Attacking Cyber Schools

AP story in on the attacks on Cyber School funding. There are several highly misleading statements.

The article asserts that the school boards association and the teachers’ union “don’t often see eye to eye.” In fact, the PSEA and the PSBA have been working together for decades—demanding more taxes to give school districts more money, opposing holding teachers and school districts to high standards, and opposing parental choice and any competition for the unionized district school monopoly—exactly why they have come together to attack cyber schools.

The article cites that “School boards have long have questioned whether the current charter school funding formula reflects the true cost of educating cyber school students, since the schools don’t need to pay for transportation or the cost of maintaining school buildings.”

But cyber schools get no funding for transportation and buildings—their funding isn’t a percent of school district funds, but what school districts spend, per pupil, on instruction and support services – not transportation, debt, construction, facility operations, etc. Not only do school district keeps that portion of their funding, but they get reimbursed from the state for students attending charter schools. They essential keep 50% of their per-pupil costs for each student they no longer have to educate.

The author also claims a proposed bill will limit “tuition” cyber schools can charge—but cyber schools cannot charge tuition. Cyber schools are, in fact, public schools; this bill would limit how much they can spend—and limit it to a fraction of what district schools currently spend.

For a more positive look at cyber schools, check out this guest op-ed in the Inquirer.