Letters to the Editor

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EDUCATION: Smart options beat dumb cuts

Letter by Thomas J. Vander Ark, Federal Way on April 19, 2011 at 9:49 am with 3 Comments »
April 20, 2011 2:57 pm

The state Senate is threatening 10 percent cuts to reimbursement rates for online learning, the House 20 percent (TNT, 4-14). Budget cutting is an understandable reality this year, but this provision is odd because the state won’t save any money. If online options aren’t available, kids will just go back to more expensive brick-and-mortar schools.

Online learning already saves districts 25 percent, and providers typically don’t receive any local levy funding. The Federal Way Internet Academy (that I helped launch in 1996) operates with average funding of $4,975 per student, or less than half of the national average, and a quarter less than most online schools around the country.

Cutting their funding back to $4,000 (as the House suggests) may cause them to close shop, eliminate full- and part-time options for students statewide but not save the state a dime. How does that make sense?

Instead of dumb cuts, legislators should encourage the superintendent of public instruction to develop smart plans to boost options and reduce costs. Issue a request for proposals, and buy courses based on quality and cost. Everyone wins.

Smart options beat dumb cuts.

(Vander Ark, a partner in an education public affairs firm, is a former Federal Way school superintendent.)

Leave a comment Comments → 3
  1. taxedenoughintacoma says:

    Can’t you tell the voters what is going on here? The teacher and college prof. unions do not want on line learning. They don’t care about people that need to work and take classes on their schedule not the unions schedule. On Line learning will hopefully make the government union driven system an out dated form of education. this would be the best thing that could happen in this country.

    Bottom line is teacher unions don’t like you so in this state you are doomed. The WEA owns Olympia and you are starting to bother them. Hope you can out last them. My kids use you and love it and they can even read. Wow, what a concept.

  2. Evil scary unions!

  3. cclngthr says:

    Not everyone learns well with online learning. I got a masters that way and for me, it was more difficult than attending class. There has to be both.

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