This came across my electronic desk a few days ago…
May 2013, Volume 57, Issue 4, pp 46-52
Virtually Forgotten: Special Education Students in Cyber Schools
Abstract -The area of online K-12 education is experiencing rapid growth, yet practice has greatly surpassed the research. This article looks to add to the field by examining special education students enrolled in the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania. There were over 2600 students in the state that were identified as special education students and enrolled in virtual schools in 2009 according to the Pennsylvania Department of Education. The population of special education students in cyber school mirrors the population of special education students in brick and mortar classrooms, thus it is important to understand the characteristics associated with special needs learners as current research and practices are not designed to serve this population. Understanding the characteristics of this group is fundamental for instructional design and educational practice to serve the needs of these diverse learners.
I recall this article back when it first came out, but it came across my radar screen the other day…
Local media outlets were first to examine virtual school from The Washington Post
The article was talking about all of the national media attention that the cyber charter schools were getting, but also referenced all of the local media outlets that “broke the story first.” The list of items that it reveals is interesting…
Since that article was published, you could add to the list:
And those are just some quick ones from my own blog that I have been able to dig up with about 5-8 minutes of searching. Wonder what other local gems I would found if I actually took the time?
I discovered from Diane Ravitch’s blog that Colin Woodward, author of the Special Report: The profit motive behind virtual schools in Maine has been awarded the George Polk Award. I had to look this up myself, but the George Polk Awards are given to honour excellence in print and broadcast journalism. I posted the article and accompanying infographic here:
The infographic is worth repeating here…
Click to enlarge
Last week I saw an article entitled Marketing and For-Profit Schools: Conflict of Interest? come across my electronic desk (through Twitter I think).
According to some accounts, for-profit colleges spend as much money on marketing as they do on instruction—sometimes more. Proponents of restrictions generally hope that the money saved on recruitment and marketing could be reinvested in school infrastructure, curriculum, programs, and instructors.
I don’t know if the figures hold true for for-profit corporations that operate in the K-12 environment, but I do know that cyber charter companies spend significant amounts of money on advertizing (while most supplemental statewides and district-based programs spend almost no money on advertizing).
Given that the educational management organizations (EMOs) that operate charter schools, both brick-and-mortar and cyber charter schools, often rely upon aggressive advertizing to increase enrollment numbers (which increases funding – i.e., profits – through an increase in Full-time equivalents [FTEs]). At the same time, traditional public schools spent nothing or almost nothing on advertizing. Is this a conflict of interest?
This is what happens when legislators open up the K-12 market to allow for-profit online learning companies to operate with little to no oversight.
This is the situation that many of the neo-liberal think tanks, advocacy groups, and professional associations have been arguing for in many states. They’ll say that they are against these kinds of actions – and I’m sure they don’t condone the theft of public funds. But the bottom line is the massive deregulation they call for and arguing that any real measures of oversight are needless impediments to the growth of online learning, in the end will lead to more and more situations like this one!