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Claims do not stand up

June 22, 2012
The Daily News

EDITOR:Recently, our state representative, Ed McBroom, voted to approve a large expansion and removal of restrictions on for-profit cyber schools.

In 2010, the legislature agreed to approve limited cyber charter schools as an experiment.

They were to report on the results after two years. Lobbying efforts on behalf of these schools has been massive and skilled.

These are national schools which set up an office in Lansing so they can sound like they are Michigan schools.

Now, instead of even waiting for the report of results, the legislature has voted to remove the restrictions, and Governor Snyder has signed it into law.

There is a lot of money to be made in cyber schools.

For every child who enrolls in a cyber school, the cyber school owners receive the full state school allotment, even though they provide no buses, no teachers' aides, no special education, no lunches, no sports program, no music, no drama, and no rocket or robotics clubs.

These allotments are then pulled out of the local public school funding.

There are fewer limits on the numbers of students each teacher may accept, and there is no locally elected school board oversight, therefore no accountability to the taxpayers who provide the funding.

Now, I am fully aware that for some students, online schooling may provide an opportunity to learn in a setting that works when regular public school does not.

But for many young people, the lack of social interaction, the boredom of sitting alone in front of a computer every day, and even more important, no opportunity to develop a relationship with that one teacher who makes a difference often results in the child dropping out or going back to the public school in mid-year, leaving the public school to eat the cost of this student.

Cyber school ads would have us believe that they are superior to public schools, but in fact, the claims do not stand up to scrutiny.

In Pennsylvania, cyber school math test scores were 33 percent lower than public schools statewide.

The cyber program in Colorado resulted in a threefold increase of drop-outs, and when students left the program to return to the public schools, they were found to be further behind than when they left.

Is this good enough for our Michigan young people? Will it prepare them for future employment?

If you resent your taxes paying for teachers' pensions, how do you feel about your taxes going directly into the pockets of corporate CEOs? I am very disappointed in Rep. McBroom for his vote. As a teacher, he should have known better.

Lola Johnson




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