Cost to Expand Texas Virtual Schools is High

Tuesday, May 7, 2013

Legislative efforts to dramatically boost the number of Texas students taking online courses have been sidetracked by strong opposition from public education groups and a hefty price tag that stunned supporters.

The state’s virtual school network now serves only a fraction of high school students. Legislation pending before the Senate would add courses to attract thousands more and expand the network to private school and home-school students.

The measure also would broaden the list of virtual education providers, now limited to school districts, charter schools and colleges, to nonprofit entities and private companies. And it would require school districts to provide all students in grades three through 12 an opportunity to enroll in electronic courses.

“Technology has revolutionized society, yet our state education system does not benefit as much as it could from online learning,” said Sen. Glenn Hegar, R-Katy, who wrote the virtual education bill. “Every major university in Texas as well as driver’s license courses are online. But 99 percent of our students have no experience with online courses.”

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