Virtual School Meanderings

March 20, 2014

For Profit Charter Schools Are NOT Public Schools

Again no Yahoo alert on the K12, Inc. close.  I’m going to have to look into this over the weekend.  Anyway, last week I posted this on my Facebook page.

I said it many times in the past… For all their claims about being public schools, charter schools are not public schools. In fact, this was the position they took in a recent court case and the judge agreed with them.

Judge rules that state Controller Thomas DiNapoli cannot audit charter schools
By Greg B. Smith / NEW YORK DAILY NEWS

New York charter schools won a big victory Thursday when a judge ruled the state’s top fiscal officer can’t follow the money and look at their books.

Charter school crusader Eva Moskowitz filed suit to bar state Controller Thomas DiNapoli from auditing her 22 schools, all of which are publicly funded but also receive private donations. On Thursday, Manhattan Supreme Court Justice Thomas Breslin ruled DiNapoli did not have the authority to audit any New York charter because the schools are not technically “units of the state.”

Read more at http://www.nydailynews.com/new-york/education/state-comptroller-audit-charter-schools-judge-article-1.1721265#ixzz2w3jh0WlX

See https://www.facebook.com/michaelkbarbour/posts/10103067256844540 for post on my Facebook page.

For those of us who follow such things, this decision was not new. We’ve seen the same thing in the K-12 online learning world some time ago.

When Private Firms Run Schools, Financial Secrecy Is Allowed
By MORGAN SMITH

On a recently approved Texas charter school application, blacked-out paragraphs appear on almost 100 of its 393 pages.

Redactions on the publicly available online version of the application often extend for pages at a time. They include sections on the school’s plan to support students’ academic success, its extracurricular activities and the “extent to which any private entity, including any management company” will be involved in the school’s operation. The “shaded material,” according to footnotes, is confidential proprietary or financial information.

The school, part of an Arizona charter school network, opened a campus in San Antonio this year. It was technically formed under a nonprofit, but its management is handled by a private company, the Basis Educational Group, owned by the school’s founders. A spokeswoman for the Texas Education Agency said redactions appeared on the application because the information was copyrighted.

To continue reading, click here.

February 21, 2014

eSN Today: Are States Making The Right Decisions With Charter Schools?

This scrolled through my inbox on Tuesday.  You know, I continue to find it interesting that I see these self-serving reports – and even more disturbing the media that cover them in such an unquestioning way.

In this instance, we have a report from the National Alliance for Public Charter Schools…  And we all know what they are going to be arguing for – i.e., “no caps on the growth of public charter schools, a variety of public charter schools allowed, multiple authorizers available, accountability required, adequate funding, transparent decision-making processes, performance-based contracts required”.  Essentially a greater expansion of the charter school movement.

Instead of questioning the value or wisdom of these recommendations, the reporter – and by extension the media outlet – the uses a quote from another charter advocate:

Yet, little data exists on whether or not charter schools do, in fact, raise student achievement.

“Truth be told, ethical arguments between supposedly ‘pro-‘ and ‘anti-‘ groups fall prey to the same pitfall as the empirical arguments: they obscure the essential heterogeneity of charter schools,” writes Conor P. Williams, senior researcher in New America’s Early Education Initiative. “Charters are diverse to such an extent that they almost cease to be a definable subset.”

Williams argues that instead of using national data to try and define whether or not charter schools are better or worse than traditional public schools, performance should be examined by state.

The reality is that there few, if any, methodologically reliable and valid studies that have shown charter schools to be more effective than traditional public schools.  That being the case, even when charter schools are shown to be as effective it means that they same results could have been achieved in a traditional public school and no one would have profited from taxpayer’s money that was allocated for public education.  But that is the American way I guess – competitive is the answer to every social problem and few seem to have problems with profiting from taxpayers!

Meris Stansbury In today’s news, a new report reveals that states across the country are dramatically changing their charter school laws, but will these laws improve charter school performance? Also, innovative ways to involve girls in coding; and math products get students engaged with robots and gaming.Do you think new state laws will improve charter school performance? What are some fun ways to get students involved with coding? Leave your comments with the stories, email me at mstansbury@eschoolnews.com, or find me @eSN_Meris on Twitter.

