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Friday, December 30, 2005

Virtual Schooling in the News

Adding a level to the Google news alert that I have been using to date, this entry uses search based on the terms virtual and school and the terms cyber and school...

Grant to create virtual school
Nashville City Paper - Nashville, TN, USA

Tennessee is one of nine states targeted in a new $20 million virtual learning initiative launched by the BellSouth Foundation. The five-year program will support the creation of a virtual school to offer online classes statewide, as well as foster intense technology development in at least one disadvantaged community. The announcement coincided with Tennessee’s recent $3.4 million investment in the development of online K-12 classes through the state’s e4TN program. The Tennessee grants will enable online high school courses developed in conjunction with Hamilton County Schools, which since 2003 has led the state in e-learning, to be used on a pilot basis in seven other Tennessee school systems.

Going to cyber school
Pittsburgh Tribune-Review - Pittsburgh, PA, USA

Regarding the Trib's "State-funded cyber school draws concern: Some officials question discrepancies between funding and costs" (Dec. 18 and TribLIVE.com), reporter Craig Smith's statement that "state lawmakers are looking to revise a funding formula that allows the state's 12 cyber charter schools to pocket more money than their expenses" was misleading on several counts. First, cyber charter schools are all nonprofit public schools. Neither individuals nor schools may enrich themselves at taxpayer expense. Second, cyber charters must provide a computer and high-speed Internet connection for each student. Also, curriculum costs are more, as cybers offer texts and online curriculum.

Going to cyber school II
Pittsburgh Tribune-Review - Pittsburgh, PA, USA

The Trib's article can be viewed as an indictment against all public schools. Given that the cyber schools, as public charter schools, must use a state formula that in essence makes reimbursable education costs 80 percent of what the student's traditional public school would have paid on a per-child basis, then the public needs to know the reason why traditional public schools are spending between $6,700 (a figure in line with Norwin's budget of a couple years ago) and $19,000 per child. Let's have a public discussion about education costs and start with a requirement that all (cyber and traditional) publicly funded schools post detailed budgets on their school Web sites, as well as the options available to parents to educate their children.

Going to cyber school III
Pittsburgh Tribune-Review - Pittsburgh, PA, USA

I would urge taxpayers to consider several things. First, the idea of cyber schools is obviously working for many students or the enrollments would not be increasing at such a rapid rate. In light of this fact, it's no wonder the state and school districts are becoming alarmed. They're losing money that they could play around with. Second, every child has a right to learn in an environment conducive to his academic success, an environment free from drugs, disrespect, bullies and violence. Does your school district offer this?

Going to cyber school IV
Pittsburgh Tribune-Review - Pittsburgh, PA, USA

If state Rep. Jess Stairs (R-Acme) is interested in addressing the costs of public cyber schools, his first goal should be to fix Pennsylvania's home-schooling law. Pennsylvania has the most burdensome and redundant home-schooling law in the country, and many home-schoolers are enrolling in state-funded cyber schools to avoid those burdensome requirements. Public cyber schools are perceived as providing an education similar to home-schooling, but without the burdensome requirements of the home-schooling law. Instead of discouraging public cyber schools, we should make sure that Pennsylvania has an attractive home-schooling law. This would save everyone time and money.

Going to cyber school V
Pittsburgh Tribune-Review - Pittsburgh, PA, USA

Craig Smith made the statement that "parents of cyber schoolers do not pay tuition." Then he writes that the public school district "pays" for cyber school students with state and local tax money. The writer fails to make the connection that the parents of the cyber schooler actually do pay full tuition, just like any other public school parents. The district only "pays" because everyone is involuntarily assessed school taxes, whether they have students in the public schools or not. The reason for the cyber charter schools' rapid growth is a direct result of the failures of the public school system.

State-funded cyber school draws concern
Pittsburgh Tribune-Review - Pittsburgh, PA, USA

The rapid growth of the Pennsylvania Cyber Charter School has captured the attention of a lot of people, including state lawmakers who are looking to revise a funding formula that allows the state's 12 cyber charter schools to pocket more money than their expenses. The cyber school, based in Midland, Beaver County, expects $30 million in tuition revenue this year for 4,500 students in Pennsylvania and another 3,000 students in Ohio, New Mexico and Arizona, said Nick Trombetta, who serves dual roles as chief administrative officer of the cyber school and superintendent of the Midland Borough School District.

Cyber-class funding needs to be revisited
Carlisle Sentinel - Carlisle, PA, USA

The state Legislature is considering a change to the funding formula for cyber charter schools. Officials in the public school system have railed against this formula since it was implemented in 2000.The cyber charter schools are private organizations. Yet, parents don’t pay tuition. Instead, the school district in which a cyber school student lives pays the tuition with state and local tax money.

Law Banning Cyber Charter Schools May Be Harming Education in ...
The Heartland Institute - Chicago, IL, USA

A report released by the Tennessee Center for Policy Research on October 31 suggests the state's three-year-old charter school law, which expressly prohibits the authorization of cyber charters, may be preventing thousands of rural students from improving their education. "Cyber Charters in the Volunteer State: Education Options for Tennessee's Forgotten," by Shaka L.A. Mitchell, a scholar at the center, explains how utilizing technology to implement cyber charter schools could mean significant educational improvement opportunities for states with large rural populations. "I was really hoping to show that school choice is not just for kids who live in urban areas," Mitchell explained. "So often we get focused in on helping kids in the inner city, and we need to remember that school choice is an issue that impacts all children." [See all stories on this topic]

January 2006 School Reform News (PDF)
The Heartland Institute - Chicago, IL, USA

The January 2006 issue of School Reform News highlights cyber education: the federal e-rate program, online physical education programs and cyber charter schools. On page 1: a new Congressional committee report finds fraud, waste, and abuse in the federal E-rate program; school choice advocates in Florida push for new accountability measures; the Texas Supreme Court has ruled the state's school finance system unconstitutional; and rationing looms for the Milwaukee Parental Choice Program. [See all stories on this topic]

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