An estimated 200,000 students nationwide are being educated full-time through an expanding network of virtual public schools that are an offshoot of charter schools. But the per-student funding for the schools is the same or higher than that of traditional schools -- though the virtual schools do not have overhead costs for libraries, playgrounds, buses or cafeterias. Education expert Diane Ravitch questions whether taxpayer money should be spent for the benefit of the for-profit companies that operate the schools, but supporters say virtual schooling is expensive.

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