Thursday, June 13, 2013
Last week I posted on legislative efforts to eliminate virtual charters in some states and asked whether the gig is up. My skepticism toward virtual charters still persists given the potential perverse incentives, but Aaron Saiger's scholarship (here) gives me pause. He suggests that virtual charters or virtual schooling in general might play an important integrative function. I hadn't thought fully through that possibility until read I today's story from edweek about large urban school districts creating their own virtual schools. The story indicates that the point of these virtual schools is not to help students exit the public school system but to bring those who have already left back into it. White flight in urban centers has long been a serious precipitant of school segregation.
The missing link in the current story of urban virtual schools is an explanation of how these students will be drawn back into physical public schools or online environments that offer the benefits of diversity. If they can, then they seem worthy of exploration. If they are just attempts to retain a bigger portion of state education funds by keeping more students on the books, it is hard to distinguish them from the state's virtual schools or virtual charters.