More Colorado Students and Parents Choosing the Cyberschool Option

Because of the fact that I communicate with you over the Internet, you’d probably guess I’m a big fan of online education. Well, I am. It doesn’t work for every kid, but it sure deserves to be treated fairly as another educational option. Cyberschools well may be the wave of the future, and it’s growing more popular with parents and students in Colorado all the time.

In today’s Rocky Mountain News, Nancy Mitchell sheds light on the rising trend of cyberschools:

Growth in the programs, which had spiked from 166 students in 2000 to 9,150 in 2006, eked up to 9,222 in 2007.

But in fall 2008, that number grew to 11,641 students – an enrollment that would rank it 19th among Colorado’s 178 school districts in size….

In return for greater accountability, the law provides more funding. Before, online schools were prohibited from receiving funding for students who had been home- schooled or were in private schools the year before they enrolled in virtual classes.

Way back in 2001, before I was born, Education Policy Center director Pam Benigno wrote a paper calling on Colorado to “stop the discrimination” in public online K-12 education – discrimination against students who weren’t previously enrolled in a public school.

In 2002 then-Rep. Kelley Daniel, D- Golden, unsuccessfully carried a bill to stop the discrimination. Prior homeschool or private school students could enroll in an online program but the law clearly stated that the online schools could not receive funding for such students. If passed, Rep. Daniels’ bill would have stopped the discrimination. Finally, in 2007 a law passed that opened the door for homeschool students and private school students to enroll in public online programs.

While much of the current growth in enrollment occurred at the state’s largest online school, the Colorado Virtual Academy (Pam is also on the board of COVA), the number of different programs continues to grow as well. I earlier told you about new programs for 2008-09, like Kaplan Academy of Colorado, Insight School of Colorado, and eDCSD Online.

The voice of parents and students who benefit from this fast-growing type of education is the Colorado Coalition of Cyberschool Families.