Virtual School Meanderings

January 28, 2016

“National School Choice Week” Fueled by Major Right-Wing Funders and Corporate Lobby Groups

A good reminder for folks about this corporate-driven, privatization effort in public education.

“National School Choice Week” Fueled by Major Right-Wing Funders and Corporate Lobby Groups

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: January 27, 2016

Contact: Nikolina Lazic, press@prwatch.org

MADISON, WI — With 32 governors proclaiming this week “School Choice Week,” and more than 16,000 scheduled events listed on the promotional website, #NationalSchoolChoiceWeek has become a big deal, and not by accident.

Launched five years ago by the Gleason Family Foundation—which spent more than $4.3 million on the project in 2014—the week has grown rapidly through the backing of advocacy groups and deep pockets of funders focused on promoting charters, vouchers, and tax credits that aid private schools, including religious and for-profit ventures.

In federal and state budgets, “school choice” policies often divert or reduce Americans’ tax dollars available for traditional public schools that educate our most underserved students or for investment in sustainable and innovative community schools that are truly public.

Today, for example, the State Policy Network (SPN) is holding a “Tweet-up” to promote school “choice” and its fight “to limit government and advance market-friendly public policy at the state and local levels,” and the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) is using the week to pitch a “revolutionary” universal education savings account bill for Washington, DC, introduced by Senator Ted Cruz.

The Center for Media and Democracy, a watchdog group on corporate influence on public policy, is urging reporters to examine the interests behind the PR push on school choice.

“The National School Choice Week website’s Partners page provides a who’s-who gallery of Koch network groups, corporations, and billionaires promoting privatization,” said Lisa Graves, CMD’s Executive Director, adding: “although the week features many local events, it is backed by national entities, some of which are hostile to the idea of public schools and whose goals have included full privatization. No story about National School Choice Week is complete if it does not mention the special interests behind the choice agenda.”

NCSW’s website lists numerous partners, including the Walton Family Fund, ALEC, SPN, the Freedom Foundation, FreedomWorks, Cato Institute, Reason Foundation, the Heritage Foundation, the James Madison Institute, and the U.S. Chamber of Commerce—many of which have ties to the Koch brothers’ political network. David Koch ran for Vice President in 1980 on a platform that included privatizing public schools, and his brother Charles started pushing school choice in the 1960s. Together they have funded an array of groups that spread that agenda.

For example, both SPN and ALEC have received financial support from the Koch funding network in addition to corporations. ALEC is a pay-to-play operation whose board includes K12, a for-profit “virtual” school company that has also sponsored SPN activities. At ALEC task force meetings, corporate lobbyists and special interest groups vote as equals with legislators on bills to expand charters, vouchers, and tax credits that serve the choice agenda—in addition to other bills that attack worker rights, environmental protections, and more. Koch Industries has been on ALEC’s board for decades and the Koch family fortune is one of the biggest funders of ALEC.

As CMD has documented, the charter school industry has been fueled by more than $3.6 billion from the federal government over the past two decades in addition to billions from states and from wealthy choice advocates like the billionaire Walton and DeVos families. This surge in cash has created a league of lobbyists urging legislators to send more tax dollars to this industry.

Here are some additional resources CMD has created about the school privatization effort:

CMD also notes that People for the American Way (PFAW) has published a useful, detailed report: “The Agenda of National School Choice Week: Don’t Be Blinded by the Bright Yellow Scarves.” Also, the Center for Popular Democracy (CPD) has documented more than $200 million in fraud and waste by charter schools. Additionally, In the Public Interest (ITPI) also has resources on charter schools and school privatization, including polling. (CMD has worked with ITPI, CPD, and PFAW on issues.)

Dustin Beilke

Dustin Beilke is a freelance writer from Madison, WI. He has written for a number of publications, including Newsday, Salon.com, The Nation, PRWatchThe Progressive, In These Times, Mother Jones, The Capital Times, and The Onion.

January 24, 2016

EBSCO Alerts

ebscoFirst, the alert for virtual school.

