Tax Payers Fund For-Profit Charter Schools as They Fail Miserably
Paolo Friere, in “Pedagogy of the Oppressed“, shows us the view of education as liberating and empowering, as a dialogue between teacher and students, and creating community through collaboration and empathy. K12 Inc., a for-profit, public online school, shows us the view of education where public school districts are ‘liberated’ from their tax dollars for the phenomenal return of under performing students and underpaid, non-certified teachers.
The private venture capital model of return on investment and maximizing profits holds empowering students toward greater insights and performance as the least important component of their model. And until recently they have been able to convince communities of their superior approach in which students as widgets can be moved through the system, perfected by private enterprise, with remarkable efficiency through technology.
Increasingly, the alarms are being raised. K12 Inc., founded by former Education Secretary Bill Bennett in 2000, is a publicly traded company projecting FY 2013 revenue of $840 to $860 million. K12 Inc. is paid public money to run virtual schools in a number of states. They also have subsidiary virtual schools and sell curriculum to other on-line academies throughout the country.
For example, K12 Inc’s Tennessee Virtual Academy which is being scrutinized for just 16% of its 3,200 students in K-8 meeting standards in math. There are also questions about emails directing teachers to delete bad grades.
Or, Colorado Virtual Academy (COVA) which in 2011, through aggressive marketing by K12 Inc., grew to 5,000 students. However, the academy posted a 12% graduation rate and high drop-out rate. Further complaints on Colorado Virtual Academy’s performances and management have led to recommendations that the operating charter not be renewed.
Or, K12 Inc operating in 43 school districts in Florida, in 2012 coming under investigation by the Florida Department of Education for using non-certified teachers and having teachers sign off on students they were not teaching.
In early January Maine Charter School Commission rejected the charter application for Maine Virtual Academy which was to be run by K12, Inc. The Maine Charter School Commission noted Colorado’s concerns; not only on poor student performance but also undo influence by K12 on board members.
In September 2012 the Maine Sunday Telegram exposed the profit motive of the corporations behind the scene pushing the charter school agenda.
Some of the connections:
K12, Inc and Connections Education (a subsidiary of Pearson Publishing) which wanted to expand virtual academies in Maine, and would directly benefit, were behind the scenes guiding Maine’s digital education reform.
The American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC), a corporate backed political group, wrote legislation for digital education introduced in Maine.
Former Florida Governor Jeb Bush’s Foundation for Excellence in Education would provide much of the guidance for designing Maine’s digital education reform. However the rep for the Foundation who would work with Maine’s education commissioner is actually paid by the firm that lobbies Florida officials for online education firms.
It becomes obvious that the profit motive is pervasive. The private corporation bottom line trumps education value, commitment to teachers, and is fleecing a desperate public looking for answers for the education of their children. Money is drained from public education and does not go toward an enhanced education for non-traditional students, but into the pockets of corporate raiders. Perhaps their poor performance, failing students, unhappy families, and unprofessional treatment of teachers to boost the bottom will become apparent enough that the oppressed will become empowered to take back the education of their children.
Read more at Reuters on how Charter Schools control their enrollment.
‘Following the Money’ graphic courtesy of Maine Sunday Telegram. Read the entire report here.
photo credit: http://stateimpact.npr.org/florida/2012/09/30/florida-districts-fight-k12s-plan-for-virtual-charter-schools-more-flexibility-or-less-oversight/