Wednesday, January 16, 2019

FL: The Unsurprising Teacher "Shortage"

The Florida Department of Education has released a report on teacher shortages in the state, for the 2019-2019 school year, and the news is not great.

The news is not just that there's a shortage (that's old news), but that Florida deals with the shortages by filling classrooms with teachers uncertified for the subject. The news is also in where the shortages are being felt.

It's not unusual to see shortages in the special education area, and science also turns up on the list of shortages. But Florida's shortage areas include English, math, and reading, in addition to some science areas.

It is a puzzler, but let's drill down on some of the data, because the report has some really nice charts.

The report measures shortages with three different data points, then maths them together for an overall ranking, but the three categories are interesting. First, we consider the percentage of courses taught by people not appropriately certified. In that category, English ranks at the top, followed by reading, followed by Exceptional Student Education (that's pretty much every kind of special ed). ESOL (ESL) comes  in fourth, followed by general science and then math. The English is surprising-- since when have English and Reading been hard spots to fill.

If we look at projected openings (as reported by districts) a different pattern emerges. The top category for expected vacancies is elementary education. Elementary education comes in dead last for classes being taught by an uncertified teacher, which suggests that Florida schools have an easy time finding elementary teachers and a hard time holding onto them. ESE is second, Pre-K is third, and then it's English, math and reading. ESE is not unusual, but Pre-K? It's almost as if there's a state policy that makes Pre-K employment too shaky and unpleasant to consider.

The third category ranks subject areas by the percentage of college teacher program photo-teachers who complete their programs. Our problem areas at least look a little better here.

The report looks at how many people hold certificates in various subject areas, with 96,000 Floridians (about 22% of the total credentials) holding elementary ed certificates. Math (18K) and English (20K)  are not widely-held certificates. And general science accounts for just over 6,000 certificates.

These charts show off some fun data. The next one breaks down the number of classes taught by sub sect. So, there are 35,181 English classes taught in the state, and 4,498 of them are taught by someone who is not certified. Perhaps the most alarming stat on this chart is that out of 64,812 ESE classes, 5,277 are taught by someone without proper certification. That's huge number of students with special needs not getting proper educational care.

Let's look at new(ish) completes-- the number of new teachers rolling out of the teacher pipeline. Well, rolled out, because the most current data is rom 2015-2016. There are some big zeros here, like drama and computer science and tech education and school social worker. Math, only 165 new teachers, which was still way better than the sciences. English, 207. Reading, 214. The grand total was 4,372, which seems like slim pickings for the entire state of Florida and barely enough to match the number of teachers that were needed last fall).

Finally, a chart breaking things down by F and D schools, as well as urban vs. rural. D and F schools have about 11% of their courses taught by people without appropriate certificates. Urban schools run around 8% and-- surprise-- rural schools are in the best shape, with only 5.4% of their courses taught by those not certified (that's still 1,650 courses, so not nothing).

The report strictly reports the data and does not attempt to explain it. Lots of folks have taken a shot at explaining the source of Florida's teacher woes, but it doesn't take a rocket scientist. Some shortages are national (public education will always be the low bidder for folks who can science), but Florida has taken extraordinary and steady efforts to chew up public education and spit out the pieces.  While there are some terrible states for education policy in the US, Florida's political leaders have made a good case for Florida being the worst. Teachers are devalued and disrespected. public schools are steadily and systematically stripped of resources and support. And the bureaucracy has built a giant wall of stupid between teachers and the goal of educating students. Florida is also fully committed to the Cult of Testing, and I have to wonder if it's not entirely coincidental that the two highly tested subjects-- math and English/reading-- are then areas of shortage.

One worries that a whole portion of Floridian leadership looks at this report and says, "Good!" Everything that makes the public schools look worse simply makes the shabby, fraudulent and inadequate charter industry of Florida just look better by comparison. For some of Florida's leaders, it's not bad public policy-- it's just good marketing.

But there it is in the annual report. The shortage is real. How will Florida respond? Well, they could come up with recruitment ideas. Or they could make it easier to become a "teacher" by "alternative" certification means. Or they could sit on their hands a do nothing. Or they could actually listen to the Free Market's wisdom, which says that if you want people to make your job, you have to make it more attractive with better pay and work conditions. I'm sure that the Governor DeSantis's new education team, loaded with privatization fans, will do the wise thing.

