Virtual charter schools remain a contentious issue in American education. Known alternatively as online academies, or cyber schools, they deliver 100% of their education remotely. Learners might get extensive face time with their teacher and peers through teleconferencing, or they might get little to none at all.
Despite the attention they receive, virtual charters are still a decidedly unpopular option for schooling in the U.S. Out of roughly 50 million K-12 American learners during the 2015-16 school year (the last for which data is available), just 278,511 attended a virtual charter.
A good many virtual charters are homegrown local businesses. But two businesses run somewhere over 120 charter schools in 29 different states that, together, enroll over half of the total virtual student body. These are K12 Inc. and Connections Academy, the latter of which is owned by the U.K.-based education giant, Pearson.
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