- Associated Press - Friday, January 6, 2012

WASHINGTON (AP) - A new report finds that even in a tough economy, companies that are contracted to manage charter schools and other public schools are expanding.

The report out Friday is by the National Education Policy Center at the University of Colorado Boulder.

It says that much of the growth is in the area of online learning, known as “virtual schools.”

The operators are known as education management organizations. The sector emerged in the 1990s as part of an effort to use the market to force changes in public education. The report notes that there are almost 300 such companies today and that nearly 780,000 students attend schools operated by them.