Much ado about nothing
Enacted just two months ago, Tennessee’s new virtual-education measure is receiving much flack from Democrats and Republicans alike. At issue is the $5,387 in per-pupil funding marked for the virtual charters opened under the bill’s auspices. Critics assert that these charters siphon cash from district schools, leaving them bereft of resources. But a word of caution to these critics: Average per-pupil funding in Tennessee is about $7,900, according to the Census Bureau, so sending students to a virtual charter actually saves about 2,500 education dollars each kid. Virtual charters are a smart new way to leverage twenty-first century technology (and save on building and busing costs to boot). This type of innovation may even be more important in economic downturns than it is in booms.
“‘Virtual school’ in Tennessee may drain taxpayer funds,” The Commercial Appeal, July 25, 2011.
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