Expansion of Full-Time, Online Schooling Benefits Operators, Not Kids

HB 895 by Rep. Dwayne Bohac (R-Houston) would remove a longstanding cap on the expansion of full-time “virtual” schools. The bill, which is up for a hearing in the House Public Education Committee Tuesday, would deliver big benefits to private, for-profit operators, but it offers little or no educational benefit for Texas schoolchildren.

There is a place for online learning as a complement to in-person instruction and even on a full-time basis for students without access to needed instruction otherwise, such as those isolated by illness or geography. Those types of virtual learning are not the issue.

The problem with full-time online schools starts with the fact that these schools tend to be operated by private, for-profit companies that contract with host districts serving as conduits for taxpayer money. These online schools have a track record of delivering an inferior education, especially for the disadvantaged students they often target in their marketing campaigns, and their accountability to the public is next to nil. Texas AFT will be testifying against the measure alongside allies in the Coalition for Public Schools.