Virtual Schooling Faces Pushback

Virtual charter schools — schools which provide education entirely or primarily on-line — are facing increasing challenges around the country.

Listen to this story and more on the April 11 edition of The Education Town Hall

K12 inc, the for-profit corporation offering the lion’s share of virtual schooling around the country, is seeking to operate in 18 school districts in Illinois, for example. But several districts have already voted to reject K12’s charter applications. (E.g., Geneva, Indian Prairie District and St. Charles.) Appeal can be made to the Illinois State Charter School Commission to overrule individual school districts. However, state level legislation, which would establish a 3-year moratorium on virtual schools, has recently been introduced as well. (More information: the Illinois moratorium bill and material from Illinois Policy Institute, in support of virtual schools.)

Pennsylvania rejected eight applications for virtual schools.

In Massachusetts, a new law requiring virtual schools to be overseen by the state, as are other charter schools, went into effect in January. The commonwealth’s only existing virtual school, the Greenfield School, in operation since 2010, has been serving 470 students in grades K through 8. It has chosen to close rather than transition to commonwealth oversight.

Meanwhile, Tennessee Governor Haslam is backing legislation to cap student enrollment at the Tennessee Virtual Academy, run by K12. The legislation would also link growth of any online school to its academic results. (See Education Week.)

Here in DC, the charter school board recently rejected the application of Flex Academy — a K12 managed blended learning school. A proposal from Pearson Education’s Nexus Academy, another blended model — including on-line and in-school learning — is under current consideration.

Virtual schools have been under fire as a result of research indicating lower graduation rates and other indications of poor outcomes for students.

— Virginia Spatz
for The Education Town Hall
April 11 edition on We Act Radio

Listen live on Thursdays at 11 a.m. (EDT) on
full recordings archived for later discussion and sharing
look for more information on The Education Town Hall’s blog,

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