Virtual School Meanderings

August 31, 2021

Virtual Schools Got Equal Pandemic Aid, Despite Little Disruption

A colleague of mine sent me this news item.

Virtual Schools Got Equal Pandemic Aid, Despite Little Disruption

By The Associated Press — August 27, 2021  6 min read

While many schools scrambled to shift to online classes last year, the nation’s virtual charter schools faced little disruption. For them, online learning was already the norm. Most have few physical classrooms, or none at all.

Yet when Congress sent $190 billion in pandemic aid to schools, virtual charters received just as much as any other school because the same formula applied to all schools, with more money going to those in high-poverty areas, an Associated Press investigation found.

“It’s scandalous that they’re getting that much money,” said Gordon Lafer, an economist at the University of Oregon and school board member in Eugene, Oregon. “There were all kinds of costs that were extraordinary because of COVID, but online schools didn’t have any of them.”

To continue reading, visit https://www.edweek.org/education/virtual-schools-got-equal-pandemic-aid-despite-little-disruption/2021/08

At the time he sent it, I commented to our group that this was an issue that continues to bug me.

If the whole idea behind public schooling is that we collect taxes for the public good and distribute those public dollars across the system so that everyone has a base value for their education, why is it that my child gets funded at a lower rate because I’ve made the decision to send them to an online school?  I mean we don’t look at two brick-and-mortar schools and say – School A can subsidize use of public transit, whereas School B must run its own bus system, so we should fund them differently!

At the same time, why should my public tax dollars be used to line the pockets of greedy executives and shareholders who see students as widgets and their corporate goal is to maximum profit per widget?
This is the problem you have when you allow corporations to directly or indirectly run schools.  As an academic, the second question is the bigger one for me because it is one that legislators could do something about – if they weren’t so spineless, ideologically entrenched, or beholden to their corporate masters.  But I do have some sympathy for the parent who finds themselves in the first position.

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.

July 8, 2021

A movement is growing to counter the false promise of “school choice” | and more

Always an interesting and important read.

 

 

Welcome to Cashing in on Kids, a weekly email newsletter for people fed up with the privatization of America’s public schools—produced by In the Public Interest.

Not a subscriber? Sign up. And make sure to like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

 

 

A movement is growing to counter the false promise of “school choice.” In the Public Interest’s Jeremy Mohler writes, “It’s become apparent in recent months that public schools following the ‘community school’ strategy have been some of the most successful at navigating the ups and downs of the pandemic.”

He continues, “If our mission is to make sure all children receive a great education, then charter schools, private school vouchers, and other forms of privatization fall short.

And if we want to go even further to ensure that public institutions are meeting the needs of the communities they serve, then community schools are a promising education reform that deserves adequate public investment.” The Progressive

Parents say New Orleans charter school “silences voices of dissent.” Tensions are rising at a New Orleans charter school named after a former Louisiana state education superintendent who said he believed in the “supremacy of the Caucasian race.” Nola.com

North Carolina’s charter school enrollment is soaring. North Carolina is experiencing massive growth in homeschooling, private schools, and charter schools, while the state’s traditional, neighborhood public schools saw a 5 percent drop in enrollment, falling by 70,000 students. News & Record

Turmoil in Providence. A recent decision to place a charter school in a traditional, neighborhood public school is a first for Providence, Rhode Island. And it’s causing an uproar. The Providence Journal

How we’re fighting back

Still fighting for their public school. Los Angeles parents, students, teachers, and other community members are protesting after Citizens of the World (COTW) charter schools used the California law known as Prop-39 to take space from Shirley Avenue Elementary School campus. Patch.com

Money for community schools in L.A. budget. The Los Angeles Unified school board recently passed a $13.8 billion operating budget for the new fiscal year, including money for community schools. Los Angeles Daily News

Community school campaign launches in Nashville. In Metro Nashville Public Schools, students speak more than 100 different languages, but many students don’t currently feel represented in their curriculum. To solve this problem, a number of organizations are launching a grassroots campaign for community schools throughout Nashville. Tennessee Lookout

 

 

 

In the Public Interest
1305 Franklin St., Suite 501
Oakland, CA 94612
United States

June 2, 2021

COSTLY FAILURE: A new report by In the Public Interest on how California is overpaying for online charter schools that are failing students

Another item from the folks at In The Public Interest.  This is an interesting report – but not surprising given the regular news around profiteering and scandal related to the charter industry in general.  The general URL for the project website is http://costlyfailure.org/

Online charter schools are California’s fasting growing education sector.

This report offers the first comprehensive assessment of the state’s online (“nonclassroom-based”) charter schools.

May 20, 2021

Pearson to Buy Stride Inc. (K12, Inc.)???

So there was a rumour going around a couple of days ago…

Stride gains on report that Pearson may be preparing takeover bid

May 18, 2021 10:36 AM ET Stride, Inc. (LRN) By: Josh Fineman, SA News Editor
  • Stride Inc. (NYSE:LRN) rose 1.3% after a report that Pearson plc (NYSE:PSO) is said to be preparing a bid for the online education company. Pearson fell 1.5%.
  • Pearson is said to be working with advisors on a potential offer for Stride, which was previously known as K12, according to a StreetInsider report, which cites an unidentified source.
  • Stride was previously reported to be a potential takeover target about a month ago, according a Betaville report.
  • Stride short interest 9.1% of float.
  • Last month, Stride gained after earnings but Morgan Stanley sticks with cautious rating.

In less than four hours, the story was cleared up.

Pearson says it’s not preparing a bid for Stride Inc.

May 18, 2021 2:08 PM ET Pearson plc (PSO) By: Josh Fineman, SA News Editor
  • Pearson (NYSE:PSO) said it’s “not preparing a bid” for Stride Inc. (NYSE:LRN), a Pearson spokesman tells Seeking Alpha.
  • Earlier, Stride Inc. rose after a StreetInsider report that Pearson  is said to be preparing a bid for the online education company.
  • Stride, formerly known as K12, is paring earlier gain, now up 2%.
  • Stride was previously reported to be a potential takeover target about a month ago, according a Betaville report.
  • Stride didn’t immediately return Seeking Alpha request for comment.
  • Stride short interest 9.1% of float.

Two things I find interesting about this story.

  1. On the news that they might be buying Stride Inc/K12, Inc., Pearson stock actually decreased (i.e., the market thought it a bad purchase).
  2. What would the cyber charter school landscape have looked like with both Stride Inc./K12, Inc. and Connections Academy all under the same company?
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