Julie Carr Smyth And Kantele Franko

COLUMBUS, Ohio: As enrollment in online charter schools has soared across the U.S., states have struggled to keep up and to put in place regulations ensuring students get a real education and cyber schools get the right amount of funding.

The virtual schools’ future is of renewed interest since the installation of Education Secretary Betsy DeVos, an online charter investor and advocate who views them as a valuable option for students.

While some perform well, the sector has been plagued by accounts of poor performance, mismanagement, fiscal malfeasance and questionable student attendance and participation.

National data show enrollment has tripled in the past decade, a period during which school choice advocates contributed almost $89 million to state-level campaigns.

The schools’ defenders argue they serve nontraditional students disserved by traditional public schools.