1. TI- Students with Special Health Care Needs in K-12 Virtual Schools.
AU- Fernandez, Heidi1 heidi.fernandez@trident.edu
AU- Ferdig, Richard E.2 rferdig@kent.edu
AU- Thompson, Lindsay A.3 lathom@ufl.edu
AU- Schottke, Katherine2 kschottke@kent.edu
AU- Black, Erik W.3 ewblack@peds.ufl.edu
JN- Journal of Educational Technology & Society
PD- Jan2016, Vol. 19 Issue 1, p67-75
PG- 9p
DT- 20160101
PT- Article
AB- This study sought to establish a baseline for understanding the epidemiology of online K-12 students with special health care needs, determine the prevalence in K-12 online schooling of students from certain racial/ethnic backgrounds, those with socioeconomic disadvantages, and determine how these students perform in online classes compared to their prior experiences in traditional, face-to-face programs. Data from two different studies was used to address these questions with the goal to support virtual K-12 schools, blended programs, and teachers as they continue to implement best practices for all students. Students with special health care needs attending virtual school are underrepresented in the literature. A possible explanation is that these students are not identified. However, current research suggests that high-risk students, with or without a disability, are choosing virtual school as a viable option (Cavanaugh, Repetto, & Wayer, 2011). The Children with Special Health Care Needs screener can be used to identify these students in order to provide support beyond their Individualized Education Program (IEP). Students who need extra support, self-pacing, or cannot attend school physically can potentially benefit from virtual schooling. [ABSTRACT FROM AUTHOR]
AB- Copyright of Journal of Educational Technology & Society is the property of International Forum of Educational Technology & Society (IFETS) and its content may not be copied or emailed to multiple sites or posted to a listserv without the copyright holder’s express written permission. However, users may print, download, or email articles for individual use. This abstract may be abridged. No warranty is given about the accuracy of the copy. Users should refer to the original published version of the material for the full abstract. (Copyright applies to all Abstracts.)
DE- VIRTUAL schools
DE- RESEARCH
DE- SPECIAL needs students
DE- EDUCATION — Research
DE- WEB-based instruction
DE- INDIVIDUALIZED education programs
KW- Child with special health care needs screener
KW- K-12 learning
KW- Online education
KW- Students with special health care needs
KW- Virtual schools
IC- 923110 Administration of Education Programs
IC- 611710 Educational Support Services
IC- 611699 All Other Miscellaneous Schools and Instruction
AD- 1College of Education, Trident University International
AD- 2Research Center for Educational Technology, Kent State University
AD- 3College of Medicine, University of Florida
IS- 14364522
AN- 112223277

Next, I did receive the alert for cyber school, but there were no relevant items.

Finally, the alert for K-12 online learning.

1. TI- Job Attainment and Perceived Role Differences of Cyberschool Leaders.
AU- Richardson, Jayson W.1 jayson.richardson@uky.edu
AU- Beck, Dennis2 debeck@uark.edu
AU- LaFrance, Jason3 jlafrance@flsouthern.edu
AU- McLeod, Scott4 dr.scott.mcleod@gmail.com
JN- Journal of Educational Technology & Society
PD- Jan2016, Vol. 19 Issue 1, p211-222
PG- 12p
DT- 20160101
PT- Article
AB- As cyberschooling options expand, it is vital that we understand the nuances of these particular learning opportunities. Because little research exists on leaders of K-12 cyberschools, this exploratory case study had two purposes. We first examined how 18 cyberschool leaders in the United States obtained their position. Second, we explored the perceptions of cyberschool leaders regarding the differences between their job and that of a traditional brick-and-mortar school leader. We found that cyberschool leaders tend to be predominantly new, technology savvy administrators who have some background in online learning. Main differences between cyberschool leadership and brick-and-mortar school leadership included interactions with students, teacher supervision, provision of professional development, and management of the day-to-day operations. [ABSTRACT FROM AUTHOR]
AB- Copyright of Journal of Educational Technology & Society is the property of International Forum of Educational Technology & Society (IFETS) and its content may not be copied or emailed to multiple sites or posted to a listserv without the copyright holder’s express written permission. However, users may print, download, or email articles for individual use. This abstract may be abridged. No warranty is given about the accuracy of the copy. Users should refer to the original published version of the material for the full abstract. (Copyright applies to all Abstracts.)
DE- CYBERSCHOOLS
DE- RESEARCH
DE- DISTANCE education — Research
DE- EDUCATION
DE- CAREER development
DE- SOCIAL interaction
DE- EDUCATIONAL leadership
KW- Cyberschool
KW- K-12 online learning
KW- Principals
IC- 624310 Vocational Rehabilitation Services
IC- 611430 Professional and Management Development Training
IC- 611699 All Other Miscellaneous Schools and Instruction
IC- 923110 Administration of Education Programs
IC- 611710 Educational Support Services
AD- 1Department of Educational Leadership Studies, University of Kentucky, USA
AD- 2Department of Curriculum and Instruction, University of Arkansas, USA
AD- 3Department of Leadership, Technology & Human Development, Florida Southern College, USA
AD- 4Prairie Lakes Area Education Agency, Iowa, USA
IS- 14364522
AN- 112223288

