- In a piece republished by Newsweek from The Conversation, Penn State University sociology professor David Baker and Ph.D. candidate Bryan Mann write on the state of the cyber charter school industry and what might happen to it in a Trump administration.
- Both President-elect Donald Trump’s education secretary pick, Betsy DeVos, and Vice President Mike Pence have a history of supporting school choice efforts, and Mann and Baker say the Trump administration should be careful about allowing the cyber charter model to expand.
- Their research and the research of others shows consistently poor academic outcomes in cyber charters, even when students are matched to demographic “twins” in traditional public schools, and questionable ethical practices like fraud plague the sector.
The cyber charter sector has come under particular attack in the education reform movement by those who dislike alternatives to the traditional public school system at all and by those who support other charter schools more generally. A recent in-depth investigation by Education Week of cyber charter schools nationwide examined the times they have been allowed to expand despite severe academic and management problems.
Cyber charters sprung up as a distance education option for young students. Many of these charters claim to serve students the traditional school system simply could not, and the leaders of these schools say low academic performance is to be expected given the population served. The virtual school in New Hampshire, however, has become a model. It only gets paid based on how many students pass their courses, which could be a key incentive for good performance going forward.