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One major phenomenon that has blossomed as part the corporatization of education in the two most recent presidential administrations is that of virtual charter schools -  schools with no mortar and brick buildings, or building of any kind.  The teachers and students communicate in virtual space.  In some cases these schools receive as much public funding per student as would a traditional public school, but without the heavy expenses for maintaining a physical plant, including light, heat and water, janitorial staff and supplies, and so on.

The most important single virtual charter chain is K12, the Education Management Organization (EMO) established by former hedge fund banker Ronald Packard, whose major investors included convicted junk bond dealer Michael Milken, his borther Lowell, Andrew Tisch of Loews, and Larry Ellison of Oracle, and which was headed for a while by former Secretary of Education William Bennett.

You can read a fair amount at the Wikipedia article on K12.  What is important to note is that according to this analysis, in the 2009-2010 school year K12 had a total of 49 schools under its management with an enrollment of 65,396 students.  

But numbers cannot fully describe what an entity such as K12 is really like, either for the students or for the adults who work in such an institution.

The purpose of this diary is to point you at a post which will.

Anthony Cody, with whom I have worked closely on a number of educational issues over the past few years, is one of the regular bloggers for Education Week / Teacher.  Periodically he will turn his Living in Dialogue space over to others for a guest post.  My title comes from this guest post by Darcy Bedortha, who for the 15 months of the title taught in a K12 virtual school.

What I want you to do is to use this post to make Bedortha's post more widely known.

Let me explain why.

Bedortha will give you the background of the company, as well as some data on how much some are profiting from this endeavor.

Allow me to offer a few selections from Bedortha's post, with permission of Anthony Cody, to give you a sense.  I will not in these selections bother with the relevant hot links, because ultimately I do want you to read the original.

Given the extensive needs of the students, this set up does not serve them well. Most of my contact with students was by email, through which I answered questions about everything from login issues and technology glitches to clarifying of assignments, and even that communication was only accessed by a very small percentage of students.

In addition, because students continuously enroll, no one was on the same assignment at the same time. I taught high school English. In a given day in mid-November I would grade introductory assignments, diagnostic essays and end-of-semester projects, and everything in between, for each course (this month I had 30 separate courses). I found it to be impossible to meet the learning needs of my students in that situation.

I am a firm believer in providing individuation for my students -  they do not all do exactly the same thing.  Still, my variance is within the framework of one course / prep for a class full of students.  What is being described here is something else, something where effectively each student is a separate preparation.  Further, while SOME students can be very successful in learning in a fashion that is a point connection with the teacher and little if any contact with fellow students, for most students there is a benefit to the social aspects of learning in a group.  While it is possible to achieve SOME of this in a chat room, or by exchanges on a blog, that lacks of of the spontaneity and the instant nature of exchanges among students within a classroom.

Note especially what Bedortha says about being unable to meet the learning needs of her students.  That is a primary responsibility of the adult teacher, and anything that interferes with that is denying that child a complete opportunity to learn.

Then consider this:

Teachers who work for K12 Inc. are not well compensated for all their scrambling. At my former school, teachers are paid based on the number of students on their rosters. With 225 students they are still part-time (at .75 FTE), for which the pay is $31,500 a year. With 226 students they become full time employees, and will then be paid $42,000. Some full-time teachers now carry loads of well over 300 students. Even considering other expenses (but noting that these schools have no building or transportation costs), it is clear to me that K12 is generating considerable profits from the student/teacher ratio and compensation scheme.
I have NEVER had 225 students. The most I ever had was 198.  And when I began, albeit with a Masters + 30 additional credits, in 1995-96, I was paid 35,000/year.   Thus K12 teachers are clearly underpaid for the responsibility of teaching that many students.

