Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Virtual school committee bickers over makeup

Are online charter schools the heralds of a new era in public education, or a scam to fleece local school boards out of per-pupil money while promising students they can earn that high school diploma without taking off their jammies?

A Board of Elementary and Secondary Education committee might resolve that issue, but not before members stop bickering about the makeup of the committee.

As Advocate reporter Will Sentell writes here, some committee members are complaining that the panel is "too narrow and not what the board envisioned."

If these preliminaries are any indication, the real fight over virtual charter schools ought to be a humdinger.

The ultimate question is a serious one. Should we really encourage charter schools in which children from all over the state log onto their computers for classes, with no need to ever meet with other students?

And should local school boards be forced to turn over 100% of per-pupil funding for schools that exist only in cyberspace, and that don't require transportation, classrooms, libraries, gyms, athletic facilities or administrative offices?

It looks like there could be a big profit margin there for the operators of these virtual schools. The committee should stop bickering and start investigating.

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