Arizona students protest possible distance-learning cuts

Bringing song, dance, and a burst of color to the state Capitol, hundreds of students, teachers, and parents rallied April 29, urging Arizona Gov. Janet Napolitano and lawmakers to spare their distance-learning schools from budget cuts, the Arizona Republic reports. The rally typified many Arizonans’ uncertainty over the state’s 2009 budget predicament. Nobody knows the extent of the cuts the schools might face as lawmakers try to offset a $1.9 billion deficit for the coming year. But the students, teachers, and parents weren’t waiting until more facts become known. More than 20,000 students attend distance-learning schools in Arizona. Yet, possible cuts could compound severe reductions to the online schools recently outlined by the state Education Department, said Ron Neil, superintendent of Mesa’s Sequoia Choice Distance Learning. That could threaten to put some of the state’s online schools out of business, hampering their ability to help at-risk students who have been dropping out of traditional public schools at rapid rates, he said…

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