Virtual School Meanderings

March 21, 2012

More Investigative Reporting On Cyber Charter Schooling

I’m not sure if I should be bothered or relieved that journalists seem to be the only ones able to provide any kind of independent study of the cyber charter school industry – as there has been very little in the way of systematic, independent research (with the exception of legislative audits/reports in a handful of states).

Overworked and Underpaid? Teacher Staffing at Colorado Virtual Academy

By Grace Hood

Screencap of the Colorado Virtual Academy homepage (

Enrollment for kids of all ages is booming at Colorado’s 22 full-time multi-district online schools. This year, about $30 million in taxpayer money is expected to go to the largest, Colorado Virtual Academy. The school is free and promotes a more individualized approach to coursework and virtual interaction with Colorado teachers.

But with an estimated 77 cents of every taxpayer dollar the school receives going to its for-profit management company, some former teachers say they were unable live up to the school’s promises. The news comes as Colorado legislators are preparing to introduce a bill that would increase accountability for the quickly expanding online programs.

Student Overload?

Online schooling is an attractive option for parents and students because schedules are flexible and kids can work from home. It’s those same qualities that attracted Casey Longo to Colorado Virtual Academy. The middle school English teacher was there for five years until the spring of 2011 when her contract wasn’t renewed. She says she felt overwhelmed by crushing workloads the first semester of many school years, which made it nearly impossible to give individualized attention to kids having problems.

“What I really need to do is get them on the phone, open my computer, open their computer and walk them through it,” she says. “That would take an hour plus. You can’t do that with 250 students. You can’t.”

A five-month investigation by KUNC shows Longo wasn’t alone. Records confirm workloads for middle school English teachers as high as 240 students during the first semester of the 2010-2011 school year and equally large numbers for some high school instructors. Other former teachers speaking off the record reported similar challenges.

To continue reading, click here…


  1. Be thankful that someone else is paying attention and doing the grunt work to provide perspective.

    Comment by Brian Bridges — March 21, 2012 @ 10:56 am | Reply

    • Well, I suspect that some attention is better than no attention. However, I am a little concerned about the sensation nature of the media in general (not necessarily saying that it has occurred in any of these largely investigative reports). But the difference between the media and academic scholars is that they (i.e., the media) need to produce something that will sell their work, it doesn’t matter if anyone reads my work at all and that frees me to up take independent positions.

      Comment by mkbnl — March 21, 2012 @ 12:32 pm | Reply

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