Colorado Virtual Academy: Report finds low-paid teachers, huge workloads at online school

Teachers at Colorado's largest online school are likely overworked and underpaid, according to an investigation by KUNC reporter Grace Hood. She found that most of the teachers at Colorado Virtual Academy make less than $35,000 per year -- even middle school English instructors who, during the first semester last year, taught up to 240 students.

Randy DeHoff is a board member of Colorado Virtual Academy -- and former head of the Charter School Institute, which was the subject of our recent cover story, "A Hard Line." He told KUNC that high student enrollment numbers don't necessarily mean teachers are overworked. "We're not getting a consistent message from the teachers that they're overwhelmed," he said.

But teachers who spoke to reporter Hood said they were. At least one pointed the finger at the for-profit management company that runs the school, Virginia-based K12 Inc. That teacher, Casey Longo, suggested that K12 was more interested in making a buck than in ensuring that the class sizes were manageable for teachers and beneficial for students.

Hood's story is especially timely. Several Colorado lawmakers are considering measures to increase oversight at online schools, which historically have low test scores and high dropout rates. Yet enrollment in online schools is growing.

More from our Education archive: "Marcos Martinez, head of Ricardo Flores Magon Academy, resigns his post."

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Melanie Asmar is a staff writer for Westword. She joined the paper in 2009 and has won awards for her stories about education, immigration and epic legal battles. Got a tip? She'd love to hear it.
Contact: Melanie Asmar

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