U.S. Court ruling threatens the future of computer-based virtual schools

1/16/08

I don't think this is going to affect how we run our school. We do NOT educate home-schooled children. All courses are taught by highly qualified, Wyoming licensed teachers. We only collect funding (ADM) for our full time students. We define full time students as those who are taking more than 60% of their courses from us.

If I remember correctly, the school in Wisconsin at the center of this firestorm is run my K12 Inc. Wyoming had it's own brush-in with K12Inc. I think they are still working with Campbell Co. School District #1 but there is some legislation that will be put before the legislature this year that will prevent this type of funding lawsuit.

So in short, we are in good shape. Whewwww...




U.S. Court ruling threatens the future of computer-based virtual schools
THE ASSOCIATED PRESS


CROSS PLAINS, Wisconsin - School districts across the United States are watching a court ruling that challenges the existence of virtual schools and could determine the future of online education.

The ruling is the first of its kind in the U.S. It placed the Wisconsin Virtual Academy at the centre of a national policy debate after critics raised a key question: Do virtual schools amount to little more than home schooling at taxpayer expense?

Virtual schools operate in 18 states, says the North American Council for Online Learning, a trade association.

More than 90,000 students from kindergarten through high school are enrolled in virtual schools nationwide.

Supporters say the schools are a big help for parents who prefer their children learn from home.

Opponents, including the largest U.S. teachers' union, insist the cyber charter schools drain money away from traditional schools.

"People are paying attention because online learning is really a growing phenomenon," said Susan Patrick, president of the North American Council for Online Learning.

"And for us to arbitrarily shut down online learning for students is a really dangerous precedent to set."

Virtual schools generally require parents to lead daily lessons. Licensed teachers monitor students' progress through e-mails, online classes and tutoring.

Last month, an appeals court ordered Wisconsin to stop funding the academy, ruling that parents were the primary educators - a violation of a state law requiring public school teachers to be licensed.

And, the panel said, districts that operate virtual schools cannot receive taxpayer money for students who don't attend classes within their boundaries.

The decision could shut down other Wisconsin virtual schools, which are used by 3,000 students.

Barbara Stein of the National Education Association, the teachers' union, says she objects to the use of tax dollars to support what she called a new form of home schooling.

"The issue is whether a program where you don't have licensed educators and where you don't have students working directly with other students should be getting fully funded as though it were a quality educational experience," she said.

Politicians from both political parties say they want to keep the virtual schools open, but they have been unable to agree on the details.

Republican state Representative Brett Davis said Wisconsin has the chance to become a national leader in online learning.

"The bottom line is it's time to modernize education laws in Wisconsin," Davis said. "We have these great virtual schools that are doing well. I think we've become a model for the country to look at."

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