January 23, 2016

Virtual Schooling in the News

InTheNewsBeginning with the ASCD SmartBrief.

Should schools replace snow days with e-learning days?

snow day
(Louisa Gouliamaki/AFP/Getty Images)

Some school districts nationwide — including in Indiana, Alabama and Ohio — have adopted e-learning days. The move allows districts to minimize the number of extra days tacked onto the school calendar at the end of the year for snow days and professional-development days for educators.
Education Dive (1/15)

Similarly, the SmartBrief for EdTech.

Schools turn snow days into learning days

snow
(Pixabay)

Some schools along the East Coast already have closed in preparation for a historic winter storm. Many teachers are encouraging students not to take a break from learning, with some sending students homework packets or posting assignments online. The Washington Post (tiered subscription model) (1/21)

Back to the regular Google news alert for virtual school.

Virtual school request denied

The Missouri Department of Elementary and Secondary Education has denied the Monett school district’s request to hold virtual school in place of …

Virtual school informational meetings set for Jan. 20, Feb. 8

Families interested in learning about the possibility of enrolling their child in an online-only school can learn about Iowa’s two public options during …

How much it costs to send your child to private school and university in SA

We, Southern African Virtual School, offer a full academic program which would come in way below the Private School pricing and even the former …

Virtual school informational meetings set for Jan. 20, Feb. 8

Both virtual schools offer a K-12 program, and families can choose to open enroll into the online schools like they would for a traditional public school.

Florida Virtual School students visit Crestview zoo

CRESTVIEW — Teachers, parents and students from Florida Virtual School Full Time recently visited Emerald Coast Wildlife Refuge Zoological Park …

Virtual school fills gaps, offers more classes

The North Carolina Virtual Public School is allowing Vance County Schools to offer classes that aren’t available in the brick and mortar classroom and …

Virtual school request denied

The Missouri Department of Elementary and Secondary Education has denied the Monett school district’s request to hold virtual school in place of …

Report: New Mexico charter schools cost more, perform same

The state evaluation raised specific concerns about costs and performance at so-called virtual charter schools that provide remote online courses.

Haley proposes loans for schools, teacher initiatives

Nikki Haley on Wednesday announced plans to help rural schools. MELISSA C. … Add $1 million to expand the state’s virtual school. Last school year …

Haley proposes teacher initiatives, borrowing for schools

—Add $1 million to expand the state’s virtual school. Last school year, nearly 40,000 students statewide took a course through the online program, …

Online school gets state OK to open in fall

Arkansas Connections is now the second statewide virtual school. Arkansas Virtual Academy opened in 2007 and serves 1,729 students, according to …

Pike County BOE honored with reception

Approved permission to adopt Virtual School Option Policy 4.9. • Approved permission for Pike County High School students Emily Caple and Zylon …

Athens’ virtual school now has a place to call home

The on-line school now has an actual building where students can go for tutoring or meetings. Renaissance was the first free and completely on-line …

Virtual tour of Buckingham Palace launched by Google

Using a smartphone and a cardboard viewer, you will be able to go on what Google is calling a “virtual school trip” around Buckingham Palace.

SC education agency requests $480 million more for school districts

Shannon Erickson, R-Beaufort, said she to support the virtual school expansion, she wanted students in impoverished, rural school districts to benefit.

Matters of Choice: Florida – A Hot Spot For School Choice

… cross-zone school attendance, cross-county attendance if a students in a nearby failing district, private schools, county-wide virtual school- and a …

Tennessee bill would close some virtual schools

“It’s a bill designed to ban the sort of virtual school operated by K-12 Inc., … locally such as the Metropolitan Nashville Public School Virtual School.