Allow me to offer one more selection:  

I believe K12 Inc. targets poor communities and economically struggling regions; they are easily influenced because they are desperately seeking alternatives to devastatingly under-funded schools. These financially strapped schools are being further bled by the exodus of students who are lured by what I now see are empty promises of marketing experts at K12 Inc. It is a vicious cycle in which, as far as I can see, no one but the corporate profiteers are winning, and that is no wonder to me: K12 Inc. has worked closely with the American Legislative Exchange Council, which has lobbied extensively for draft legislation to expand virtual education in 39 states or territories, potentially further crippling the financial status of public schools whose funds they siphon.
By now increasing numbers of Americans have learned of the damage done by ALEC, whether it is Stand Your Ground laws in Florida or stripping pensions from public workers in Wisconsin or any of the other initiatives that are destroying the fabric of American society.

Since K12 - like many similar operators - targets communities of color and/or poverty, the dispossessed and disempowered, they depend on not facing the fierce opposition they would encounter were they seeking to impose this on communities full of white middle class families.  

Oh, and with the profits they pocket they send their own children to brick and mortar elite schools that provide a more meaningful education, where the teachers have reasonable numbers of students to teach, where the curricula and materials and strategies they impose while making their profits are no where to be seen - not for "their" kids, only for the kids of those "other folks" - in Lisa Delpit's phrase, "Other People's Children."

Bedortha has done this nation a favor in writing her guest post, as has Anthony Cody by putting it up.  I am now, at Anthony's request, trying to magnify the reach of this important article by exploring it here and urging others to read it.

You can help in that process if you agree with me on the importance of Bedortha's piece by keeping this diary visible, perhaps by tweeting it or emailing friends.

At a minimum, make sure people you know read the original.

We have an opportunity to push back at the profiteers who are destroying the public commons, starting with the public schools.

We have a chance to save a democratic republic in which public education is seen as a social responsibility, not a barrier to people profiting at the public teat regardless of the impact upon those affected by such schools.  Our children should be a treasure to the nation, not profit centers for the greedy.


Originally posted to teacherken on Tue Jan 07, 2014 at 03:31 PM PST.

Also republished by Teachers Lounge and American Legislative Transparency Project.

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Comment Preferences

  •  Tip Jar (178+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    divineorder, Adiamante, Mostel26, Shockwave, markdd, Aaa T Tudeattack, hwy70scientist, bastrop, PatriciaVa, tardis10, cardboardurinal, leeleedee, la motocycliste, hnichols, Liberty Equality Fraternity and Trees, lcrp, AaronBa, virginwoolf, Tonedevil, middleagedhousewife, Buckeye54, Man Oh Man, roses, Laura Wnderer, jadt65, mph2005, Expat Okie, Heiuan, ladybug53, Azazello, banjolele, mystique mist, wader, Shrew in Shrewsbury, WakeUpNeo, Sixty Something, slowbutsure, Gowrie Gal, LeftHandedMan, pvasileff, Alumbrados, TracieLynn, grimjc, denise b, GeorgeXVIII, DRo, wildweasels, Bmeis, kerflooey, monkeybrainpolitics, Vatexia, linkage, BadKitties, IndieGuy, Susan S, jbsoul, philipmerrill, Dirtandiron, turdraker, Lily O Lady, cocinero, Betty Pinson, Lujane, tofumagoo, molecularlevel, Jollie Ollie Orange, Ruh Roh, TheGreatLeapForward, portorcliff, where4art, StateofEuphoria, jguzman17, jayden, barbwires, Lefty Ladig, basquebob, WiseFerret, Involuntary Exile, Square Knot, annieli, tommyfocus2003, Jim P, greengemini, dotsright, fiercefilms, CalBearMom, ArchTeryx, sap, doingbusinessas, Nailbanger, Laurel in CA, fixxit, Cofcos, bkamr, Rosaura, tin woodswoman, Ckntfld, Steven D, anodnhajo, Alice Venturi, slatsg, exNYinTX, Actbriniel, JVolvo, Garfnobl, tubacat, DWG, Ohiodem1, Egalitare, cassidy3, Tinfoil Hat, radarlady, magnetics, MartyM, Brian B, OhioNatureMom, Sandino, FrY10cK, gulfgal98, berko, copymark, Syoho, 207wickedgood, TomFromNJ, CTDemoFarmer, Rick B, livjack, Anne was here, dannyboy1, petestern, StrayCat, Temmoku, METAL TREK, theKgirls, blue91, Heart of the Rockies, papercut, greenbastard, TomP, jrooth, Ohkwai, Oldowan, whaddaya, zerelda, Powered Grace, bronte17, dicentra, Robynhood too, mofembot, caryltoo, todamo13, annan, DFWmom, wishingwell, sostos, Texas78704, Arahahex, BlueMississippi, Dodgerdog1, political mutt, old wobbly, Assaf, Barbara Marquardt, travelerxxx, cpresley, Dragon5616, Dana Bennis, IowaBiologist, rapala, George3, takatobimasu, FlyingToaster, Julie Steinhaus, spritegeezer, Oh Mary Oh, 2dot, SphericalXS, PSzymeczek

