Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Wasting a generation with Charter, Private and Virtual Schools.

Another damning report on virtual schools. More money pits with profit margins and deep pockets to take more of our taxpayer money.
EdWeek: In our Feb. 22 issue, I wrote about the increased scrutiny on K12 Inc., a for-profit virtual charter schools operator that's been the subject of damning media reports and studies in recent months … But, as the Associated Press reports, a Senate education committee specifically removed virtual schools from the bill, and heard some fairly harsh criticism in the process. State Superintendent Tom Burnham: "The data is going to tell you over and over that expecting young people to work independently, your rate of success is not going to be very good. " Nancy Loome, executive director of the Parents' Campaign: "We cannot afford to let someone in with such a history.  They are the worst of the worst." The bill, sans virtual schools, passed the Senate.

Florida is considering a bill that would send tax dollars typically reserved for public school construction and maintenance costs to charter schools. The Miami Herald reported the larger charter school managers, some for-profit companies that contract to nonprofit entities, would receive millions, even though they already possess millions in existing cash assets. The money would come out of the school district's budget … that money (used) to pay off bond debt. The charter school community there said the money is necessary for the schools to stay open and expand.

In Ohio, a judge recently ruled that White Hat Management, a for-profit charter school operator, is a "public official" because most of its operational costs are paid for by public dollars. As a result, the company must disclose more of its financial records. (White Hat-managed schools have a checkered history; some have closed and four of six new schools the company attempted to open were not sponsored last week by the state department of education.)

Along with Florida, Idaho, Indiana, Oregon, and Tennessee, Iowa recently passed a law making online schooling more accessible. Due to the recent scrutiny of online schools—most notably a critical New York Times article and a National Education Policy Center report that cited adequate yearly progress well below traditional schools—some of those states are taking second looks at online schools.

The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel reported today that the Waukesha School District, in Wisconsin, is allowing its contract with K12 Inc. for a virtual school there to expire, in order to start its own virtual school.) On Thursday, the California Charter Schools Association released a report showing that virtual schools are more likely to be among the lowest-performing charter schools in the state than brick-and-mortar charter schools. 

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