Expand the Virtual Academy

The U.S. government classifies Information as a private service-providing sector.

The sector, despite adjusting for recession, has barely grown in a two-decade period. There were 17,200 Information sector employees in Arkansas in January 1990 when the employment time series began. The Information sector employed 17,800 in December 2007 at the start of the most recent recession, and 16,600 in June 2009 when it ended. Yet there were only 15,000 Information sector employees in September 2010, according to non-seasonally adjusted data.

 

Wage and salary disbursements by the Arkansas Information sector totaled $1,044,938,000 in 2009. Arkansas trailed nine of 12 states in the southeast region but ranked 33rd in the U.S.

 

Distance learning has been part of K-12 virtual education efforts in Arkansas since the mid-1990s.

 

Virtual schools have been utilized in Arkansas since 2002.

 

The Arkansas Virtual Academy, a charter, opened in 2007-2008, and educates students in grades K thru 8.

 

The Arkansas Virtual High School, a pilot project, enrolls students in grades 9-12.

 

But obstacles to virtual education exist.

 

There is inadequate access to virtual education for students. K-8 enrollment statewide is capped at 500 students.

 

Children with inadequate access to virtual education include those with medical conditions.

 

Recommendation

         Repeal the statewide cap as part of an effort to market the Telecommunications component of Arkansasí Information sector to world markets.