There is a new way for children to learn starting as early as Kindergarten. The state of North Carolina is looking at allowing online charter schools as a new approach for children to learn. The State Board of Education is voting today on a proposal to allow the special application. The charter schools would be virtual schools that want to receive taxpayer money as public charters.
Two companies have already expressed interest in enrolling students as early as the 2014 school year but local school systems worry that they’ll be sharing their allotment with the virtual schools; and rightfully so. If the statewide virtual schools are allowed, that would decrease the funding to the brick and mortar county schools as well as the brick and mortar charter schools that receive funding.
The loudest company looking to break into North Carolina is N.C. Learns, which is managed by K12; the nations largest for-profit online education company for educating kindergarten through 12th grade. N.C. Learns applied for a charter application last year but the application was refused so they appealed the decision to the Wake County Superior Courts and lost. Dozens of school boards stood in unity asking the courts not to allow the schools to open. Even though the parent company, K12, is a for-profit company, N.C. Learns is a non-profit. N.C. Learns is appealing the Superior Court ruling and has informed Department of Public Instruction it plans to reapply again this year.
K12 has had its share of critics in the past. Bill Harrison, the Chairman for the State Board of Education, is hesitant and critical of the company and the State of Florida Department of Education has launched an investigation into the company. Their biggest concern being that the teachers for the company are not certified.
A December 2011 New York Times article depicts K12 as a profit-hungry company that puts business before education, squeezes money out of public schools, promotes itself vigorously and without concern for the best interests of students, and lacks quality due to staggering student-to-teacher ratios.
The state board has many concerns regarding online education. One concern is the transparency of the company and another being the funding for those online schools. The way the current funding would work, the online schools would receive funding with the same formula that current charter schools use.
While the ability to learn via online education is not all that new; some have questioned how well children as young as five will be educated. There is a certain level of discipline needed to master online classes and children in elementary school typically cannot learn as well as if they were in a brick and mortar school setting.
For more information on the company K12, go here. A website for N.C. Learns cannot be found.
For more information on charter schools and their policies, go here.