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Cyber charters’ appeal

According to the news story ” Mandatory cyber learning expands ” (Nov. 7 and TribLIVE.com), some school districts have finally decided to embrace online instruction as a viable alternative to the classroom. These districts are now subcontracting with intermediate units or unregulated outside providers to provide turnkey “virtual school” solutions to supply online programs.

These district programs are finally validating the efficacy of online instruction.

The problem that many districts face regarding online learning is that the vast majority are locked into a factory-style educational model, reinforced by union contracts with inflexible work rules developed about the same time that Henry Ford built the Model T. Adding online courses to this rigid instructional environment is like adding a GPS to a Model T — it’s still a Model T; it just never gets lost.

With programs driven more by cost containment rather than a strong commitment to virtual learning, districts are unwilling to devote the resources necessary to create a vibrant online learning environment.

Possibly, parents choose to send their children to cyber charter schools because they believe that these schools offer more than just online learning. Perhaps parents believe the public schools serve the special interests rather than their children’s interests.

Maybe the question should not be why are parents and students running to cyber charter schools, but why are they running away from their local public schools?

James P. Hoover

The writer is CEO of Pennsylvania Distance Learning Charter School (padistance.org).


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