The74 by MATT BARNUM email@example.com matt_barnum December 1, 2016
Newsweek BY BRYAN MANN AND DAVID BAKER ON 12/4/16 AT 6:10 AM
Bryan Mann is a Ph.D. candidate, Pennsylvania State University, and David Baker is a professor of sociology, education, demography, Pennsylvania State University.
This article originally was published on The Conversation.
What President-elect Donald Trump and the Republican sweep of government will mean for K-12 education priorities over the next four years is not entirely clear yet. However, policy statements and administration selections so far indicate “school choice” will top the agenda.
Betsy DeVos, Trump’s nominee for education secretary, has been known to be an advocate of school choice initiatives: DeVos has supported voucher programs that allow families to use taxpayer money to enroll in private and religious schools. She also promoted charter school legislation that offers students choices outside of traditional public schools.
Vice President-elect Mike Pence also has a history as governor of Indiana of promoting school choice policy. Indiana not only is ranked as having the most favorable policy provisions for charter schools by a prominent charter schooling advocacy group, but it is among the 25 states employing a type of charter school unfamiliar to many folks across the United States: the cyber charter school. Unlike the usual charter school, the cyber version is typically delivered to students online wherever they may live, so long as they are residents of the state in which the cyber charter school operates. Cyber charter schools have been growing in states that have school choice policy. Our research, along with a body of academic work, suggests that the public should be concerned about an expansion of the cyber charter schooling model. Here’s why.
Cyber Charters: Widespread Reports of Trouble
Education Week November 3, 2016
A Colorado cyber charter school with a 19 percent graduation rate. An Ohio cyber that inflated student attendance by nearly 500 percent. A Pennsylvania cyber founder who siphoned off $8 million in public money, including $300,000 to buy himself an airplane. A Hawaii cyber founder who hired her nephew as the athletic director – for a school with no sports teams. As part of an eight-month investigation into the poor academic performance and financial mismanagement of full-time online charter schools, Education Week reviewed hundreds of news stories and dozens of state audits and reports dating back to the early 2000s.
Keystone State Education Coalition October 16, 2016
Source: PA Department of Education website; A score of 70 is considered passing
Total cyber charter tuition paid by PA taxpayers from 500 school districts for 2013, 2014 and 2015 was over $1.2 billion; $393.5 million, $398.8 million and $436.1 million respectively.
Not one of Pennsylvania’s cyber charters has achieved a passing SPP score of 70 in any of the four years that the SPP has been in effect.
Education Week November 2016
Benjamin Herold, Staff Writer
Arianna Prothero, Staff Writer
Maya Riser-Kositsky, Assistant Librarian
Holly Peele, Librarian
Alex Harwin, Research Analyst
Sumi Bannerjee, Web Designer
Nina Goldman, Web Producer
Laura Baker, Creative Director
Gina Tomko, Art Director
Lovey Cooper, Multimedia Intern
Holly Yettick, Director, Education Week Research Center
Charles Borst, Director of Photography
Kevin Bushweller, Assistant Managing Editor
Lesli A. Maxwell, Assistant Managing Editor
Kathleen Kennedy Manzo, Managing Editor
Gregory Chronister, Executive Editor
With growing evidence that the nation's cybercharter schools are plagued by serious academic and management problems, Education Week conducted a months-long investigation into what is happening in this niche sector of K-12 schooling. The result is a deep-dive account of what's wrong with cyber charters. Education Week uncovered exclusive data on how rarely students use the learning software at Colorado’s largest cybercharter, the questionable management practices in online charters, and how lobbying in scores of states helps keep the sector growing.