On the Feb. 2 Mirror Community page appeared a photo of children from the Agora Cyber Charter School.
Part of the caption stated, "Agora is a fulltime, tuition-free online public school option for Pennsylvania students statewide."
Tuition-free would not have been my choice of words.
First, each school district pays the yearly tuition for each child from its district that uses the Agora Cyber School. In round figures, the approximate cost to the taxpayers of the Altoona Area School District is $7,000 a year per each child attending Agora.
If the child who chooses the cyber school option is a special-needs child, that cost doubles to $14,000.
The money goes directly to the PA Department of Education. The Board of Trustees of Agora Cyber then pays a for-profit management company about 7 percent of the taxpayers' money to manage this school.
The management fee can equal $2.8 million.
The present management company, as far as I could find, is The Insperity Corporation. Before Insperity, the company that ran the Cyber School, was the CYNWD Company. They were sued by the Lamb Firm for breach of contract.
A judgment was given for $74,727.95. The creator of the CYNWD Company is also the founder of the Agora School.
Our local school tax dollars are paying for this school. They are also paying an additional 7 percent to pay for a private, for-profit corporation to manage this statewide school. I would not call this a tuition free school. I would call it a publicly funded school, giving profit to a private corporation at the taxpayers' expense.
The only thing public about the Cyber School is the vast amount of taxpayers' money used to prop up what is essentially a private, for-profit company. Charter schools are a backdoor entrance to full privatization of our public school system, which in my opinion is the basic building block for any democracy to grow and prosper.
If publicly funded, privately managed schools become the main institutions educating our children, then the authentic, full fledged public schools will become dumping grounds for the poor, needy, disenfranchised and disabled children who seldom fit into the market based education model.