Cyber schools are the best option for many

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As a 2009 graduate of Commonwealth Connections Academy -- a cyber school in Pennsylvania -- I have been very worried about some recent developments that seem to treat students who choose cyber education as second-class citizens ("Virtual Indictment: How Pa. Regulates Charter Schools Is on Trial, Too," Aug. 27).

I'm all for increased accountability and transparency for cyber and other charter schools. But your editorial gets the facts wrong when it comes to cyber-school funding. While you claim that cyber schools get the "same funding" as school districts, they actually get about 20 percent less per student.

We would like to see reforms that strengthen charter school accountability. However, simply reducing the funding for cyber schools that already get one-fifth less won't provide greater accountability or prevent scandal -- it will simply harm students, like me, seeking the best education they can get.

I chose cyber school for the self-pacing and flexibility it offers, which allowed me to work ahead and learn more in less time than at a traditional school -- and eventually enter the Air Force as a second lieutenant. But there are other, more urgent reasons parents and students are choosing them.

Kids in violent and failing school districts, like some in Pittsburgh and Philadelphia, use cyber schools as an escape from circumstances they inherited simply by being born. Arbitrarily reducing funding will prevent disadvantaged kids like these from taking advantage of the opportunities I had in cyber school -- and that just isn't right.

JAKE SWINK
Research Fellow
Commonwealth Foundation
Harrisburg


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