Two for-profit companies vying to tap into public education funding streams and enroll thousands of North Carolina children into virtual charter schools will be in front of a state education committee tomorrow.
A special committee designated by the State Board of Education to review virtual charter school applications will meet from 10:30 a.m. to 1 p.m. Wednesday on the seventh floor of the state Education Building, 301 N. Wilmington Street in Raleigh. Audio of the meeting, which is open to the public, will also be steamed here.
The full State Board of Education, responding to the state legislature’s creation of a pilot program for virtual charter schools, will meet in January to decide if the online schools can enroll students – and receive public funding – for the 2015-16 school year.
Virtual charter schools teach students from kindergarten through high school through classes delivered through children’s home computers. Parents or guardians often serve as “learning coaches” to assist with lessons while teachers remotely monitor students’ attendance and performance.
North Carolina’s legislature opened the door for two virtual charter schools to open next August when it tucked a provision in this summer’s budget bill that created a four-year pilot program for two online-based charter schools to open by August 2015.
The country’s virtual education market happens to be dominated by two companies, K12, Inc. (NYSE:LRN) and Connections Academy, a subsidiary of Pearson, an educational publishing company also traded on Wall Street (NYSE: PSO). Both companies employed lobbyists in North Carolina last year.