Commentary: Cyber School Law Lacks Accountability

Judy Hartnett's picture
Thursday, June 21, 2012

School is out for summer, and in 2013, as many as 150,000 Michigan students may not go back. Their classes will be conducted online, and the quality of their education is likely to suffer for it.

Last month the governor signed Senate Bill 619 into law, giving for-profit cyber-school companies the full per-pupil allowance of about $7,000 per student for providing an undefined online curriculum. These companies offer no buildings, no buses, no meals, no athletics, no arts, no band and no accommodations for special needs — none of the things we rightfully expect from public schools. Taxpayer funds will instead line the pockets of out-of-state corporate special interests.

Michigan began experimenting with cyber schools in the fall of 2010, and there is little evidence to demonstrate that the pilot program warranted expansion. There is, however, evidence from other states that should give us pause. In Pennsylvania, cyber school test scores were 33 percent lower in math than traditional public schools statewide.

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