberschools has increased twentyfold in the past five years. The state spent more than $20 million for 3,585 online students last year, compared with $1.1 million for 166 students in 2000, or an average of $5,600 a student, the Colorado Department of Education says.
Thoughts anyone...

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