The Next Frontier in Public Education: Cyber Charter Schools

The Next Frontier in Public Education: Cyber Charter Schools

Belinda M. Cambre (University of New Orleans, USA)
Copyright: © 2014 |Pages: 15
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-4666-4502-8.ch098
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Abstract

Publicly funded alternatives to traditional public schools have taken place in the form of charter schools and, most recently, cyber charter schools. Cyber charter schools are fully online K-12 public schools and they “look” like traditional schools since students learn traditional subjects and are still subject to the same public accountability measures as their traditional brick and mortar counterparts. This chapter examines cyber charter schools in practice and summarizes the most controversial issues surrounding this form of school choice. Issues such as the legality of cyber charters under state charter laws; the allocation of per pupil funding; the use of for-profit companies in school management; ensuring access to cyber charters; and fulfilling state mandates top the list of salient issues with respect to cyber charter schools.
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Background

Use of Computers and Technology in Schools

Computers have been a staple in the nation’s classrooms for decades as an assist to traditional instruction and to meet the needs of students with learning disabilities (Pulliam & Van Patten, 2007; Snyder & Dillow, 2010). As internet access has increased, school districts and states created online opportunities for students to take additional courses and supplement their instruction. To date, nearly 100% of public schools have internet access with nearly 94% of instructional rooms currently outfitted with computers (Snyder & Dillow, 2010).

Distance education is nothing new to schooling, nor is distance education utilized solely by a particular age group. Correspondence courses have allowed those unable to attend traditional school to gain skills or take classes. During the past decade, the number of students taking online courses has increased. Marsh, Carr-Chellman and Sockman (2009) report enrollment in distance education programs will rise annually by 20%, and is currently nearing one million participants. By fall 2005, Rovai, Ponton, and Baker (2008) report an estimated 3.2 million college students took at least one online course, representing an increase of nearly one million students from the previous year.

The benefits of online learning are great. Communication is enhanced between students and teachers; different learning styles are more easily accommodated; assessment is frequent; and, access to curriculum and instruction is unlimited and flexible (Hassel & Terrell, 2004).

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