    "We didn't set out to save the world; we set out to wonder how other people are doing and to reflect on how our actions affect other people's hearts." - Pema Chodron

    by teacherken on Tue Jan 07, 2014 at 03:31:01 PM PST

  •  All in (53+ / 0-)
    We have an opportunity to push back at the profiteers who are destroying the public commons, starting with the public schools.

    We have a chance to save a democratic republic in which public education is seen as a social responsibility, not a barrier to people profiting at the public teat regardless of the impact upon those affected by such schools.  Our children should be a treasure to the nation, not profit centers for the greedy.

    Move Single Payer Forward? Join 18,000 Doctors of PNHP and 185,000 member National Nurses United

    by divineorder on Tue Jan 07, 2014 at 03:39:15 PM PST

  •  Are there any stats on the effectiveness of... (27+ / 0-)

    ...virtual schools?  Do they exist in other countries?

    I find the whole thing bizarre.

    It's sort of computer enhanced home schooling, right?

    Daily Kos an oasis of truth. Truth that leads to action.

    by Shockwave on Tue Jan 07, 2014 at 03:51:20 PM PST

    •  some details in report in 3rd link (26+ / 0-)

      which is a pdf of almost 300 pp

      so far no evidence they are effective even on basis of test scores

      read Bedortha's post and you will understand why

      "We didn't set out to save the world; we set out to wonder how other people are doing and to reflect on how our actions affect other people's hearts." - Pema Chodron

      by teacherken on Tue Jan 07, 2014 at 03:58:05 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

    •  yes (53+ / 0-)

      and if they meet state requirements they can be compensated through Fed/State funding the same as a brick and mortar school.

      This entire scheme should be illegal.

      These people are investors who saw a mart funded by public dollars and are exploiting it. They have no interest in education, they have an interest in tapping a monetary resource.


      I have been a public school teacher (HS,Middle,Elementary) since 1997. I would never work for a district that did not compensate fairly, and I have turned down jobs, even when I needed one, because of that. I would certainly never work under these conditions.

      Teaching is a hard job. Not everyone is cut out for it. But, like doctors with their hippocratic oath to do no harm, teachers make an implicit agreement with their students to do everything in their power to help the student succeed in learning. It IS what teaching is at it's core.

      If you can not do that, you should not teach, and that can be a very hard thing to do commit to day in and day out. There are times in the year it is grueling.

      Likewise, f you can not provide a context for your school, you have no business running one.

      This should be illegal. I can not say this enough. It is immoral, unethical and exploitative.

    •  According to the referenced article, (6+ / 0-)
      According to a July 2012 report published by the NEPC ... only 27.7 percent of K12, Inc. schools met the Annual Yearly Progress goals, as compared to 52 percent of brick and mortar public schools (Miron & Urschel, 2012) ...  37.6 percent of students at full-time virtual schools graduate on time, as compared to the national average of 79.4 percent for all public high school students ...

      In addition, CEO Ronald Packard was named in a 2012 class action complaint citing his alleged false statements regarding student performance and K12, Inc.'s "aggressive tactics" to recruit and enroll students in effort to cover up the 40-60 percent turnover rate (the parties reached a tentative $6.75 million settlement agreement in March 2013).

