Northville School Board Member: Cyber Schools Are Harmful to Michigan Students
"it would be irresponsible to allow a massive expansion of cyber schools in Michigan," Scott Craig writes.
The following Letter to the Editor was submitted by Northville school board member and Northville Democratic Club president Scott Craig.
The Michigan legislature is poised to pass SB-619, which will allow virtually unlimited expansion of cyber schools in the state. Before we hand over $7,000+ of our taxpayer’s hard earned money for every student who signs up for a cyber school, shouldn’t we examine the success and failure of cyber schools?
We can learn from the experiences of other states. Investigative reports from Colorado, Florida, and Pennsylvania and elsewhere raise serious concerns about the effectiveness of private for-profit companies, like K 12 Inc that are running cyber schools in Michigan. These findings are detailed in Education Week, October 5, 2011 (Test Scores Raise Questions About Colorado Virtual Schools), and in the New York Times, December 12, 2011 (Profits and Questions About On-Line School)
- Half of online students end up leaving within a year. When they do leave, they're often further behind academically than when they started. Online schools produce three times as many dropouts as they do graduates. One of every eight online students drops out of school permanently -- a rate four times the state average.
- Millions of dollars are going to virtual schools for students who no longer attend online classes.
- The churn of students in and out of online schools is putting pressure on brick-and-mortar public schools. Virtual school dropouts often try returning to local schools, which must try to educate them despite not receiving the foundation grant from the state.
- On-line virtual schools maintain high student-teacher ratio, ranging from 70 for elementary students to 270 for high school classes. Most students have little or no contact with their teacher. Typically, they may speak by phone once every other week.
- The CEO of the for-profit K-12 Inc. was paid $5 million of taxpayer monies last year, while teacher pay and benefits have been substantially reduced in our local public schools.
In light of these facts it would be irresponsible to allow a massive expansion of cyber schools in Michigan. This learning approach may have a place in a blended approach of the future 21st century, but the proper role and use of these virtual schools is far from worthy of a massive investment of precious education dollars at this time.
Urge our elected representatives to investigate more closely before handing over millions to private for-profit virtual schools.
Would you like to submit a Letter to the Editor? Email it to editor Nancy Kelsey at firstname.lastname@example.org.