In the meantime, let's hope that other states are paying attention. Because Florida doesn't really have a teacher shortage. What they have is a slow-motion teacher walkout, with teachers waling out because they just can't take it any more. Only unlike the kinds of walkout we've seen in Los Angeles or Oklahoma, this one won't end any time soon, and the teachers who walked out will never be back.

Tuesday, January 15, 2019

Jeanne Allen on LAUSD: Fire Them All

The Center for Education Reform is a charter advocacy group whose most visible feature is Jeanne Allen, CEO and sometimes President of a board that includes pioneering privatize Chris Whittle. Allen loves charters and hates teachers unions. As you might guess, she has some thoughts about the LA teacher strike. After I wrote about the strike at, the Pinkston Group, a PR fit, shared some her thoughts with me. Let me just quote them in their entirety:

In a post-Janus world, teacher unions cannot exist and continue to gain members unless they demonstrate and prove their value. This strike, like others we're seeing around the country, is a desperate attempt by the union to maintain relevance in a day and age where they can
no longer require teachers to join.

California needs to break the district up into 100 different pieces, have much smaller units, and allow for the freedom, flexibility, access and innovation that’s happening in charters. If it weren’t for charter schools, education in L.A. would be at the level of Mississippi. The UTLA sees charters
as such a threat to the status quo that it is willing want to hurt students kids even more to score a victory against charters.

My advice to the district: Hold strong. Replace them all. If they want a dramatic impact on education, fire the union and begin to repair the schools, just like Reagan fired the air traffic controllers.

Allen's dream of a perfect union meeting
So that's what a leading charter advocate thinks about the strike. It's a union trick to hold onto power. Los Angeles would have terrible schools if not for the awesome charters. Teachers just want to hurt students so they can keep raking in the big bucks. There are, of course, no slices of evidence in the real world to back up any of this. Nor will turning LAUSD into hundreds of tiny districts serve anyone except the children of the wealthy.

But Allen's big solution is super dopey-- fire them all. The Reagan nod is not completely out of left field; Allen's website notes proudly that she was "the youngest political appointee to serve at the pleasure of the president, Ronald Reagan, at the US Department of Education." But of the many anti-reality arguments I have seen from Allen, this is one drops the jaw the furthest. Replace over 25,000 teachers? In a state with a persistent teacher shortage? In the 2016-2017 year, there were under 24,000 students enrolled in teaching preparation programs in the state.

Talk about hurting kids just to score a victory-- Allen's nuclear option would trash everything just to teach those damned teachers a lesson.

Allen's position is worth noting only because she and the CER are not some fringe element. She gets to sit on reformy panels. CER gets Gates money (and in 2016 the organization took in a whopping $ million in contributions from... somewhere). She gets into the Wall Street Journal. And lest you think she's strictly a GOP phenomenon, Kara Kerwin, who filled the president role while Allen was on hiatus, started out in public policy in the offices of Chuck Schumer and Daniel Moynihan.

Allen and the CER have one virtue-- where other charter advocates may play a game of making nice with teachers and their unions, Allen leaves her mask off most days. If you wonder why teachers and their unions sometimes act vas if charter advocates are out to get them, and you're one of those folks asking "Where does that come from," well, Jeanne "Fire Them All" Allen is Exhibit A.

This is not a one-off. Allen was quick to decide Trump was okee-dokee after all and became a Trump-DeVos cheerleader. Allen has periodically issued announcements of renewed commitment to privatization. Allen put a $100K bounty on John Oliver's head for besmirching the charter brand. Allen whinged when her phrase "backpack full of cash" became a movie title. Allen blamed the GOP 2018 drubbing on a failure to keep a charter hard line.

One can only hope that nobody on the administration side of the LAUSD strike is considering listening to Allen's advice. It would neither solve the strike nor improve general health of the LA school district. It's just a more extreme statement of the very distinct policies that brought them to this strike in the first place; wiping out the school district and the teachers who work in it is not a path that serves the students of Los Angeles.

Monday, January 14, 2019

SAT: New Frontiers In Pointlessness

David Coleman, he who single-handedly built the architecture of Common Core ELA in the image of his own (untrained) biases about how language should be taught, is taking a step back from some of his College Board duties. That news has been accompanied by further evidence that the SAT is increasingly pointless.

