Darcy Bedortha is a guest writer for Anthony Cody’s blog.
She tells her story as a Lead Teacher for a K12 virtual charter school.
She confirms all the worst fears of critics of virtual charters.
They make a lot of money. They are passionate about profits, not students.
Students need one-to-one contact with a human being. They don’t get it.
In a long and heartbreaking post, she writes:
I was an English teacher, so my students would write. They wrote of pain and fear and of not fitting in. They were the kinds of young people who desperately needed to have the protective circle of a community watching over them. They needed one healthy person to smile at them and recognize them by name every day, to say “I’m glad you’re here!” Many of my former students do not have that.
The last thing these young people needed, I came to realize during my time with K12 Inc., was to be isolated in front of a computer screen. A week or two or three would often go by without my getting a word from a student. They didn’t answer their email, they didn’t answer their phones. Often their phones were disconnected. Their families were disconnected. My students also moved a lot. During my first year at the school I spent days on the phone trying to track students down. This year I struggled to not simply give up under the weight of it all.
In the fall of 2013, 42 percent of our high school students were deemed “economically disadvantaged.” I had a number of students who were not native English speakers. I cannot wrap my head around how to serve a student who is unable to read or comprehend the language that the virtual curriculum is written in, let alone learn the technology (when it is functioning) without sitting beside them in the same space. Many of my non-native speakers had parents who did not speak English at all. These students often struggled for a very short time, and then I never saw their work again. They dropped out, moved on.
The school officials make millions of dollars. The virtual charter works for them.
Why are we allowing public dollars to flow to these non-educational institutions?
Silly question. They give campaign contributions. They lobby. They are strategic in advancing their goal: Profit.