5 Big Facts

Myth: Cyber schools hurt public education.

Fact #1: In Pennsylvania, cyber charter schools are public schools too! And they are a necessity for families seeking flexibility to meet their child’s individual needs. Whether a student pursues an intense sports schedule, like Hannah, or has unique health challenges, like Alyssa, cyber schools are providing effective learning solutions.  Other parents and students choose cyber school to escape from bullying or to customize teaching methods for children with learning disabilities.

In just over a decade, cyber schools have experienced phenomenal growth—now serving more than 32,000 kids in Pennsylvania.  Providing parents with public school options strengthens public education for everyone.

Myth: Cyber schools drain money from school districts.

Fact #2: Overall, Pennsylvania spending on cyber schools is only $319 million—just 1 percent of the total we spend on public schools every year.

cyber funding chart

Further, when a student leaves a traditional public school, a portion of the funds already allocated to her education—81 percent on average—‘follows’ the student to the cyber school.The former school keeps the rest of the funds for a student it no longer has to educate.

Myth: Cyber school students don’t get enough socialization.

Fact #3: The flexibility of cyber school programs grants students more time to interact through sports and other extracurricular activities.  Many cyber schools also offer "blended learning" centers which provide students in-person class time with teachers and hands-on activities such as mobile science labs and performing arts centers.

Myth: Cyber schools perform poorly compared to school districts.

Fact #4: Cyber schools are held to an even higher standard than school districts for meeting “Adequate Yearly Progress” targets under the federal No Child Left Behind law.  While school districts need only meet standards in one age span, such as grades 3-5, 6-8, or 9-12, cyber schools must meet targets in every age group.

Cyber schools also take in many students stuck in failing or violent school districts, who are often well behind in their studies. Were cyber schools not providing quality education—with greater safety and for less money—Pennsylvania families would not continue choosing them over traditional public schools.

Myth: Cyber schools must cost far less to run than traditional public schools

Fact #5: Online, at-home learning sounds less costly than a brick-and-mortar school, but this is not always true.  Instructional materials, administrative costs, technology infrastructure and extracurricular activities are equally or more expensive for cyber schools. Cyber schools already effectively educate students for around 20 percent less than their traditional counterparts, and both parents and kids love them. Slashing mythical “excess funding” for cyber schools—as new legislation proposes—will seriously damage their ability to compete and offer Pennsylvania’s concerned families a quality educational alternative.