Virtual charter schools in Broward, Palm Beach could close following audits

An audit committee for Broward County schools recommended Thursday that the district terminate its contract with Florida Virtual Academy at Broward, …

Snow day? Not for Transylvania County students

One parent told McDaris, via Twitter, that the virtual school day was working. “After hours on his work, his son said he’s rather just be in school.”.

PHOTOS: Big Bang science day at Holy Trinity School

At this year’s event, students experienced a planetarium, made electric cookie dough, experienced a jellybean wave machine, built a virtual school …

Chromebooks off to a good start at St. Croix Central Middle School

… enrollment purposes for the 2016-17 year. The why, explained Widiker, was the district doesn’t want to limit itself when it comes to its virtual school.

Finally, the Google news alert for cyber school.

Search for the 2016 Best and Brightest high school seniors is underway

Seniors must attend a public or independent high school or be home-schooled or attend cyber school in Adams, Cumberland, Dauphin, Franklin, …

GCHQ to stage ‘summer school’ in Manchester to spy out potential young recruits

The UK’s eavesdropping agency is branching out from its HQ in Cheltenham and will hold a ‘cyber school’ in the city this summer for school leavers …

Should Harrisburg School District reopen another vacant school? Enrollment study seeks answers

… which also was closed for some time, now houses the district’s administrative offices and Cougar Academy, the district’s cyber school service.

Charges filed against 3 boys accused of harassing Linton Middle School student

However, she said the three boys who were charged remain in school while her daughter is still out and attending cyber school.

Commonwealth Connections Academy hosts forensic science event

The statewide cyber- school’s STEM Conservatory Manager Kurt Amen guided 30 sixth- to 12th-grade students from the region through various “crime …

Schools prepare for possible snow days

Deb Roush with PCSSD says soon their students will have cyber school as well. “We are still nine schools away from every student having that device, …

Number of home-schooled students growing across state

“Cyber school is public school done at home on a computer with none of the Pennsylvania Department of Education oversight and no input from the …

January 17, 2016

EBSCO Alerts

ebscoFirst, I did not receive the alert for virtual school.

Next, the alert for cyber school had this item.

1. TI- Focus on Technology: Virtual Charter Schools in the United States.
AU- Morgan, Hani1
JN- Childhood Education
PD- Jan/Feb2016, Vol. 92 Issue 1, p92-94
PG- 3p
DT- 20160101
PT- Article
AB- The article discusses the poor performance of virtual charter schools or online or cyber schools whose organizers usually assign teachers to teach high numbers of students and sometimes hire less qualified instructors as most operate primarily to profit and use cost-effective tactics. It notes that for profit virtual charter schools often use advertisements claiming they provide high-quality education in order to attract students and increase their revenues.
DE- VIRTUAL schools
DE- CHARTER schools
DE- ORGANIZATIONAL performance
DE- DISTANCE education
DE- EARLY childhood education
IC- 923110 Administration of Education Programs
IC- 611699 All Other Miscellaneous Schools and Instruction
AD- 1Education Curriculum, Instruction, and Special Education, University of Southern Mississippi, Hattiesburg, Mississippi
IS- 00094056
DI- 10.1080/00094056.2016.1134254
AN- 112043221

Finally, I did not receive the alert for K-12 online learning.

January 16, 2016

Virtual Schooling in the News

InTheNewsBeginning with the SmartBrief for EdTech.

Tech helps keep homebound students learning

student, homeschooling
(Hoang Dinh Nam/AFP/Getty Images)

Technology is expanding opportunities for students with chronic illnesses to attend school. Officials from three school districts share how they have made “telepresence” work for students and teachers.
EdTech magazine online (1/8)

Report focuses on best practices for online, blended learning

learning, technology
(Sean Gallup/Getty Images)

Student attendance and active participation is one of the three top ways to measure the quality of an online or blended-learning program, said school leaders surveyed for the fourth annual Fuel Education Benchmark Study. The report offers insights about blended and online programs.
eSchool News (free registration) (1/8)

Other News

Back to the regular Google News alert for virtual school.

