From today's Philly Inquirer (emphasis by me):
Pennsylvania's cyber schools serve students from struggling and poor districts, and a disproportionate number of cyber students are low-income. Yet cyber schools meet 46 of the state's 50 academic criteria for Adequate Yearly Progress.HB 446, in particular, will defund cyber charter schools to the point that they'll be unable to meet the needs of their students.
This success with the hardest-to-educate students comes despite receiving only 73 percent of what school districts spend, on average, per pupil. So why are lawmakers trying to cut off funding for cyber schools instead of increasing funding?
Despite popularity among parents (enrollment grew from 1,848 in 2001 to almost 16,000 last year), cyber schools have come under increasing attack from school boards and some lawmakers. Legislation introduced by State Rep. Karen Beyer (R., Lehigh), House Bill 446, and Rep. Greg Vitali (D., Delaware), H.B. 1655, would limit cyber schools' independence and drastically reduce funding for students. This legislation is in response to critics contending that cyber schools are not accountable and take too much money from school districts.
Look at that last paragraph! If MORE students enroll in cyberschools, the local school districts will actually MAKE money! Think of the benefits to those students still enrolled in them!
Cyber schools use their resources more efficiently than traditional public schools, which spend an average of $11,485 per pupil. Cyber schools receive an average of $8,371 per pupil. Even ignoring construction and debt, cyber schools receive far less funding, spending only 80 percent of what school districts do on instruction and student services.
School districts clamoring about the losses of funding fail to mention that districts receive reimbursements from the state equal to 25 to 30 percent of what they spend for cyber students. Thus, school districts keep almost 50 percent of their per-pupil funding for a child they no longer have to educate. This helps school districts reduce class sizes and mitigate the need for new construction while resulting in an increase in per-pupil spending.
Furthermore, despite fallacious claims to the contrary, cyber schools complete every accountability and performance measure that district schools do, and more. Cyber schools also must renew their charters periodically, and underperforming schools can lose their charter to operate. ...Tell me: when was the last time a non-cyber charter school lost their 'license' to operate??
Cyber schools serve about 1,500 of the 180,000 students from Philadelphia. This is not surprising, considering that 169 of the district's 270 schools failed to meet AYP in the 2005-06 school year.Yes, freedom to choose! Why isn't this spirit embraced by our politicians??
The ultimate test for cyber schools is choice. If parents are not pleased with results, they can switch to another school. If public school officials are so concerned about providing a top-notch education for all students, they should levy their demands on themselves.
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