Ravitch: Pennsylvania’s cyber-school expansion ‘unbelievable’

Pennsylvania just approved four new cyber-charter schools, bringing the number of online charter schools in the state to 17, writes noted education historian Diane Ravitch on her blog—and given what the research says about the efficacy of cyber schools in that state, she calls this news “unbelievable.”

“We constantly hear lectures from ‘reformers’ about data-driven decision-making and focusing only on results,” she writes. “They like to say ‘it’s for the children.’ … [But] the existing cyber-charters in Pennsylvania have been evaluated and found to have disastrous results. The data say they are failures.”

A Stanford study reviewed the academic performance in Pennsylvania’s charter schools and found virtual-school students started out with higher test scores than their counterparts in regular charters—but ended up with learning gains that were “significantly worse” than kids in traditional charters and public schools, on average.…Read More

Santorum’s shifting views on education

When Santorum was a Pennsylvania senator, he got a Pittsburgh-area school district to help pay tens of thousands of dollars in tuition for his children to receive online schooling. (Regina H. Boone/Detroit Free Press/MCT)

Republican presidential candidate Rick Santorum is scornful of the government’s hand in public education, pointing out that he and his wife have home-schooled their seven children. Yet back when Santorum was a senator from Pennsylvania, he got a Pittsburgh-area school district to help pay tens of thousands of dollars in tuition for his children to receive online schooling.

It’s a bit of history that’s unknown to most of those now hearing Santorum pitch for conservative votes he needs to overtake GOP frontrunner Mitt Romney.

Santorum says he wants to dramatically curtail the role states and the federal government play in running schools.…Read More

Competition offers $10K for 21st-century education ideas

_The Economist_ and InnoCentive hope to solicit an idea that will bring education to children in developing countries.
The Economist and InnoCentive hope to solicit ideas that will bring education to children in developing countries.

How can technology be leveraged to deliver a world-class education affordably to students in developing countries? That’s the question a new competition asks, and the best idea will earn $10,000 for its creator.

Many school-age children in developing countries need access to educational opportunities, and the publication The Economist and InnoCentive Inc. have turned to “crowdsourcing” for help.

The two organizations recently partnered to create the 21st Century Cyber-Schools Challenge, calling on participants from any discipline or background to submit ideas.…Read More