Online Charter Schools

Many states have enacted legislation that allows secondary students to take some online classes in lieu of their regularly scheduled classes.  Of course, this is often disliked by school districts, who lose per-pupil funding, which goes to the online providers. In addition, this generation of students often has a hard time actually staying with these independent courses and often fail to complete them.

The same problem goes for online charter schools.

It’s one thing to get all excited, leave your brick-and-mortar school, and enroll in an online charter school, most of which are using curricula prepared by commercial companies, and which curricula are generally quite good. It’s another thing to log on every day and complete the day’s assignments. Taken one bite at a time, these assignments are doable, though doing a full high-school schedule, for example, may take the typical five or six hours you’d spend in a regular school, especially if you are not a quick reader. Because of the nature of online learning, you need to be able to read quite well and type pretty quickly. You need to be an able test-taker as well, since the assessments are largely quizzes and tests, though in many courses, you will write short essays as well. In some courses like art and PE, you’ll have offline assignments that you then submit online.

For those students with academically-agressive parents, those with committed homeschool parents, those with stay-at-home parents, this can work, if the students are also intellectually alive and personally committed. Online schooling works well for them, as well as for students who are performers of some kind, since they can travel and still do their work.

These days, sadly, there are not that many of these types of families. Students with stressful family situations, and that includes many of us, do less well, and students also often deliberately choose to work full-time and ignore their online work. These count as dropouts at the end of the day, and since online schools are still under scrutiny to see how they work, the dropouts trouble virtual school administrators, both personally and statistically.

It’s sort of a catch-phrase, that virtual courses are the future of education. In theory, what could be better? Students can take a huge spectrum of courses, far more varied than could be offered in any particular school. Still, in practice, maybe it’s not educational nirvana, not yet.


4 thoughts on “Online Charter Schools

  1. I do see great benefits to online charter schools, however i feel there are more negatives than positives. This is my opinion and who am I really, I am a executive assistant who is obtaining my masters in edu part time. I believe that besides learning with in the classroom being around your peers and other adults helps to shape our youths minds.

    The students are able to learn others opinions and even learn from one another. Group exercise and learning is something i feel strongly about. When students are learning within their own home they aren’t able to really feed off of anyone besides their guardians. Is this really enough growth for them? Will they obtain the right social skills? Social skills help us to become who we are. To hold conversations, and to be strong and hold our ground. I have a cousin, who is a brilliant young man. 4.0 gpa his entire life, and accepted into every college you could name. He was educated through an online charter school and it is sad to say but he lacks all social skills. Even though he is away at college, he comes home every weekend, since he feels he doesn’t fit in with them. On the few interviews he has gone on for internships, he does not know how to hold a conversation. He is perfect on paper, yet he lacks all skills to hold a conversation.

    So at the end of the day, i would love to know your opinion on online charter schools, and home schooling and if it affects how a student’s social skill develops.

    • Hello, yes, this is the consistent question about homeschooling over the years and now it applies to online education as well. I always like to say that the homeschool is only as healthy as the family (and one could say the same thing about brick-and-mortar schools as well). For students who remain isolated in a nuclear family, they could turn out just as the young man you describe. However, many families make an effort to involve their kids in orchestras, theater, playgroups, sports, and such community interactions. Many families make sure they interact with lots of different age groups, which can be a benefit over the peer-heavy experiences in brick-and-mortar schools. I think it can be a trade-off; some homeschoolers argue that interacting with many different age groups, out in a community, can also be socially excellent. Thanks for this good dialogue.

      • Yes, I completely agree with you. If you are going to home school your child or enroll them within an onlien charter school I feel out interactions are a must outside the home. This will ensure they child will be well rounded and experence things outside of their own family and comfort zone. I feel that students who attend the type “school enviroment” should even be involved in programs outside of their school to help show them varitations of what is out there.

  2. This is not the first time I am hearing about online charter schools. The first time i heard about it i thought it was absolutely crazy!! I do not think the quality of education is provided to a student via online learning. I believe it does a disservice to students. I for one am not a fan of online schooling. I feel as though I miss out and at times fall behind. Out of sight out of mind type concept. How early do think students can start being school through online charter schools??

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