Letter: The true costs of unchecked cyber charter growth
by thenotebook on May 29 2013 Posted in Commentary
by Rhonda Brownstein
Ben Herold's recent article "Rising cyber-charter costs fuel push for statewide reform" focused on the financial cost of cyber charters. In the article, much attention was given to responses from cyber-charter operators and supporters who emphasize catchy policy terms like "innovation," but wholly ignore the reality of student experiences in these programs.
Cyber schools failing our kids
Discussion of cyber education must focus on evidence of what has actually occurred in Pennsylvania as opposed to a theoretical discussion of the supposed benefits of this "innovative" movement. Our state has allowed unchecked cyber-charter growth, and the consequences have been grave. Cyber-charter school growth has further harmed funding-starved districts and incentivized unregulated District-run cyber programs. The Education Law Center of Pennsylvania is deeply troubled by the financial costs. But more devastating are the educational consequences of these programs. Students enrolled in Pennsylvania cyber-charter schools are not receiving a high-quality education.
Attorneys at ELC have heard from the families of many students attending cyber-charter schools. Here's what those families have reported: Students spending countless hours behind computer screens without any required human interaction; students with disabilities who are not receiving any appropriate academic instruction; and students who have been pushed into computer-based programs as a result of behavioral incidents.