      That shared, reading the comments, a couple of responders made interesting points regarding homeschooling situations.  A couple of parents who are homeschooling wrote to say that the virtual schools were vital resources for them.  One of these 2 parents made the point that the virtual schooling experience was only as good as the parent who is at home overseeing the educational process.  If the parent at home is fully engaged and involved, it can be a good option, but if there isn't such a person at home for the student, then see the results above.

      Plutocracy (noun) Greek ploutokratia, from ploutos wealth; 1) government by the wealthy; 2) 21st c. U.S.A.; 3) 22nd c. The World

      by bkamr on Tue Jan 07, 2014 at 10:34:39 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

    •  Sounds like less than that. (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      wishingwell, annan

      Many home schoolers have capable, engaged parents directing their education in person.

      Can't put my finger on a link at the moment, but I've read many times that one of the major benefits of universal publication education being adopted in the late 19th century was socialization.  Kids learned how to behave in a civil society.

      •  Hah!!! (0+ / 0-)

        I have kids in public school, and I wouldn't consider "civil society" to be an accurate description of what goes on there.

        Both my kids and I are often horrified at the behavior of kids at their school, which seems to persist and does not get corrected.    It does not appear to me that they are learning "civil" behavior.   Have you heard of what a bullying problem there is at school?    

        I guess, if you call throwing kids into a room full of mean kids to get picked on mercilessly, learning to live in "civil society", sort of like throwing a kid into a pool and telling them "sink or swim", you might make that argument.

        •  Addicts and children, raising children... (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:

          Listening to the radio on the way home last night there was a great conversation going on about the behavior of students.  A woman called in that dealt with children with behavioral problems, that said, children born to addicts in the 80's who had no upbringing themselves then had their own children and raised them without knowing anything about what to do with children.  Then add to the equation that many of them were still children themselves when they had their children.  She suggested that every school should have behavioral classes because there are so many that need to learn what good behavior is.  

          •  Yes, it is a problem (2+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            idocrase, MaryAskew

            Providing quality low cost or free care for children at an early age could help to alleviate this problem.   My kids learned much civility in their early life from our registered daycare provider, as well as from us.     Low quality care, however, would simply perpetuate the problem.

            U.S. Kids get free daytime care, combined with education, starting around kindergarten, where teachers must teach some civility to kids who never learned it, in desperation, because there's no other way to get children ready to learn.  But, there is a gap from birth to K, except  headstart which is often not available to  those who need it due to transportation issues or  not enough slots being available.

            Kids who learn the wrong lessons from their parents seem to do worse than kids who didn't learn anything at all, because there is pressure from the parents to continue to behave that way.  It might help, if these parents were offered daycare, so the kids could learn early that standards of behavior may be situational, that in certain settings, special rules may apply that they did not  learn at home.

            I do know kids who do well academically, and behave well in school, despite issues of drug use, poverty, homelessness, domestic violence, being born to teen parents, etc.    All real life examples, and real life kids I'm thinking of.   There are kids in those situations that seem to behave the best, among all my daughter's friends, because they are most appreciative of whatever opportunities they are given.   They notice what I do for them, thank me for it, follow my directions, and offer to help when work needs doing, far more than some of the more "spoiled" kids.   They are motivated to fit in and get some better opportunities, and they understand better than many kids how education could free them from some of the problems they face at home.    They've learned to network out of sheer survival instinct, because they've spent so long living life on the edge.  In the most economically disadvantaged families that I know, there is an awareness of how a lack of college education negatively impacted their lives, and there is a strong focus on getting that education for their kids.   The parent of one friend cried, when she said her mother forced her to leave school and go to work in the tenth grade.

            I will say, in one case, the girl is doing pretty well, and the boy seems to be at risk.   It's possible that there may be a disproportionate effect for some kids.

            And, I've seen middle class kids whose parents don't seem to do drugs or have obvious problems, acting inappropriately, bullying, etc, in ways that caused the other kids not to like them.    One was even a teacher's kid.    

            So, I'm not going to blame drug users.  There's more to it.

        •  Well, have you any knowledge of (0+ / 0-)

          public behavior in the 1870's?  I know first hand as an educator and parent what can go on in a public school classroom, but I was talking about 150 years ago.  You don't think we've made any progress?

