Life Inside a Virtual Education Mill- Part 1

National Data on Growing Charter School control by CMOs (non-profit)  and EMOs (for-profit) management providers for years 2007-2008, 2008-2009 and 2009-2010

GA's heard that NJ Governor Christie and Education Commissioner Cerf are quietly pushing the privatization of  NJ public-Charter schools at the NJDOE level - amendments to pending charter legislation are being voted on June 6th. 

Whatever language this is cloaked in, this is a move to turn public-Charters into for-profit education mills for politically-connected corporations.  With our (taxpayer) money; typically, these Education Management Organizations (EMOs) get 10% of the Charter's education budget.

One corporate beneficiary in NJ is rumored to be K12, Inc, the nation's largest EMO and 'virtual' charter provider.  K12, Inc. was founded by William Bennett, Ronald Reagan's Education Secretary, Michael Milken and Ron Packard in 1999. 

GA hears that 5 (K12, Inc.) virtual charters are 'on the boards' at the NJDOE for September, although they are  in violation of existing charter law- now.

More about K12, from Wikipedia:
The New York Times investigated K12. They concluded that K12 squeezes profits from public school funding by raising enrollment, increasing teacher workload, and lowering standards.

[2] The Washington Post raised similar questions. A study at Western Michigan University and the National Education Policy Center found that only a third of K12’s schools achieved adequate yearly progress, which is required for public schools by the federal No Child Left Behind legislation.Proponents point out that such statistics are undermined by the fact that a significant amount of newly-enrolled students begin several grade levels behind due to the failure of brick and mortar schools.

 According to the Times, "By almost every educational measure, the Agora Cyber Charter School is failing." In Pennsylvania, 42% of Agora students tested at grade level or better in math, compared with 75% of students statewide. 52% of Agora students tested at grade level or better in reading, compared to 72% statewide. Nonetheless, Agora brought K12 $72 million in the 2011 school year, or more than 10% of K12's revenue.

School officials said that early development of children requires interaction with other children for socialization, learning collaboration and teamwork, and self-definition. This is missing in online schools, they said. Proponents say that social interaction is healthier and more reflective of life when it takes place among a mixed-age group as found in the after-school activities that many online students regularly participate in.

Despite lower costs, online schools charge states almost as much as traditional schools. Schools use that money to pay for advertising and lobbying state officials. K12 spent $26.5 million in advertising in 2010. K12 and its employees contributed nearly $500,000 to state political candidates from 2004 to 2010. K12 has contributed money to organizations like Pennsylvania Families for Public Cyber Schools, which lobbied for online schools. In Ohio, an organization founded by a K12 official hired temp agency workers to demonstrate with signs against state representative Steven Dryer, who challenged their funding. 
GA will have more about this company- from those who work there- for an insider's perspective on their aspirations and values.

So you can see what this (real) corporate takeover of public education looks like.

Here is more data from the National Alliance for Public Charter Schools report that clearly shows that for-profit managed public Charters are the lowest-performing nationwide.

click HERE to enlarge