Boom in Online Schooling Fuels Broad Debate

Freedom appeals to parents; critics worry over regulations, costs
By Robin Frost,  Newser User
Posted Feb 1, 2008 6:32 PM CST

(Newser) – With half a million children taking classes online, debate over virtual schooling is intensifying, the New York Times reports. The proliferation of web-based public schools has sparked concerns about public financing and the appropriateness of the model for young children. In Wisconsin, meanwhile, supporters won a fight last week to keep 12 virtual schools open despite strong opposition.

Full-time online charter schools are taxpayer-funded and subject to federal testing requirements. Teachers, unions and school boards say the schools divert state payments from the online students' home districts. Parents like the system because it allows students to move at their own pace. “There’s no reason for Isabel to practice counting if she can already add," said one mother.