Like most of the CC architects, isn't stick around to make sure his baby was properly installed and put to use; instead, he moved to start cashing in, which in his case meant a lucrative gig at the College Board, the folks who bring us the SAT, PSAT and AP courses. He's been serving as both president and CEO of the company, but last week he stepped back from the president spot and the company installed Jeremy Singer in the post.

Singer is a fine fit. He's been the COO at College Board since 2013; before that he was with Kaplan, the test prep people. His career also includes a stint at McGraw-Hill, a school turnaround outfit, and a web-delivered solutions company. This after he started out in the business development biz, highlighted by a stay at McKinsey.

Digital baloney and business growth are his things, so it's not surprising that announcements of his rise focused on the "technological transformation" of the College Board. But some of the comments in this EdSurge article are not very inspirational.

Some probable goals: expanding the "partnership" with Khan Academy, simplifying the college application process, and "easing the financial burden" of applying to colleges. So, I don't know-- lowering their prices?

But then Singer also offers observations like this. Reflecting on his time with Kapplan, the test-prep giant:

His experiences had revealed how inaccessible commercial test prep was for low-income students, and it instilled in him the idea that “great test practice should be available to all students, not only those who could afford it,” he says.

You know what would be really great for students? A test that measures something other than how much test prep you did to take the test. Singer was the one who Khanified the AP tests, and other CB officials think that's swell:

“The Khan Academy partnership really makes it possible for students to access high-quality learning that they didn’t have before,” says Kaine Osburn, chair of the finance committee for the College Board’s board of trustees and superintendent of Lake Zurich Community Unit School District 95 in Illinois. “The test prep market was inequitable, and now it’s equitable.”

Emphasis mine, because weren't students supposed to have access to the high-quality learning of an AP course, generally taught by teachers have been trained to teach AP courses? Are you telling me that students don't need to actually take an AP course-- just watch a bunch of Khan Academy videos? Are you telling me that a video provides more "high quality learning" than a live human teacher? Yes, videos can be useful for certain types of instruction, but if I stood in front of a class, delivered a lesson, and then, when students asked questions, I just delivered the exact same lesson again-- well, nobody would be hailing my high quality instruction.

Another big Singer goal is to "boldly reduce complexity," and he has a point in saying that the College Board has used lots of complicated little ideas that mostly just reduce transparency of the whole business. Singer reduce some of this. The stated goal is to make applying to college less scary and less complicated. Of course, a really good way to do that would be to apply to a college that didn't require SAT scores at all. But the College Board isn't that interested in making college application simpler.

The College Board is a business, not a public service organization, so many of these simplification ideas look suspiciously like market capture ideas. For instance, the College Board has been working with the Coalition for College Application (a collection of 140-ish colleges) to set up a system by which students can submit SAT scores and college applications through a single site. This helps cement what has always been SAT's greatest marketing tool-- the perception that taking the SAT is one of those things you have to do to go to college.

EdSurge noted that ACT has been expanding its reach through acquisitions. It's an interesting question to ask Singer, who arrived at McGraw-Hill because the publisher acquired a company he was running. His reply is that College Board prefers partnerships; he mentions AIR and Pearson, though he might also have mentioned the College Board's success in getting some states to use the SAT as their required Big Standardized Test. He also talks happily about how these days, they are happy to be competing with the Big Boys for tech department talent.

At no point in the article does he talk about working to make the SAT a more accurate and useful measure of student academic ability.

But that's the SAT-- a test that mostly measures student socio-economic background and, of course, how well the student has prepped for the SAT. It is one of the great testing tautologies in the US education scene. Meanwhile, the best measure of college readiness and predictor of college success remains a student's high school GPA.  I don't want to see the 1,700 people at the College Board hungry and out of work, but I still have to wonder why we're still bothering wit the SAT at all.

Sunday, January 13, 2019

ICYMI: Jazz In Church Edition (1/13)

Today was m day to visit my brother's church to play some jazz versions of old hymns. Fun times, but it ace for a full family day. Nevertheless, I have some reading for you from the week. Remember-- if you think it's a good one, share it and amplify the voice.

Charter Lobby Still Spending Money in Connecticut

Wendy Lecker lays out the ways in which the usual charter lobbyists are still plying their trade in Connecticut to garner as much influence as they can.

Challenging the Myths About Teachers

Love Long and Prosper is a new blog to us here at the Curmudgucation Institute, and this is a worthwhile post to serve as an introduction.

