A report released Tuesday by the liberal groupProgress Texas is adding another layer to the controversy over virtual schools, claiming that despite their popularity, the programs have failed Texas students and are run by businesses seeking profit.
“It’s a $24 billion industry with zero accountability,” Progress Texas executive director Matt Glazer said in a statement. “Virtual schools provide unregulated financial windfalls to a few insiders by shortchanging our children’s education.”
The Progress Texas findings come in response to a March report by the Texas Public Policy Foundation, a conservative Austin-based think tank that supported virtual schools. The TPPF report claimed that virtual schools save money and can reduce dropout rates because students who must drop out to work can take classes online whenever they have time. It said that virtual schools can also help students with special needs like dyslexia, attention deficit hyperactivity disorder and physical disabilities.
In 2004, the American Legislative Exchange Council, made up of businesses and nearly 2,000 legislators, created a bill that supported online learning in classrooms and virtual schools. The measure initiated a wave of virtual schools across the country. In 2007, Texas approved Senate Bill 1788, similar to the ALEC model, which created a state-operated virtual school network and supported integrating online learning in Texas classrooms. Tax dollars help fund virtual schools, but businesses run them.
One of the only full-time virtual schools in the state, Texas Virtual Academy, was ranked academically unacceptable by the Texas Education Agency in 2009 and 2011, yet enrollment in the academy increased 3,203 percent in those years — from 254 students to 8,136, according to the Progress Texas report.
About Holt Think: Ed, Creativity, Tech, Administration
Tim Holt shares his views on education, creativity, education administration, technology and the merger of all of them here. Whether it is links, articles, essays, or news, he shares a ton of information. He hopes you can keep up.
My new blog, about my quest for a PhD is located at http://callingdrholt.tumblr.com
All of these entries are the sole opinion of Tim Holt and do not reflect the opinions of his employers, friends, relatives, or anyone he happens to know in passing.
All entries here are copyright (cc) Creative Commons except where noted or obvious.