News

Virtual charter schools expected to get approval from NC this week

The State Board of Education will be making its final decision about whether to give a green light to two online-based charter schools that hope to open their (virtual) doors this fall.

It seems all but certain the state board will approve the schools, where students from kindergarten through high school work from home computers while being supervised by a “learning coach,” which usually is a parent. The schools are seeking to each serve up to 1,500 students statewide in the first year, which would send millions in state, local and federal education dollars to the schools.

K12 logoRepublican-led legislature slipped a provision into last summer’s budget bill mandating the creation of a four-year pilot program for two of the online-based charter schools.

Several public education groups, including the N.C. Association of Educators and N.C. School Boards Association, have expressed concerns about the schools, saying the charter schools will divert scarce public education dollars to hand off to for-profit companies while delivering a subpar education to students.

Proponents have said that North Carolina, which offers no full-time virtual education, needs to offer the public education choice for children that don’t do well in traditional schools, because of health issues, full extracurricular or athletic schedules, bullying or in need of remedial help or advanced learning.

Both of the publicly-traded companies behind the two schools now applying to open, K12, Inc. and Connections Academy (which is owned by education giant Pearson), has had teams of lobbyists at the N.C. General Assembly paid to push their cause.

The State Board of Education is slated to discuss the schools at 10:45 a.m. today, and vote on it tomorrow. You can listen to today’s discussion through an audio stream here.

The State Board is moving to putting in some safeguards, including requiring the companies behind the schools to pay for a suitable “learning coach” if a parent is unavailable or not performing his or her duties, and pay for computers or Internet access for low-income families.

Other states have experienced problems or expressed concerns about the for-profit vendors that have managed the schools, with low graduation rates (one Colorado school run by K12, Inc. had a graduation rate as low as 10 percent in 2010). A 2012 report from the National Education Policy Center (which has been critical of the charter schools) found that students who attended virtual schools performed worse academically then their peers in other public schools.

Much of the criticism has been lobbed at K12, Inc., and the company has said that its online curriculum is successful to students and families that are well-suited to the unique form of education, and that test scores tend to be low because the schools in other states attract low-performing students.

You can read some of our past coverage about the virtual schools here and here, and check back as we cover the state board’s decision.

N.C. Policy Watch reporters Lindsay Wagner and Sarah Ovaska will also be tweeting from the meeting, and you can follow their live updates at @LindsayWagnerNC and @SarahOvaska.

One Comment


  1. david esmay

    February 4, 2015 at 10:20 am

    It looks like the money K-12 used to buy Fletcher Hartsell was well spent.

Check Also

UNC Board of Governors face protest, chooses new board chair and interim president

It was a busy day at the final ...

Top Stories from NCPW

  • News
  • Commentary

Law "is clear" Rep. Holly Grange should have reported on businesses owned by her husband e [...]

More than two decades after a landmark state Supreme Court ruling, NC moves a step closer to assurin [...]

Last summer, Chemours sent contractors to the Cumberland County home of Katrina Rubiera and tested h [...]

Today is Martin Luther King Jr. Day, a national holiday to honor and celebrate the life of the civil [...]

If North Carolina Republicans are confounded by the notion that every last one of them disdains publ [...]

As we commemorated the 46th anniversary of the historic Supreme Court decision Roe v Wade last year, [...]

And just like that, another critical election year is upon us – maybe the most important election ye [...]

The post An apple for teacher. appeared first on NC Policy Watch. [...]