School Choice & Charters Letter to the Editor

Important Perspective Lacking from Virtual Charter Reporting

November 29, 2016 1 min read
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To the Editor:

The company I lead, Connections Education, is an accredited provider of virtual K-12 education solutions. We further online learning by supporting students and schools as we pursue innovation and best practices and demonstrate efficacy. We encourage and welcome conversations about how virtual schools serve students and how best to ensure and measure success. However, Education Week‘s recent special project on virtual schools does not reflect the existing value and future promise of virtual school options (“Rewarding Failure: An Education Week Investigation of the Cyber Charter Industry,” www.edweek.org, Nov. 3, 2016).

Each year, thousands of students and families choose virtual schools because they need and want a school option beyond the traditional classroom. These students choose to attend for myriad reasons: They might be struggling and need to catch up with a specific subject matter, they might have been bullied, or they might need the flexibility virtual schooling offers to pursue athletics. Or they might be ill and want school to be a place of certainty despite their physical limitations.

These family stories are vital to the broader discussion about virtual schooling.

We continue to be disappointed that their voices are so often absent from national media reporting, and that they were lacking in Education Week‘s series about virtual schools. In the entire package, there was scant mention of the families and children for whom virtual schooling works. Instead, it focused on controversies, including narrow performance metrics that are inaccurate measures of quality for schools that serve a highly mobile population of students.

I encourage reporters at Education Week and other news outlets writing about virtual schooling to visit one of the schools we support and to meet with families in their homes to see the school from their perspective.

People who experience this virtual education firsthand from the teachers’ and students’ perspective see the richness of the curriculum, the personalization, and how (and why) virtual schooling works for these families. This valuable insight offers a more balanced view of virtual schooling, a view we wish was reflected in Education Week‘s recent project.

Steven Guttentag

President and Co-founder

Connections Education

Columbia, Md.

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