100 Arizona Charter Schools In. Danger Of Closing

No, that's not one of my usual typos-- about 100 charter schools in Arizona re in danger of going out of business because they've botched their financial management. Just mazing.

Whatever Happened to the Waiting for Superman Kids

Gary Rubinstein always asks the good questions. Like, whatever happened to the students who were used as the focus of Waiting for Superman, the classic public-school-trashing film.

Fables of School Reform

Audrey Watters is one of the great chroniclers of ed tech. Here is another great look at the long history of reformy baloney.

How To Teach Virtue? Start with a Charter School

Nancy Flanagan has been watching reformster Checker Finn clutch his very expensive pearls for years, and she has a few thoughts about his latest outburst.

When You Give a Teacher A Gun

Mitchell Robinson takes a look at a piece about arming teachers, and he has a few thoughts.

Public School Students Are Being Erased From TV,  Movies, and Other Media

Steven Singer has noticed something odd happening with school aged characters in pop culture. They've stopped going to public school.

South Carolina Hasn't Enforced Class Size Limits Since 2010. It's Starting To Show.   

South Carolina continues to cut educational corners while hoping that its underpaid teachers can somehow pick up the slack.

Saturday, January 12, 2019

Four Reasons Charters Are A Bad Fit For Rural Communities

For just a moment, I'm going to set aside the larger problems of charters and privatization nationally. Charter advocates and education reformers have recently turned their attention to rural communities. Last summer, Mike Petrilli (Fordham Institute) unleashed one of his wide-release op-eds to point out the "problem" of "charter deserts"--those markets where charter schools have made few inroads. Andy Smarick and Mike McShane just released an entire volume of essays about rural education, and at the 74, Arielle Dreher published a thoughtful piece about one of the tensions inherent in rural education--are schools supposed to educate students to revitalize the local community or to escape it?
There are fewer than 800 charter schools in the rural parts of this country, and some advocates of choice are anxious to open up that untapped market. But there are some reasons that charter schools are particularly bad fits for rural areas.

Rural Schools Are Part Of The Heart Of Their Communities

My children went to school in a tiny village where the two central institutions were the elementary school and the volunteer fire department. In rural and small town areas, grown adults still identify themselves by what high school they graduated from. Sporting events, school concerts, art displays--these are attended by all sorts of people who are not actual parents of the participants. Launching a charter school in this setting is about as welcome as having a guy move into the house next door and inviting your children to call him "Dad."

Rural Schools Run On Tight Budgets

One does not remove a few hundred thousand dollars from a rural school budget without really feeling it. Most rural districts are lean operations already, without fifteen jobs like Assistant Vice-Superintendent in charge of Paper that can be easily absorbed. Transportation may be a huge chunk of the budget, and there really isn't any way to tighten that particular belt. The minute a charter starts "redirecting" tax dollars away from a rural district, that district will feel the hurt.

Rural Communities Are Not Always Easily Entered By Outsiders

This is not to suggest that every rural community is straight out of Deliverance. But city folks often drastically underestimate how important it is to know the territory. Every small town can tell a story about some city big shot who rolled into town and thought he was going to institute sweeping changes, only to fall flat on his face.
In part, there is no mystery here. Someone who is a big-time operator in New York City would not imagine that he could just stroll into Chicago without first studying the lay of the land and getting connected to the right people. Why imagine that moving into a small town would be different. If anything, a small town is more difficult, because everybody knows everybody. True story: a sharp operator moved into our area as operator of the hotel in town and planned to make it the arts hub of the area. He planned to kick things off with a big festival featuring choirs from all four area high schools and to do that he called each director and told her that the other three were already on board. Those choir directors were neighbors and sang in the same church choir; his lies didn't help him get launched. Even when they are honest, outside operators have a hard time moving and shaking in rural areas.

Charter operators have a history of bypassing the local community they enter, of doing charters to the locals instead of with them. In cities where the power centers may be located far from the neighborhoods in question, that may be successful. In rural areas, it's less likely to succeed.

Rural Communities Are Limited Markets

Charters are launched with primary attention to business concerns, not educational ones. It is more appealing to launch your charter business in a city with a half a million potential customers than a rural area with five hundred potential customers. Rural areas offer little in the way of the attractive real estate deals that have powered some urban charters. Nor do rural areas have large numbers of wealthy backers willing to help finance a charter operation. If you are hoping, directly or indirectly, to make some money running your charter, there are riper markets to approach than rural ones. Even if you hope to do good, but want to be sure you have a solid financial basis, there are better places to launch than in a rural area.

