Take Action To Stop The Expansion Of 'Cyber Schools' In Michigan And Beyond

The Michigan state House of Representatives is considering passing Senate Bill 619 to expand 'cyber schools' in the state, which would harm students and teachers and would create massive profits for American Legislative Exchange Council members

The Michigan state House of Representatives is considering passing Senate Bill 619 to expand 'cyber schools' in the state, which would harm students and teachers and would create massive profits for American Legislative Exchange Council members like K12, Inc. 'Cyber schools' are nothing more than online classes that are run in a for-profit style. SB619 would remove caps on enrollment in oline classes and remove requirements that students be enrolled in public schools at all. The law requires that the schools provide "quality education," but the language is so vague as to mean nothing. It is notable that cyber schools have been shown to not provide as good an education as physical schools:

The problem? Analyses of similar programs in other states have found deeply worrisome results in terms of effectiveness for students.

A study of a Pennsylvania program by Stanford University revealed that students in online schools performed significantly worse than their traditional counterparts.

A 2010 University of Colorado study found that only 30 percent of virtual schools run by for-profit organizations met the minimum progress standards outlined by No Child Left Behind, compared with 54.9 percent of physical schools.

According to The Nation: “A major review by the Education Department found that policy reforms embracing online courses “lack scientific evidence” of their effectiveness.”

Not to mention the fact that online learning doesn’t provide the social and community benefits to students of a real-life public school.

If cyber schools are so bad at educating students, why would the state pursue them? Money:

Not surprisingly, the push for cyber schools is being bankrolled by companies that will benefit the most from the profits that come with them. The biggest of these is a company called K-12, Inc. In 2011, K-12, Inc. made a whopping $522 million in profits — $336 per student.

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The effort to shift taxpayer money from public schools to private, for-profit cyber schools is being helped along by the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) which has a coordinated, 50-state strategy, offering templates for legislation/bills for what it calls “The Virtual Public Schools Act.” According to The Nation article, the department responsible for this work is headed up by an executive from Connections Learning, another for-profit company offering online learning.

If ALEC and friends have success with this type of legislation in Michigan, it will certainly boost their chances of success elsewhere.

Michigan residents can sign Working America's petition aimed at convincing Michigan state house members to vote against the bill.

The text of the petition:

Subject: Cyber Schools Don't Work

We are on the verge of making a big mistake—diverting our tax dollars away from public schools and into the hands of unaccountable, for-profit corporations. Under the proposed Senate Bill 619, Michigan would allow more so-called “cyber schools” to take over education from our neighborhood schools.

The fact is, these “cyber schools” don’t work—they don’t deliver a better education to kids and they don’t save the state money. The only real winners from shifting kids from neighborhood schools to “cyber schools” are the big-money corporations who profit from these online programs.

Let’s call this what it is: an attack on Michigan schools and our kids by out-of-state corporations. The only question is why are we letting it happen.

Please do not support so-called “cyber schools.”

About Kenneth Quinnell

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