Bryan Setser Named Chief Design Officer Of Matchbook Learning; Spearheading Design And Roll …

“As one of the architects of the ‘digerati’ movement in public education, he revitalized and transformed the North Carolina Virtual School into a national …

K12 Inc. Tries to Pivot from Virtual School Failures to Profit from “Non-Management” of Schools

If you were a public school and Wall Street didn’t like you that might not seem like such a big deal. What do financiers know about educating children?

Florida Virtual School Taps Private Partner for Adaptive Learning

Florida Virtual School (FLVS) is teaming with a private partner to provide personalized learning for its students. FLVS will partner with Knewton, which …

Melrose-Mindoro set to expand virtual school coursework

Mel-Min began offering virtual school course offerings last school year, but the initiative was smaller than originally planned because the Cooperative …

Virtual charter school in Maine struggling to retain students

The Maine Charter School Commission weighs applications to open new schools in 2016 during a meeting in Augusta in this November 2015 file …

Maine Virtual Academy charter school says 25 percent of its students withdrew since it opened this …

AUGUSTA — Maine’s newest charter school, Maine Virtual Academy, has seen 25 percent of its student body withdraw from the school since it …

New Hampshire Virtual School Sets up Learning Pathways

An online charter school in New Hampshire is quintupling down on flexibility in how its students structure their learning. The Virtual Learning Academy …

Sal Khan’s virtual-educational revolution goes physical with new Silicon Valley school

Asked why he’s started this very non-virtual school, seemingly a counterintuitive move for a guy who’s all about learning and teaching online, Khan …

Could Silicon Valley virtual charter’s all-inclusive model revolutionize the space?

At the virtual Silicon Valley High School, 19 low-cost supplementary high school courses are offered to students, teachers, and parents in subjects …

NC Virtual Charter Schools See High Withdrawal Rates

Twenty percent of students who enrolled in the state’s first virtual charter schools left before the end of the semester, according to a report from the …

I-Team: School choice isn’t real option mom claims

He’s enrolled in a virtual school as part of a school credit recovery program. … Charles lives in Colleton County where there is one high school. A high …

Editorial: District rebranding campaign leaves a sour mark

… four combined elementary-middle schools, four combined middle-high schools, 11 combined K-12 schools (including virtual school), a pair of Head …

Edmentum Receives ISTE Seal of Alignment

EdOptions Academy is a fully accredited virtual school that partners with schools and districts to deliver rigorous, research-based, and pedagogically …

High school graduation rates rise again for NY students

… in 2013-14 to 75.8 percent in 2014-15, it increased at East Ridge, Lake Minneola, Leesburg and Mount Dora high schools and Lake Virtual School.

Virtual school fills gaps, offers more classes

The North Carolina Virtual Public School is allowing Vance County Schools to offer classes that aren’t available in the brick and mortar classroom and …

Montclair BOE Reviews Audit Findings, Special Services and PARCC Results

School tours was discussed briefly stating that it should be clear that while the board will be proceeding with offering parent’s virtual school tours …

Graduation rates up for five local school systems

Superintendent Johnny Yates said the district’s virtual school, which gives students an opportunity for credit recovery, and the alternative school are …

Online school gets state OK to open in fall

Arkansas Connections is now the second statewide virtual school. Arkansas Virtual Academy opened in 2007 and serves 1,729 students, according to …

Haley proposes teacher initiatives, borrowing for schools

—Add $1 million to expand the state’s virtual school. Last school year, nearly 40,000 students statewide took a course through the online program, …

Florida Virtual School students visit Crestview zoo

CRESTVIEW — Teachers, parents and students from Florida Virtual School Full Time recently visited Emerald Coast Wildlife Refuge Zoological Park …

St. Johns County School District names top teachers, rookies

Teacher of the Year nominees represent 35 district schools, one alternative center, one charter school and St. Johns Virtual School. The overall winner …

Haley proposes loans for schools, teacher initiatives

Add $1 million to expand the state’s virtual school. Last school year, nearly 40,000 students statewide took a course through the online program, …

Finally, the Google News alert for cyber school.

Benton High School looking into cyber snow days

Last year the Benton School District took seven snow days, but now that every high school student will have a school-issued laptop at home starting …

Search for the 2016 Best and Brightest high school seniors is underway

Seniors must attend a public or independent high school or be home-schooled or attend cyber school in Adams, Cumberland, Dauphin, Franklin, …
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