When Do Rural Charters Make Good Sense

The small community of Tidioute, Pennsylvania, lost its public school due to budget cuts in the larger district of which they were a part. So to keep the heart of their community intact and their children's education local, they re-opened their local school as a charter school, operated and controlled by local folks.

It is the one approach to rural chartering that makes sense--a local school under local control created to meet a local need. That's a good charter.

Friday, January 11, 2019

Why The Reading Wars Will Never End

I made the mistake of tossing a comment into the middle of a twitter thread on Monday. Not a nice quiet subject like vaccinations or abortion or Trump's wall, but reading. As soon as it became apparent that thread would blow up and swallow my feed, I could have asked to be cut loose or just muted the participants, but I was curious. How much longer would this go on? The answer is that after five days, the argument is still flopping around like a beached herring.

The latest explosion in the ageless reading wars was sparked by Emily Hanford, who has been making the rounds with variations on an article asserting that science tells exactly how people learn to read and teachers should be doing more of that.

Will Hanford's piece, or some blistering response to it, finally settle the reading wars once and for all?

Of course not.

Teach phonics. Don't teach phonics. Whole language! Decoding is everything. Knowledge base is everything. On and on and on we go. It will never end.

The reading war will not go on eternally because Some People are obdurate dopes. I mean, Some People are obdurate dopes, but that's not the heart of the problem.

The heart of the problem is that we don't know how to tell what works. And that's because we don't have a method to "scientifically" measure how well someone reads.

Yes, we have tests. But testing and pedagogy of reading are mostly locked in a tautological embrace. I think decoding is The Thing, so I create a test that focuses on decoding, then implement classroom practices to improve decoding skills and voila-- I scientifically prove that my decoding-based pedagogy works. Mostly what we're busy proving is that particular sorts of practices prepare students for particular sorts of tests. Big whoop.

We get stuck because we don't know what Being A Good Reader really means. Chris can read a book about dinosaurs and tell you every important fact, idea, and theme after just one reading, but ten times through a book about sewing and Chris can't tell you the difference between a needle and a bobbin. Pat reads the sewing book and can't pass a test about it, but can operate a sewing machine far better than before reading the book. Sam can read short passages and answer comprehension questions, and so aces tests like the PARCC-- but Sam can't read an entire book and come away with anything except the broadest idea of what it included. Gnip and Gnop (I'm running out of gender neutral names) can both read the same article, but when they're done, Gnip understands exactly in detail what the article says, but doesn't realize it's bunk, while Gnop only about half gets what the author says, but can explain why it's all baloney. Blorgenthal reads car magazines daily, voraciously, with great understanding, but can't get through a single paragraph of their history textbook. I know a woman who keeps devouring books about Jewish theology and building a deeper and deeper understanding, but who could not finish a work of fiction if you paid her. And lots of folks can't make any sense out of poetry (including the vast number of people who misread "The Road Not Taken")

Now go ahead and rank all these people according to how well they read.

As with writing, we can mostly identify those who are on the mountaintop and those who are in the pits below, but on the mountain side, it all gets kind of fuzzy.

In writing, at least, we talk about purpose and audience. Doesn't purpose make a difference in reading? Does it make a difference if the purpose is artificial, like, say, reading in order to take a test or to satisfy a teacher? (And no, Common Core's artificial division of fiction and information doesn't really address these questions.)

We know a bunch of different problems that struggling readers can have, and we know solutions to some of those problems (though many wash up on the shores of The Student Has To Care Enough To Want To Do The Hard Thing). We know that past a certain point, readers get better by doing more reading.

And every actual classroom teacher knows that some combination of a wide variety of tools is necessary-- and different-- for every student. There is, in fact, science to (sort of) back them up. So the war can be over, right? Everyone can go home? If only.

The most important lesson of the reading wars is that when any one side wins, students lose. In schools where all decoding was dropped and students were left to touch and feel their way through texts, the students suffered. And we are, hopefully, just emerging from as period when the mechanic were ascendant, with their insistence that reading was comprised of free-floating "skills" that could be developed and applied completely separate from context and content knowledge. That has been bad for everyone.

People know what the answer is. A full tool kit, applied thoughtfully by a professional. When one side is winning, many kits are missing some of the tools. But to have the argument that the house must be built with only a hammer or only with nails is just foolish.