        •  The answer cannot be isolation (0+ / 0-)

          If the reason for keeping your child home is because he or she cannot deal with bullying; you are doing a great disservice to your children.
          Almost every school system has some criteria concerning steps to take if a child is being bullied.
          In many cases it's not the physical bullying which strikes the hardest and there are very few actions that can be taken regarding cyber-bullying.
          The reason I stated isolating your child due to bullying is a disservice is; bullying doesn't stop after graduation. Your child will never learn the coping skills needed to deal with Workplace Bullying and Harassment.
          The laws designed to protect someone from being harassed by a superior or coworker at work are not there because sometime in the future we may have to deal with harassment. They are there because sometime in the past, harassment took place an there were no protections.

          "If you tell the truth, you won't have to remember anything", Mark Twain

          by Cruzankenny on Fri Jan 10, 2014 at 07:03:11 AM PST

          [ Parent ]

          •  I don't agree (0+ / 0-)

            I don't agree that not going to school is "isolation".   We don't lock our kids in the basement.   They go to activities, many go to church (mine don't), to private extracurricular lessons, to local events, to informal activities with neighborhood kids.   And, we have more opportunities to travel, sometimes taking her friends with us when they are off school.

            Institutionalization is not the only option for a child.   We think it's the "best" because it's what we've all become accustomed to.    

            I also feel that people are more likely to be able to cope with bullying as they grow older, and it is best to remove them from the bullying environment in childhood.  Remember, the peers get older too, and many outgrow their bullying ways, and adults have greater freedom to just change their venue and escape from bullying.   Schools cause a huge problem because there is nowhere to escape to.  Adults have more of a choice.

      •  Yes as a psychologist and former teacher myself (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Dragon5616, Heart of the Rockies

        I agree completely.  Nothing can replace the structure, socialization,  cooperation,  the study skills, the life skills, that one can receive through a good public school education.

        Keystone Liberals on Twitter @ KeystoneLibs , Join PA Liberals at

        by wishingwell on Wed Jan 08, 2014 at 09:07:59 AM PST

        [ Parent ]

  •  Added the tag 'Education' :-) n/t (13+ / 0-)

    Fry, don't be a hero! It's not covered by our health plan!

    by elfling on Tue Jan 07, 2014 at 03:53:42 PM PST

  •  San Jose University terminated its experiment w/ (25+ / 0-)

    Udacity (MOOC), citing poor results.

    Learn about Centrist Economics, learn about Robert Rubin's Hamilton Project.

    by PatriciaVa on Tue Jan 07, 2014 at 04:04:02 PM PST

  •  Is K12 really a charter? (5+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    bastrop, BadKitties, Lujane, DWG, Dragon5616

    I've heard of it because so many homeschoolers use it. It is used most often by folks who seem to plan to put their kids back in public school and for some reason have removed them for a time. They think K12 will enable them to keep up with the system. Most progressive homeschoolers hate the program but it seems to provide a solution for some.

    Does it fit in with the many paths idea of education and should be on offer for those who find a benefit? Or should it be taken away altogether?

    •  From Wiki (34+ / 0-)
      K12 Inc. is a for-profit education company that sells online schooling and curriculum to state and local governments. Its educational products and services are designed as alternatives to traditional "bricks and mortar" education for public school students from kindergarten to 12th grade. K12 is a publicly traded education management organization (EMO) that provides online education services to charter school students. It is paid for from taxes.[3] K12 is the largest EMO in terms of enrollment.[4]
      The company manages state-funded virtual charter schools and hybrid schools in 29 U.S. states and the District of Columbia.[10] Schools and districts wishing to offer full-time online programs, blended programs, or individual courses can purchase curriculum and training services to implement their own programs. Homeschooling families or students who wish to supplement their education with an individual course can purchase the curriculum directly.[10]
      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
      AYP is a fundamental requirement to maintain funding. The design of this company, especially the way they describe themselves, can be confusing.

      They are a publicly traded company whose income stream is public funds.

      This should be illegal.

      If people want to homeschool they have the right and if people want to pursue private educational opportunities they can do that. PUBLIC funds are meant for public schools, not dividends and bottom lines.

