Virtual School Meanderings

August 3, 2021

News: The for-profit charter school problem

So this item came across my desk last week and I wanted to highlight it.

The for-profit charter school problem
Photo by CDC on Unsplash – people sitting on chair inside room

The top lobbying group for the charter school industry is rushing to preserve millions in funds from the federal government that flow to charter operators that have turned their K-12 schools into profit-making enterprises, often in low-income communities of color.

The group, the National Alliance for Public Charter Schools (NAPCS), objects to a provision in the House Appropriations Committee’s proposed 2022 education budget that closes loopholes that have long been exploited by charter school operators that profit from their schools through management contracts, real estate deals, and other business arrangements. NAPCS also objects to the legislation’s proposal to cut 9 percent from the federal government’s troubled Charter Schools Program (CSP).

To continue reading, go to the original article at https://www.alternet.org/2021/07/for-profit-charter-schools/ (plus it supports local journalism)

The article was interesting to me because it highlighted specific examples of how the charter school industry (and yes, it is an industry and not some altruistic version of public education) try to basically lie about the nature of regulation to suit their own goals.  Take this example from the article:

The Reality – The specific provision regarding for-profit charters that NAPCS objects to states, “None of the funds made available by this Act or any other Act may be awarded to a charter school that contracts with a for-profit entity to operate, oversee or manage the activities of the school.”

The Charter Industry Fiction –While the proposal from House Democrats is clearly aimed at ending federal funding of a specific type of charter school operation, NAPCS, in its petition campaign, claims that the new legislation would “cut off ALL federal funding” to any charter school that contracts with any sort of business entity, which would seem to suggest that the proposal jeopardizes federal funds to all charters, since virtually all schools, charter and public, outsource some services—such as transportation, textbooks, or grounds maintenance—to outside providers.

NAPCS’s president and CEO Nina Rees told a CNN reporter that the legislation “could impact schools that contract out for cafeteria services, special education services, or back office staff.”

There are many other examples in the article, so be sure to check it out yourself.  But this does highlight how this industry is more concerned with pilfering the public purse for the purpose of profit than they are any sort of responsibility or accountability – and definitely any concern for public education.

May 29, 2020

Review Finds EdTech Claims Can Be Misleading – You Don’t Say?

So this item came through my inbox in the past 7-10 days and I’ve been mulling over what to say about it.

Review finds edtech claims can be misleading
(Unsplash)
Education-technology companies often make bold promises about their products’ effectiveness, particularly regarding students’ academic gains. However, a review of three companies’ claims finds that the research on which they are based is dubious and could be misleading.

Full Story: The Hechinger Report (5/20)

I have to be honest and say that I’m disappointed – but not surprised – that this “finding” has been big news.

Let’s forget about the whole media/technology doesn’t impact learning perspective, that has been the dominant view in the field of educational technology for decades.  And for those to whom this is news, technology is a medium through which instruction is delivery.  What impacts learning is how that instruction is designed, delivered, and supported.

But does it really surprise anyone that corporations use selective and misleading data to promote their products?  I mean tobacco companies still won’t admit that smoking is bad for you.  Fast food companies still make claims about the healthiness of their products.  Why do we expect corporations involved in the educational sphere to act any differently?

The more important question, in my opinion, is given this reality that I think we can all pretty much agree upon…  Why do we still allow corporations to directly or indirectly operate public schools?

A deep question for you to ponder over the weekend.

November 13, 2018

Profits To Be Made in K-12 Online Learning

So some six years ago I flagged an article out of an NPR outlet in Ohio that I wanted to come back to and write something about at a later time.  It was so long ago in fact that the article is no longer available online and I had to go through the Internet Archive to find a copy of it.

The original article was entitled “How Much Does It Cost to Run an Online School?” and at the time I had planned to write an entry that examined the literature related to what we know about the funding provided to K-12 online learning, and how much of the literature – that wasn’t coming from the corporations themselves or their neo-liberal proponent organizations – found that full-time online learning cost less.  See for example:

However, as I look back on the original article now, I’m reminded of another piece that I recently saved because I wanted to come back to it in an entry…

Virtual schools keep education publisher Pearson on courseThe Irish Times

The basic gist of this article is that, as a company, Pearson Education is a money losing business – or at least its profit has been significantly decreased – if not for the fact that some years ago it bought out Connections Education and the “demand for online courses and virtual schools” in the United States will essentially save the company during this fiscal year.

Image what could happen if all of those tax dollars were spent on public education, instead of enriching the pockets of Pearson executives and shareholders?

August 3, 2016

K-12 Online Learning And Charter School Ownership

I know I have already posted an image entry this week, but this one came across my electronic desk and I wanted to pass it along.

Original image at http://nepc.colorado.edu/blog/who-runningWhile the image is four-five years old, it still struck me. We talk about cyber charter schools as being only a small part of the overall charter school movement (and the overall K-12 online learning movement). But when you look at the size of the companies – at least in terms of number of schools – it is surprising to see that K12, Inc. is (or at least was) the largest player in the field; and Connections Academy was a significant player as well.  At least it was surprising to me…

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