Cyber schools currently spend significantly less per student than school districts and only represent about 1% of spending on public education. Discrepancies in cyber school funding are the result of problems in the overall system of public education finance. Reductions to cyber school funding fail to address these issues. Cyber schools ha
Education can and should be America's newest civil rights issue. Today, too many schools are failing too many children. The system is broken, and access to a quality education is largely the province of the wealthy, of those who can afford to opt out of failing government schools in favor of better optio
The Matunis girls are just two of some 32,000 students statewide who are thriving at cyber schools. New legislation unveiled in Harrisburg, however, could do serious damage to cyber schools, hampering their ability
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How will more than 35,000 cyber school students be affected by legislation pending in the state Senate this week? There’s both good and bad news on the horizon and your voice is critical.
The good: Senate Bill 1085 fixes the “pension double dip” for cyber schools in an equitable manner—an improvement on the bill passed by the House that cut funding more severely. SB 1085 would also institute necessary accountability and oversight measures, which would give cyber and charter schools more fiscal transparency. The bill would also allow universities to authorize new charter schools, lessening school districts' ability to squelch their own competition.
The bad: SB 1085 threatens an arbitrary 5 percent funding reduction for cyber schools. This “ready, fire, aim” approach cuts funding for cybers before a commissioned study on charter school funding has time to make a reasoned report.
What would school districts “save” from this arbitrary cut? Not much, a 5 percent cut to cybers would fund a mere 57 minutes of school district class time statewide. For cybers, though, it amounts to about one-third of teacher salaries, and could effectively shut the door on many families’ educational choices.
Why should cyber school students have to do with even less, especially when they already account for just one percent of state and local education spending? Cyber and charter schools already receive only about 80 percent of the per-student funding that traditional public schools get.
Tell the state Senate how you feel about keeping educational choice alive for tens of thousands of families across the state!
The Education Law Center has issued an attack on legislation to allow universities to approve new charter schools. In a single paragraph, a spokesman for the group makes makes three false claims in trying to demonize charter schools.
"School districts are, you know, they’re charged exactly with that under the law that their job is to ensure that all students receive a quality education," Lapp said. "When charters expand without any management, it concentrates those student groups more heavily in school districts and gives them less funding and less ability to adequately serve them."
Myth #1: The public school monopoly ensures that all students receive a quality education. According to the Nation's Report Card released last week, nearly 60 percent of Pennsylvania's 8th grade students did not make proficiency in reading or math.
The only real accountability in education occurs when parents can choose the best school for their children. Charter schools don't get a single dime in funding unless parents choose that particular school for their child.
Myth #2: Charter schools drain resources from school districts. Actually, charter schools only receive about 80 percent of the funding that school districts spend per student. Districts keep the remaining 20 percent for children they no longer have to educate—allowing them to spend more per student for those who remain.
Myth #3: Charter schools "cream" the best students. In fact, charters disproportionately serve low-income, minority students who were struggling in traditional schools.
Requiring charter schools to get permission from school districts to compete for students is like requiring Wendy's to get approval from McDonald's to open a new restaurant. Allowing alternative authorizers, like universities, for charter schools, eliminates the flawed mechanism that incentivizes school districts to fight against new educational options—keeping thousands of families on waiting lists for charter schools.
This is a reform nearly 70 percent of Pennsylvania voters support, and the time is ripe for lawmakers to make this positive change.
Cyber schools have been falsely maligned as impersonal and anti-social environments for learning, but the truth is far different. Case in point: Achievement House Cyber Charter School is bringing blended learning options to kids across the state—most recently in York.
Nikelle Snader at The York Dispatch highlighted a new Resource Center where local Achievement House students can drop in whenever they need a little extra help. The center is primarily designed to complement online classes and extend hands-on help and support to struggling students. But it will be used for even more.
The centers host parent meetings, medical screenings, face-to-face instruction, study sessions, and standardized testing. Special education and bilingual instructors also regularly visit to provide more specialized learning options for those who need it. Achievement House now offers 11 such centers across the state, including three in Philadelphia alone.
William Rodriquez, a senior at Achievement House, feels drawn to the familial environment of the Resource Center. “I don’t feel like something’s about to happen,” he said—a welcome change from his previous two schools.
Safety also motivated Stephen Frank to attend 21st Century Cyber School, where he flourished without the threat of physical bullying. This Saturday, as part of its “Kindness Matters” program, Agora Cyber Charter School is hosting an anti-bullying event in York, as well as similar events elsewhere in the state during the month of October.
Cyber schools have become a very real presence in the lives of more than 35,000 students and in their communities.
But Resource Centers require funds to operate, and major cuts recently passed by the House put Achievement House’s efforts in peril. Slashing funding for schools that already receive 20 percent less per student ignores the success stories of students like Jake Swink, who has spoken out against treating cyber school students as second-class citizens.
Click here to let the State Senate know that you oppose arbitrary cuts to cyber school funding.
A recent poll found that 87 percent of likely voters in Pennsylvania think parents should have the option to choose the type of public school that’s best for their children—do you?
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The Commonwealth Foundation is Pennsylvania's free-market think tank. The Commonwealth Foundation crafts free-market policies, convinces Pennsylvanians of their benefits, and counters attacks on liberty.
"They are going to take away your pension!" is a common scare tactic used by Pennsylvania government union leaders to oppose pension reform (even though private school unions have agreed to pension reform). Such a scenario is no longer fiction for workers in Detroit. Yesterday a federal bankruptcy ...