Online-Only Charter Schools on the Menu?

Nothing says “online learning” quite like replacing traditional education altogether with an online experience. And that’s increasingly what’s going on in some parts of the country, as this article on North Carolina’s ongoing consideration of the issue reminds us.

The state’s Board of Education is considering an application for virtual schools that would cater to students as young as five years old—and would be supported by taxpayer dollars. This particular move came about because of an ongoing legal battle between the state courts and N.C. Learns, a company that aims to deliver K12 education entirely online.

Such education doesn’t seem to deliver promising results. As explained in a New York Times editorial early last year, research shows that students in an online-only environment fare twice as poorly as their brick-and-mortar counterparts when it comes to progress on standard tests.

Some disadvantages of an online-only environment at such a young age seem clear—lack of socialization and individual interaction certainly stand out. On the other hand, one advantage would seem to be cost, as there’s no building infrastructure to support, but curiously, these online charter schools still receive the same funding as would a brick-and-mortal charter.