So why will the argument not die?

Well, partly because Some People are obdurate dopes. But also because we will always have a chorus of people saying, "Can that kid read? How well? Prove it." Reading, as much as anything in education, demands that we measure what cannot be measured. So we create ways to measure a text's "reading level," and it's mostly bunk. We crank out reading tests, and some are diagnostically useful, but as a means of precisely quantifying how well a student read-- bunk. Reading assessment brings us up against the biggest challenge in education-- how to make visible a process that goes on entirely inside the student's head. And every attempt to measure the process/skill/knowledge requires test manufacturers to simplify it, to take something with twelve dimensions and squeeze it down to two.

Every attempt to measure means a truncated understanding of what's going on, which in turn leads to a distortion of the relationships between the many tools, which in turn leads to the false sense that one tool is The Only True Tool. And the war breaks out anew.

The attempt to make the invisible visible accurately really requires a whole toolbox full of artificial activities to try to tease out what's going on in there, and those tools will always be imperfect. That's fine. I am not arguing that we just give up on the whole business and go home. Nor do I know how to design a test that would really absolutely measure reading or literacy in a way that would let us slap a nice clear number on it. I am imploring teachers, reading experts, policy wonks, reformsters, bureaucrats and politicians to remember the nature of how we generate the "data" and to stop mistaking it for a Great Objective Truth handed down from God. Stop imagining that any single test tells you how well a student or many students read. Let the reading wars rage on, but most of all, never let there be a winner.

Thursday, January 10, 2019

GA: Cyber Schools Failing Here, Too

In what could be news only to someone who has not been paying any attention to cyberschooling in the US, a report from Georgia's Department of Audits and Accounts found that the state's cyber schools "underperformed."

Mind you, I'll argue that the state's College and Career Ready Performance Index is a lousy way to measure the performance of schools. But those are the rules that reformsters want to play by, so that's the yardstick we're stuck with. And by that yardstick, Georgia's virtual schools are failing.\

This is not a shock. The CREDO study in 2015 found that cyber charters have an "overwhelming negative impact," with student falling a full year behind their regular classroom peers. This matches the anecdotal information one can capture from classroom teachers to whom many cyber-students return. The cyber situation has been so bad that the National Alliance for Public [sic] Charter Schools issued a report calling for cybers to shape the hell up. In Pennsylvania, a magical cyber school playground, not a single one of the states cyber charters has ever scored a "passing" grade on the state's evaluation. And Indiana is just now coming to grips with a cyber charter sector that is both failing and corrupt.

So Georgia is just one more guest at the failing cyber charter party.

While the audit's findings are bad, they aren't exactly news. In July of 2016, the Atlanta Journal Constitution ran a piece looking at the Georgia Cyber Academy, a huge cyber with over 14,000 students:

Georgia Cyber Academy students log onto online classes from home, where they talk to and message with teachers and classmates and do assignments in a way that will “individualize their education, maximizing their ability to succeed,” according to an advertisement. But results show that most of them lag state performance on everything from standardized test scores to graduation rates.

Ah, that individualized, personalized education. GCA started out catering to homeschooling parents in 2007 before becoming the state's largest school. The story notes that while some students succeed at the online academy ("You have to be the kind of student that enjoys having more responsibility. You have to be good at managing your time," says one student.) The graduation rate was 66%, and the turnover rate was huge-- one quarter of the student body "leaves" each year. Class sizes are large. Attendance is a problem.

And this is one I hadn't heard before, but it makes sense-- students can be disruptive in cyber school, "doodling on a PowerPoint slide projected to the whole class instead of demonstrating how to solve the math problem on it." However one cyber teacher notes that a disruptive student can be muted, which is... good?

Georgia Connections Academy also promises individualized education at a tuition-free online school, but the audit found it lacking as well. Online reviews of GCA are, for the most part, pretty brutal.

Cyber charters tend to lean on certain excuses. Their students are more mobile. Their students are already behind. Their students are disproportionately problem children. These may be valid depictions of their student body, but if so-- well, that's the gig then, and if they want to be in the business, their "individualized" programs should be able to work with those students.

I've always said that there are students for whom cyber charters are a good solution, particularly students with some particular special needs. But for the broader student population, cyber charters are an experiment that has run too long. There's no longer any mystery about cybers-- they do a lousy job of educating students. It's long past time to pull the plug on this failed chapter of "innovation."