Virtual schools plan raises troubling questions

Lauren Williams's picture
Monday, August 25, 2014

The idea of virtual charter schools may be worth exploring. But the way North Carolina appears to be going about it holds little promise toward better public education in North Carolina.

Starting next year, local school systems could be forced to fork over up to $790 for each student enrolled in a virtual charter, a school conducted entirely online. Some of that money would go for instruction — although there would be far fewer teachers — but a lot of it could be siphoned off by a for-profit company operating the school.

The local funding is one concern about virtual charter schools: Although virtual schools obviously don’t require transportation funding or much in the way of building maintenance, they nonetheless receive a portion of that funding.

As troublesome as the concept may be, the General Assembly’s execution of it, ignoring recommendations from the state Board of Education, is even worse. Rep. Rick Glazier, a Democrat from Fayetteville, said those recommendations included more limits on the size of the schools and classes, more accountability, more transparency and limits on corporate influence.

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