KEITH ZACK: Cyber charter schools are 'our' schools, too
In response to cyber school reform (Vicki Smith, March 15) :
Referring to traditional, brick-and-mortar public schools as “our” schools while ignoring alternatives demonstrates that there is no consideration to change or progress. You see, charter, private and cyber schools are “our” schools as well. Just because the traditional public schools get the lion’s share of enrollment does not make the alternatives any less deserving of our support. Just because they’re not the choice for everyone does not mean that they are not also part of “our” community.
If the educational companies are making a profit while operating at the same cost per student as the traditional schools that are struggling to break even, there must be a reason.
It is quite possible that these public cyber schools are pushing an inferior product with no positive advantages and making off with the profits at the taxpayers’ expense.
If this is the case, the traditional schools have nothing to fear as parents will not continue to send their children to a school that provides no positive advantages.
If, however, the cyber schools can provide positive experiences and advantages for some students, they should be provided the same funding per student as the brick-and-mortar schools.
Maybe they will use the profits to increase teacher salaries to attract better talent, or invest in the latest technology, or expansion and marketing campaigns.
The statement “What does the cyber school provide — a computer, an Internet connection and an online teacher. Maybe some field trips.” — seems condescending, but let’s compare it to the traditional schools. Do they provide computers to all students? No. Internet connection? No. Teachers? Yes, but support is limited while cyber schools provide 24/7 support. Field trips? The K-5 class field trips at Homer-Center have been canceled even with parents volunteering to pay 100 percent of the costs including insurance and parents accepting 100 percent of the organizing and logistics.
If you want to see cyber and charter schools dissolved, please consider outperforming them instead of petitioning the government for support.
The future does exist and it might be different from the past.