New York University professor Diane Ravitch makes several bizarre claims in the Sept. 17 article "Education Expert: Tide Is Turning," the most absurd of which is calling cyber charter schools "scams." This would be news to Pennsylvania students like West Point Cadet Hannah Tuffy, Air Force 2nd Lt. Jake Swink and 2013 "Best & Brightest" award recipient Aviel Stein. What do these high-achieving students have in common? All are cyber school graduates.
In fact, more than 35,000 students are attending cyber school this year -- that's up from under 20,000 just five years ago. Families aren't being scammed into choosing cyber education over their local school districts -- they're doing so at an ever-growing rate because they've seen the results that flexibility and self-pacing have to offer.
The claim that in charter schools "some of the neediest students are excluded" is belied by the reality that one-third of cyber students come from districts that failed Adequate Yearly Progress standards and nearly half are economically disadvantaged. Cybers have taken on this challenge and have fast become a way out for thousands of kids in violent districts that show no signs of improvement.
Ms. Ravitch's advice would have us shutter the escape hatches in an often failing public education system and stifle innovation and opportunity in the process. Cybers and other charters make quality public education attainable for students, no matter their economic status. That's educational choice we should all agree on.
Policy Analyst and Communications Officer