Best,
Meris Stansbury, Associate Editor

Top News of the Day

Are states making the right decisions with charter schools?

Whether or not you’re for or against charter schools, the charter movement is spreading like a wildfire in many states across the country. Now, one report details which states are updating policy measures that could [ Read More ]

January 7, 2014

Your Tax Dollars At Work: Ohio Edition

Not to pick on just K12, Inc., let’s post an Ohio edition of Your Tax Dollars at Work.  Shortly before the holidays, Diane Ravitch alerted me to a Charter Founder in Ohio Makes Large Political Contributions, Gets Rich.  The original source for this issue came across Diane’s desk from a Plunderbund blog entry entitled ECOT Founder Living VERY Well Off Ohio’s School Funding Dollars.

For those who are unfamiliar, ECOT or the Electronic Classroom of Tomorrow is the largest cyber charter school in Ohio.  According to Greg at the Plunderbund blog, ECOT was about to receive

a “bonus” check of $2.9 million that would be quickly rerouted into ECOT owner William Lager’s other private businesses.  This is not the first raise that ECOT has received this year.  Through the Kasich budget passed this summer, ECOT received the largest increase in state funding for any charter school in Ohio at $4.8 million.  This far surpassed the second largest increase of $1.35 million given to Ohio Virtual Academy.

Just to remind folks, this is an additional $2.9 million of taxpayers’ money!  And what are the taxpayers of Ohio getting for this $2.9 million bonus?  Well, according to the Ohio School Report Cards entry for ECOT, it isn’t good!!!  One “D”, seven “F”s, and one area that received an NR (which I assume is no response).  This performance is worth a $2.9 million bonus of taxpayers’ money?

So how is this possible, I think this chart answers many of our questions:

lager_donations

While ECOT CEO (William Lager) has many business interests beyond ECOT (although the Plunderbund blog entry does describe several other publicly-funded Lager initiatives), you also have to ask yourself how much of this $1,343,242.46 is taxpayers’ money?

What’s the old saying, “you have to spend money to make money”?  And when it is the taxpayers’ money, whynot spent as much as you need to get the job done?

Your Tax Dollars At Work

Some time ago, I saw the following two entries in my RSS reader from Blog for Arizona.com.

  1. K12 Inc. spent $21.5 million on ads in 2012
  2. Your online charter school tax dollars at (political) work

These two entries were posted about half a year apart, but tell a similar story.  In the second entry, Dave Safier writes:

In Florida’s 2012 elections, K12 Inc. gave the maximum $500 donation to 47 legislative candidates. One was a Democrat, the other 46 were Republicans.

The online corporation got a good bang for its buck: 42 of the candidates it supported won.

Here’s why K12 Inc. was so focused on the Florida elections. It was recently being investigated by the Florida Department of Ed for using uncertified teachers, which is illegal in Florida, by having certified teachers pretending to to do the teaching. It never hurts to have 42 legislators on your side when you’re being investigated, right?

In the first entry, Safier writes:

USA Today has an article about the amount of money for-profit online schools spend on advertising to lure in new students.

The USA TODAY analysis finds that 10 of the largest for-profit operators have spent an estimated $94.4 million on ads since 2007. The largest, Virginia-based K12 Inc., has spent about $21.5 million in just the first eight months of 2012.

The story focuses on K12 Inc., which has about 275,000 students nationwide…

Keep in mind that one of the main sources of revenue for K12, Inc. is the full-time equivalent (FTE) funding that the company received for those 275,000 students enrolled in its cyber charter schools.  FTE funding is public funds or taxpayers’ money.  Essentially, your tax dollars at work…

December 20, 2013

More Pennsylvania School Performance Profile And Cyber Charter Schooling

A couple of months ago you may remember that I posted an entry entitled Pennsylvania School Performance Profile And Cyber Charter Schooling. This week, the York Dispatch published an article, Special report: Pa. cybers still falling short of York County schools on state standards.

While the author of this news piece reached similar conclusions as I did back in October – “Eight failing cyber charter schools and two almost failing or barely passing cyber charter schools!” This infographic that accompanied the article is quite telling…

20131218_125009_CyberD18

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