Recently proposed legislation has started a debate over funding for charter schools, particularly the funding for cyber charters. 21CCCS 10th grader Paige Y. recently wrote an opinion essay on the subject of cyber funding.
In 2009, more than $300 million tax dollars, which were taken away from local school districts, were given to cyber charter schools in Pennsylvania to pay for the education of 10,000 cyber students. Students of these “cyber charter schools that are really interested in making a profit”(Probing Question) attend at home for personal reasons such as bullying or wanting a flexible schedule. There are also rumors of inadequate courses for the children to take where, “…students read a section of a chapter, do a few problems from the book, and there will be some form of graded assessment. That is all.”(Cyber Schools Are Much Worse) Being a cyber schooled student I find all these rumors extremely unsettling and have decided to dig deeper and set the record straight.
It is a widely held belief that public schools are drained of their finances by cyber schools. In 2011, 1% of the PA local taxpayer money for education was given to cyber schools while the other 99% was for school district funding. When a student transfers to a cyber school, their tax money is transferred with them, allowing the Cyber School to function. Cyber schools use the tax money for curriculum, electronics, textbooks, and qualified teachers that benefit the student. Since the student is no longer attending the school district, it only makes sense they the school district should not be paid. Except, they are; the school district actually keeps some of the students tax money. Essentially, the district does not have to spend money on a student yet are being paid as if they were. Not only that, but in PA, and other states, cyber charter schools are a legal form of public school thus having the right to a students tax money to fund their education. After discovering these facts about Cyber School funding, I find it astounding public schools would accuse cyber schools of depleting their finances.
Another misunderstanding, about cyber schoolers themselves, is that they are social outcasts. While they are not social outcasts, many students attend cyber charter schools because of bullying. In fact, a quarter of parents who enroll their children in cyber schools do so because of a previous bullying experience and 94% said the online learning environment solved the issue. In some cases, students are just looking for a challenge while others need a more flexible schedule. According to Bart Shields, a recent graduate of 21st Century Cyber Charter School whom is studying to become a professional violinist, “21st Century offers freedom for me…I never really fit into a public school setting; I play the violin and needed more time to practice.”(21st Century Cyber Charter School) Cyber school students are often accused of being anti-social. Being social has much less to do with how many friends or acquaintances you have and is more about, “understanding how to behave appropriately in different situations and knowing how to interact with a wide variety of people.”(Homeschool vs. Public School) Cyber school students have many gatherings, such as co-op, to interact with other students and are often very active in their community. Defying the normal “teenager”, these students are able to have an easy conversation with people of all ages because they were not stuck with one age group for the whole of their schooling. It is obvious that cyber schooled students are no less socialized than students who attend a traditional school and might just be looking for a challenge.
Are cyber schools undermining a generation by providing inadequate education? Of course not; in fact their curriculum might be more advanced than other school district’s curriculum. At 21st Century, the majority of courses are written and taught by the teachers. This way, teachers know exactly what their student is learning and can explain the subject very precisely. Since a teacher does not have to teach classes all day long, there is often more one-on-one time between teachers and students. Students who take longer or complete assignments faster can work at their own pace in an asynchronous environment. As a result, students get a more individual education and learn more through the process of education.
Are cyber schools undermining the future of communities? No. While money may be taken away from school districts, it is simply because they do not teach that student any longer. A cyber school provides a safe place for students to learn and makes learning an individual and enriching experience. It is evident that cyber schools are very much a part of the public school system, contribute to a better school environment, and give an excellent education to those who choose this method of schooling. Cyber schools benefit local communities with intelligent individuals and an alternative for those who do not fit into public school.
Elder, Andy. “Do Cyber Charter Schools Help or Hurt the Educational System?”. Penn State News, 25 Feb. 2014. Web. 04 Mar. 2015.
“5 Big Facts.” Cyber Schools Save. Cyber Schools Save Them, 2013. Web. 04 Mar. 2015.
“Cyber Schools Are Much Worse Than You Think.” One Room Schoolhouse. One Room Schoolhouse, 17 Mar. 2013. Web. 04 Mar. 2015.
“21st Century Cyber Charter School.” 21st Century Cyber Charter School. 21st Century Cyber Charter School, 2014. Web. 04 Mar. 2015.
Ellen, Mary. “Homeschool vs. Public School: Who’s Better Socialized?” Off The Grid News. Off The Grid News, 14 Mar. 2012. Web. 04 Mar. 2015.
Klonoski, Brian. “More Kids Are Going to Online Schools to Avoid Bullies.” RYOT News. ROYT, 05 Dec. 2013. Web. 04 Mar. 2015.