    •  homeschool options (19+ / 0-)

      K12 Inc owns and offers a variety of schools - some are charters.  Some of the homeschool families do find success, but in my experience it is purely because those families are devoted.  

      Personally, I think there are better options

      one of the reasons K12 Inc can demand such large class sizes is that the parents ("Learning Coaches") are doing a great deal of the guidance and scaffolding and explaining in half-dozen different ways until a child "gets it" - some families are economically able to have a parent home doing that. Many of my families did not have that luxury. I taught high school - with a few exceptions, most of my students were alone in this.  

      Yes, it can work - but it works half as often as traditional brick and mortar 39% graduate on time - 27% meet AYP - 40-60% turnover...

      we can do better

      •  Welcome to Daily Kos, Darcy (14+ / 0-)

        folks, if you check the name of the person to whom I am responding, you will see it is Darcy Bedortha, whose guest post at Living in Dialogue is the basis of and the reason for my diary

        "We didn't set out to save the world; we set out to wonder how other people are doing and to reflect on how our actions affect other people's hearts." - Pema Chodron

        by teacherken on Wed Jan 08, 2014 at 01:25:26 AM PST

        [ Parent ]

      •  I agree that there are better options. (5+ / 0-)

        I know K12 partially survives because some states fund it as a homeschooling option. We're military and while stationed in Alabama we met several families who have residency in Colorado (but lived at Maxwell AFB). It was a one year assignment so many folks chose to homeschool rather than use the schools in Alabama. Colorado supplied K12 for their residents. Most of the parents were very happy with the program. I felt it was very limited in scope but since most of these families were just looking for a year of education that kept them at a level of the majority of schools in the US (which Alabama was unable to do), it seemed like a good solution for them.

        I hesitate to get rid of any schooling option while so many of our community schools are struggling. I would prefer we put energy into improving community schools (I'm a strong supporter for community based education, especially democratic models that include parents and students) but as a military family, I understand that some families need options that are not always palatable to the majority.

        •  Many of our public schools are being negatively (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:

          impacted by online charter schools draining the already limited resources the state has to offer. From NewsOK in December 2013:

          The state Education Department already has provided several million dollars to the state's two online charter schools, despite questions about the effectiveness of such institutions.

          Now, three additional online charter schools want to join the ranks in Oklahoma as the state Board of Education investigates whether one of the two existing schools may have misrepresented how many full-time students are enrolled.

          Epic One on One charter school, whose practices are being looked into by the Education Department, will receive more than $10 million in state funds this school year. It was founded in 2011 and has about 3,000 enrolled students, Education Department records show.

          Epic One on One enrollment comes complete with a "learning fund" of $800 per student which it describes thusly:
          What can the Learning Fund be used to purchase?

          After price of core curriculum choice is deducted, leftover funds can be used for supplemental curriculum, laptop lease, and extracurricular activities.

          Shipping and handling costs, repair fees and other miscellaneous costs are subject to learning fund expenses as well.

          "Portion of the adolescent prisoners in solitary on Rikers Island who have been diagnosed with a mental illness: 7/10." Tell someone.

          by RJDixon74135 on Wed Jan 08, 2014 at 06:57:53 AM PST

          [ Parent ]

          •  Yes Corbett in PA cuts millions from public (1+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:

            education and so many teachers lost their jobs and school programs were cut and the kids and teachers suffered as a result. It was horribly damaging to PA public schools.

            But instead he wants more funding for cyber education and he is pushing for more parents to get their kids enrolled in online school as he says it is the same as public schooling and free to them.

            Keystone Liberals on Twitter @ KeystoneLibs , Join PA Liberals at

            by wishingwell on Wed Jan 08, 2014 at 09:13:49 AM PST

            [ Parent ]

      •  Please, tell me your options (0+ / 0-)

        My daughter has sensory sensitivies, and fibromyalgia.  She is so sick on many days that she can't even get out of bed.   Having a virtual school allows her to get some work done, even on days when she is sick, even on days when she can't leave the house.     Some days, she cannot even read due to sensory issues.   On a good day, she is only functional at about 60% of a normal kid's energy level.   So, missing days, and then trying to make it up on the next day is not an option.   On many days, she near to 0%.    Pushing her too hard on a "good" day can then cause a flare, that puts her back at 0%.

