Wednesday, August 17, 2022

PA: The High Markup For Cyberschooling

Cyber charters are expensive as hell in Pennsylvania because we are stubbornly stuck with a system that pays the charter based on the cost-per-pupil of the sending school--not what it actually costs the cyber charter to serve that student. 

This has left Pennsylvania cybers swimming in money like Scrooge McDuck on a big golden bender. For instance, in just two years, the fourteen cyber charters of Pennsylvania spent $35 million dollars of taxpayer money just on marketing. Governor Wolf has been trying to reform the system, but there's a great deal of resistance (backed by a bunch of lobbying money, because cyber charters can afford that). 

During the pandemic, many schools set up their own version of cyber school, and that has created an opportunity to see just how huge the markup is for cyber chartering. Check out this excerpt from an op-ed written by the Kenneth Berlin, superintendent of Wattsburg Area School District:

When the pandemic started, our district contracted an online learning system from K12 Learning Solutions (Stride) to offer our students an online schooling option facilitated by our teachers. Because we use our teachers and equipment, the average cost per student to the district is about $3,000. I want to note that the K12 Learning Solutions platform we purchased is the exact same platform used by Insight PA Cyber Charter School. I also want to point out that if a regular education student enrolls in Insight PA Cyber Charter School, our taxpayers are billed a mandated $13,118 per student. For special education students, the cost rises to $23,587 per student. Given that we can provide the exact same cyber learning experience as the Insight PA Cyber Charter School for just $3,000 per student, I believe that the current cyber school funding scheme is an unjustified waste of taxpayers’ hard-earned money.

Cyber charters in Pennsylvania are insanely overpriced, and it's worth remembering that taxpayers take a double hit; not only do they foot the highly inflated bill for cyber school tuition, but they also get hit by tax increases as their local public school district tries to blunt the impact of cyber tuition.

And it should be noted that taxpayers don't get much bang for their bucks, with cyber charters being found--even by folks in the charter biz--to do a lousy job of educating students. 

Cyber charters do a lousy job at inflated prices, so very inflated that it's almost hard to believe that such a scam could be perpetuated for so long. May it be brought to an end some day soon. One more reason not to vote for Doug Mastriano for governor. 

No comments:

Post a Comment