Virtual School Meanderings

August 31, 2021

Virtual Schools Got Equal Pandemic Aid, Despite Little Disruption

A colleague of mine sent me this news item.

Virtual Schools Got Equal Pandemic Aid, Despite Little Disruption

By The Associated Press — August 27, 2021  6 min read

While many schools scrambled to shift to online classes last year, the nation’s virtual charter schools faced little disruption. For them, online learning was already the norm. Most have few physical classrooms, or none at all.

Yet when Congress sent $190 billion in pandemic aid to schools, virtual charters received just as much as any other school because the same formula applied to all schools, with more money going to those in high-poverty areas, an Associated Press investigation found.

“It’s scandalous that they’re getting that much money,” said Gordon Lafer, an economist at the University of Oregon and school board member in Eugene, Oregon. “There were all kinds of costs that were extraordinary because of COVID, but online schools didn’t have any of them.”

To continue reading, visit https://www.edweek.org/education/virtual-schools-got-equal-pandemic-aid-despite-little-disruption/2021/08

At the time he sent it, I commented to our group that this was an issue that continues to bug me.

If the whole idea behind public schooling is that we collect taxes for the public good and distribute those public dollars across the system so that everyone has a base value for their education, why is it that my child gets funded at a lower rate because I’ve made the decision to send them to an online school?  I mean we don’t look at two brick-and-mortar schools and say – School A can subsidize use of public transit, whereas School B must run its own bus system, so we should fund them differently!

At the same time, why should my public tax dollars be used to line the pockets of greedy executives and shareholders who see students as widgets and their corporate goal is to maximum profit per widget?
This is the problem you have when you allow corporations to directly or indirectly run schools.  As an academic, the second question is the bigger one for me because it is one that legislators could do something about – if they weren’t so spineless, ideologically entrenched, or beholden to their corporate masters.  But I do have some sympathy for the parent who finds themselves in the first position.

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