Monday, November 18, 2013

Republicans try to exempt failing grades at virtual schools from local districts report cards, so no ones accountable to taxpayers. Hey, how's privatization working out?

Private online virtual charter schools are failing, but you’d never know it by the way the media generally accepts how bad they are. It’s like we've had the debate, now move on. 
The following EdWeek article excerpt seems to just take our virtual schools failure for granted:
..."watchdogs maintain that given their generally poor academic performance and high student turnover, full-time online schools—particularly independent cyber charter schools run by for-profit management companies..."
That might come as a shock to a few parents. Online schools are generally doing a bad job academically.

At the same time, this Wisconsin State Journal article details how one district is trying to exempt their virtual charter schools bad grades from being included in their overall report cards. Outrageous? Yes:
The performance of Wisconsin virtual charter school students would no longer affect their school district’s overall state report card rating if more than half of the virtual school’s enrollment is from outside the district, under legislation proposed last month. Officials from the McFarland School District and its Wisconsin Virtual Academy, the state’s largest virtual charter school, are among those seeking the change … The McFarland School District created WIVA in 2009 … The K-12 virtual school has not been meeting state standards for two years, in contrast to the district’s traditional schools, which overall exceed state standards.

In September, District Superintendent Scott Brown noted in a letter to district parents that the overall district report card rating would have been “notably higher” without the virtual academy’s rating included in the cumulative score.

Many virtual charter schools are run by for-profit operators and have recently been scrutinized for poor performance statewide.
Of course Republicans have their fingerprints all over this virtual school cover-up:
The amendment proposed by Sens. Alberta Darling, R-River Hills, and Luther Olsen, R-Ripon, is opposed by DPI, which releases the report cards.

Spokesman John Johnson said … no district would be held accountable for the virtual schools with high open-enrollment numbers under the proposal … “If the virtual charter schools don’t have those students accounted for in their district’s totals and they won’t be counted in their home districts, then they wouldn’t be counted anywhere,” Johnson said. “We oppose that amendment. We believe it goes against what we’re trying to do for accountability of school districts for taxpayers.”
Even more to the point:
“If the bill passes, McFarland and other host school districts will be able to enjoy the revenues they rake in from hosting a virtual charter school without worrying that the poor performance of the virtual school will pull down the report card score for the district,” wrote Madison School Board president Ed Hughes...
The superintendent made my case for good public school systems, and ending privatization:
“Having a good school district causes a good demand for housing in your area, attracts businesses to your area, and we want people to have an accurate view of our district, and the way it’s working out, it isn’t,” Brown said. “Ultimately, (the virtual school) can’t harm our bricks-and-mortar efforts, that’s kind of the bottom line.”