Sunday, December 9, 2012

Cyber School Waste

Pennsylvania auditors are waking up to the fact that cyber charter schools are spending millions of taxpayer dollars on advertising just to attract students to their inferior on-line courses. The auditors point out that such schools are receiving much too generous state funding. The same is true in Louisiana where our two virtual charters receive 90% of regular MFP funding.

It costs much less to operate cyber schools than brick and mortar schools because the provider avoids building construction, maintenance, guidance, food service, and most special education services. On top of that, many virtual schools have pupil teacher ratios of 150 to one and more. No wonder most states are finding that cyber schools provide extremely inferior education. In Louisiana, unspecified profits are diverted to the for-profit companies that provide content for the "dummy" non-profits approved by BESE.

One of the reasons for the millions spent on student recruitment is the huge turnover rate of cyber students. If traditional schools produced such terrible results and spent millions on advertising and gave out millions in bonuses to executives, the operators would be hauled before the legislative committees and publicly humiliated before being fired. But for some reason the privately run cyber operators remain at the public trough. Could it have something to do with the generous contributions to our politicians? 

Do any of my readers know if the teachers in the two virtual schools are being evaluated according to the Act 54 evaluation system? I just don't know the answer to this.

To anyone who wants to truly understand the disaster we face in public education caused by the corporate reformers, I recommend the linked interview here of Diane Ravitch by Tavis Smiley. It is 30 minutes long, but I promise you that every minute is worth listening to. Dr Ravitch's analysis represents the best hope we have of reversing this disastrous course our politicians have chosen.