Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Learn-at-home charter holds sessions

Supporters of North Carolina Connections Academy,  a proposed virtual charter school, will hold information sessions in Charlotte and Monroe on Wednesday.

The virtual school is one of 170 that filed letters of intent in September to apply for permission to open in 2015-16. By Dec. 6 we'll see how many follow through with a detailed application that could lead to being approved as an alternative public school.

Traditional public schools already offer online classes through N.C. Virtual Public School,  but there's teacher supervision and some required seat time.  The proposed statewide charter school,  which would be part of the Maryland-based for-profit Connections Academy chain, would use individual learning plans created with a teacher.  Students then learn from home,  with parents as  "learning coaches."  The approach is pitched as especially good for students who are far ahead of or behind classmates and can thrive on the individual approach.

The in-person information sessions will be from noon to 2 p.m. Wednesday at the Hampton Inn Monroe, 2368 Roland Drive, and from 6-8 p.m. at the Charlotte Mariott SouthPark, 2200 Rexford Road. There's also a video explaining how Connections Academy works.

Virtual charter schools have sparked debate across the country. A study by the University of Colorado's National Education Policy Center found that students in cyberschools led by K12, a different for-profit chain, didn't perform as well as counterparts in more traditional schools. In Charlotte,  Superintendent Heath Morrison has raised questions about such schools,  saying he wants Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools to create its own virtual schools to ensure quality.

Connections Academy is a spinoff from Sylvan Learning tutoring company,  according to its website. There are academies in 22 states,  including South Carolina,  and Connections Education was launched in 2011 to further expand the online schools. 

"In Fall 2011, Pearson, the world’s leading learning company, acquired Connections Education establishing a leading position in the fast-growing virtual school segment and the opportunity to apply Connections Education’s skills and technologies in new segments and geographic markets," the site says.

That may bring a gulp from families and educators facing a host of start-up problems with Pearson's PowerSchool/Home Base data system.  Since the system debuted statewide this summer, CMS and other districts have faced delays in class schedules, enrollment reports,  transcripts and first-quarter report cards.  After the delay in report cards was announced last week,  education junkie and recent school board candidate Bolyn McClung clued me in to this ongoing list of "known issues"  with the system.  Looks like there's quite a bit of work left to do.


Anonymous said...

This whole internet and computer thing is a fad, we need the steady and true results for all students from CMS and government indoctrination of our young folks minds.

How else will they become the voters we have seen.

Anonymous said...

So, how will the online "academies" deliver their Free and Reduced Lunches?

Perhaps even a future mayor can get in on the ground floor of an opportunity to "serve".

I can't imagine the government allowing a school which doesn't somehow cater to the Free Lunch crowd.

Shamash said...

Some of you folks with IT backgrounds should take a look at the "known issues" reports.

It's hard to believe that the PowerSchool software is really ready for prime time.

I know it's being used elsewhere, but problems like:

"As reported Sept. 23, known issues with transferring historical data have a direct impact on issuing transcripts."

Don't make this software sound production ready to me.

At least when I was involved in software development and implementation (way back in the 1990's, when we did much of our own IT work...), such issues were resolved in Beta testing, rarely on "live" systems.

But, then, if our software failed, something might have exploded...

Anonymous said...

Anon 8:59

Two things... first.. charter schools, virtual or physical, are not required to provide lunch services so there goes your sarcastic comment.

second.. yes, there is fraud and waste within the lunch program, just like anywhere else, business or government..but the majority of people who are on the free\reduced lunch deserve to be on it.. so go take your holier than thou somewhere else

Anonymous said...

Deserve to be on it.

That says it all when reading the minds of liberals and socialists.

Wiley Coyote said...
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Wiley Coyote said...


In CMS, one audit found 60% of applications ineligible for the NSLP. This is a national trend.

The USDA overpays benefits by $1.6 BILLION per year and plate waste by kids in the program is a staggering $2 BILLION per year.

School districts are only allowed to audit a 3% sample or 3,500 students.

The indisputable fact is, no one has a clue who truly qualifies and who doesn't. Students are encouraged to fill out the form anyway because the more on the program, the more money the school systems gets in funding.

Toss in Medicaid, Medicare, SS Disabilty and SNAP fraud, you have tens of billions in fraud we, the taxpayers are funding.

Anonymous said...

Just because charters aren't required to do FRL doesn't mean they can't. And it doesn't stop people from still trying to make them mandatory. California tried. And good ol' LIBERAL Jerry Brown Just Said No.

There is big money associated with government spending on education, ESPECIALLY FOR FREE STUFF, so don't be surprised when it happens.

Anonymous said...

Here's an FRL form that starts:

"Although our school does not offer a lunch program..."


So even schools that do not serve lunches can apparently get some money for their FRL students.

Ain't government wonderful?

Anonymous said...

Since this has turned to a "free handout agenda" I will comment. Just yesterday I picked up my kids after school and in front of me was a car with a SC tag. Talk about handouts you use our roads, schools,police, fire/medic and you register your auto in SC due to cost savings? I see more and more of this from local residents everyday. Until our state/county leaders get tough and make citizens pay their fare share our local/state taxes will increase. We have to pay for the jobs,roads,services and you want to save $500 bucks by registering your car at your parents house? Just move and stop freeloading on our services. Keith W. Hurley

Anonymous said...

