Date of Award

Spring 2010

Degree Type


Degree Name

Master of Arts in Social and Cultural Foundations in Education


College of Education, Department of Educational Policy Studies and Research

First Advisor

Amira Proweller, PhD

Second Advisor

Ronald Chennault, PhD


Until recently the resources available to students have been limited to the boundaries of their school district. Due to technological advances in web-based curriculum, more and more students are opting to enroll in virtual schools. Virtual school models vary, but the most controversial type is the cyber charter school managed by for-profit companies. Supporters of cyber charter schools maintain that the schools are an efficient method for education children who do not wish to be a part of the mainstream public school system. Critics see cyber charter schools as the newest trend in privatizing education. Educational management organizations use federal, state, and local monies to provide online education services. This fact is evidence that education policy and the market are increasingly becoming intertwined. This thesis seeks to analyze this trend in education. Particular attention is given to education policies that opened the door to private firms entry into virtual education. The paper uses K12 Inc., one of the largest for-profit firms in the virtual charter school market, to illuminate some of the tensions surrounding education privatization. Research, conducted through documentary analysis, reveals the powerful connections K12 Inc. has with politicians and the many benefits those connections have awarded them. The risks involved with the sustained and continued growth of cyber charter schools, run by for-profit companies, deserves a critical and thoughtful analysis.

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