Many of the public virtual schools in NC have teachers from all over the country....not sure if "seat time" is a reality. I know one such teacher. While she does email the students and talk on the phone, she has never seen any of them. My concern, how can you ever stop cheating in this scenario.....? If the kid wishes to it would be impossible to stop.

Anonymous said...

2:14 Keith, many of those SC license plates belong to people with second homes in SC, a condo at the beach, a house at a lake. So, guess what? Those people are actually paying taxes in 2 states, and supporting 2 school systems. So don't judge all SC cars by their plates!

Wiley Coyote said...


I'm willing to bet that if people are sending their kids to school in NC while paying taxes in SC or registering their cars in SC, the NCDoR would love to know who they are.

If your legal residence is in NC, your cars must be registered here.

The only way around that that I know of would be if that SC tagged car is a company car belonging to a SC company with the employee being a NC resident and falls within a reciprocal agreement between the two states.

One other possibility is that the driver has moved to NC and has not regitered their car.

Anonymous said...

This concept reminds me of an Isaac Asimov story... "The Fun They Had". The story revolves around the idea that school and teaching and learning has become an automated endeavor without real books or interactions...just sit down in front of a screen and absorb. The kids in the story come across a "real book" that details what life was like for children when they actually went to school and interacted with other their age and had real, live teachers..."Oh, the fun they had." the children pine in Asimov's seemingly prophetic tale.

Something to ponder...is this the future we want, the future we need?


Anonymous said...

It's a reality in CMS and elsewhere with the Discovery Channel forced down teacher's and student's gullet every day. there's even a Discovery squad making sure that the newest version of the old Encyclopedia Britannica Films of the 60's is being fed a steady diet of curriculum of dated videos to the minions.

Anonymous said...

I am sure you saw in the Observer,m Wiley, where Charlotte has one of the highest users if smart phones the the country. Smart phones, mind you, not ordinary cell phones. And, yet, we are supposed to believe we have this very high rate of abject poverty. Actually, I know numerous middle class folks who have no smart phones, because they cannot afforded the. So, I am guessing a very large portion of those smart phone users get government assistance. The scam continues.

Anonymous said...

Distance learning is always a challenge. If it is rote stuff like history or math, then this delivery channel maybe an option. Something in the sciences, probably not. Sure this may work for a minority of students, but the majority will just get shuffled along to the next thing that the parents buy into.

As we have seen with a majority publicly traded companies this past decade, the ability to make long term investments at the cost of short term profits is very difficult. Damage control is easier than missing a delivery.

For a perspective on this delivery channel take one of the free MOOC's out there.

Anonymous said...

The thought of learning by sitting in front of a screen is a joke. Students, especially younger one, need human interaction to effectively learn. As a parent, I refuse to buy my young children iphones and ipads (sorry CMS). The devices become a constant distraction, obsession and crutch and the child loses interest in learning and socializing with other humans. This is just a bad idea all around.

Barb S. said...

8:05 Agree with you 100%. Can you say scan material, cut and paste? It is disappointing that our educators are encouraging students to become even more dependent on these technology devices. Our children are becoming very adept at looking info up but it's nothing more than that. A deeper level of real learning is not occurring. But it's all about the instant gratification and if the task takes any real thought or time the kids nowadays aren't interested. Just because it's new and fancy, doesn't mean it's better.

Shamash said...

As a SC resident, I have checked into the income tax laws here and it is VERY DIFFICULT to escape SC Income Taxes.

Even if you move and leave the state.

Or the country, for that matter.

It may change your residency, but not your "domicile".

SC is one of the few "domicile" states in the country.

Look it up. It's not a good thing in a mobile society.

That means that if you have ANYTHING in SC, they can tax you under the assumption that you "intend" to return to SC at some future time and are in fact still "domiciled" in SC.

It could be 20 years from now (or NEVER) that you ACTUALLY return, but SC can still hit you for back taxes.

Even if you live and work and eventually die in a foreign country.

So, if anyone's income is taxed by SC, then I don't blame them for taking advantage of SC's "cheaper" tags.

Shamash said...
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Shamash said...

Back on topic (somewhat)...

I agree about the electronic devices being a distraction.

Nearly every such invention from the phonograph forward has been touted by its inventors for its "educational" benefits.

Even Thomas Edison thought the phonograph would be most useful for the distribution of learned lectures.

From http://inventors.about.com/library/inventors/bledisondiscphpgraph.htm

Ever practical and visionary, Edison offered the following possible future uses for the phonograph in North American Review in June 1878:

9.Educational purposes; such as preserving the explanantions made by a teacher, so that the pupil can refer to them at any moment, and spelling or other lessons placed upon the phonograph for convenience in committing to memory.


So, don't be surprised when the high hopes people have for "educational" technology get eclipsed by entertainment.

That's been the trend over the last 140 years.

Given a choice, most people would still rather be entertained than learn anything.

Anonymous said...

Quote from my child's 5th grade teacher, "I wish I just had my white (dry erase) board back".

Anonymous said...

Shamash, That is the issue. They live in NC they work in NC and their auto is registered in SC since tax/fees are lower. It is a issue in our county today. They simply have another family member who lives in the state of SC and they go to SC DMV and use that "home domicle" as address. I have had new residents to Charlotte from Ohio ask me were the SCDMV office is so they can get a tag. They actually think their is one in downtown Charlotte that they can walk too. It certainly is a game that goes on to save $500 to $700 dollars a year which is fine , BUT dont use our roads if that is your idea of saving money. I dont want to cater to that person or have him back up the roads I pay for. Keith W. Hurley