        Tell me, what is your solution to this problem that is better than virtual school?    Because, I'm living this life, and virtual school seems to fit our needs perfectly.

        Just because an option isn't right for you, doesn't mean it's not the perfect option for someone else.  What we need, in our public education system, are options, so that families can address their own problems, themselves, by making choices that fit their circumstances.

    •  It is a software solution (0+ / 0-)

      Many public and also charter virtual schools, use the web environment that has been created by K12.  I think they also run some virtual schools themselves in some areas.

  •  Arrrgh this pisses me off!!! (30+ / 0-)

    Today was my first day back in the classroom since December 18th and it was a really long day. I takes a lot out of kids and teachers to return to the real world of school after a long winter break. I am tired, some of my classes were not mentally there which means kids were squirrelly, I have planning to do and all I want to do is go to sleep….AFTER I wring these peoples necks.

    W. T. F. ??????

    This should be illegal.

    If I say that enough times will it come true?

    Ken, thanks for bringing this to our attention because it really is important. I forgive you the level of irritation irritation it brings me.

    •  I hope it's not (0+ / 0-)

      If someone outlaws our charter virtual school, then my special needs child will have nowhere else to go, and I and my husband, who have full-time jobs, will have to figure out how to home-school our child.

      It's not a choice.  It's a necessity.

      Most of us with special needs children are invisible to you and to the public, and it seems like an easy choice to just ignore us and leave us with no options, and let us just drop off the radar, and home school, and deal with our difficult, inconvenient, messy problems ourselves, and not bother the public with our expensive and difficult needs.

      Thank GOD for charter virtual school.  It is the only thing that kept us in the public school system.

      My daughter has primary juvenile fibromyalgia, which has many of the symptoms of chronic fatigue syndrome, and more.   In order to provide an appropriate educational environment, she needs to work at her own pace, take frequent rests, have high numbers of unpredictable absences, provide an environment which is appropriate for her sensory sensitivities -- ergonomic furniture, place to go lie down and rest, low lighting controlled by the student, texts on an e-reader because fibro eyes jump,  no crowded hallways because being bumped into can cause excruciating pain, no strong smells,  no loud noises, no bright lights, minimal breeze or an opportunity to put a blanket over your head, options for heating or cooling different parts of the body because the body can't regulate heat well, control over whether sitting or standing, because standing can cause syncope (fainting spells)...

      Need I go on?   Does that sound like a typical school to you?

      IEP's are a joke to families like ours.   How can you write an IEP to basically redesign the entire school system to fit your needs.

      There are some kids that need to learn at home.   Period.

      •  None of the ire here is aimed at situations (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:

        like yours. The anger is aimed at the average student being pushed toward such alternatives as "just as good as regular school" when it is most emphatically not.

        "Nothing happens unless first a dream. " ~ Carl Sandburg

        by davewill on Wed Jan 08, 2014 at 09:40:02 AM PST

        [ Parent ]

        •  I wasn't pushed (0+ / 0-)

          In fact, I had no idea it existed.  I only found it, when I was forced to look for some alternative.   You have no idea how reluctant we really were to leave public school, and I found that to be the case with almost all the other parents that I spoke to.

      •  DFWmom (0+ / 0-)


        Your daughter exhibits classic symptoms of lyme disease and or/bartonella infection. Especially bartonella. It's a common bacterial infection that most cats carry {and fleas and ticks} and it's easily passed through contact. Those with compromised immune systems can get quite severe symptoms from it. It can also cause immune dysfunction. Your daughters symptoms are textbook bartonella.

        Many studies are underway regarding bartonella and it's many strains. It's often mistakenly diagnosed as Fibro, CFS, etc. Years ago my son's symptoms were identical to your daughters and we eventually found out it was lyme, bartonella and babesia. All from a tick bite when he was five years old. He did a prolonged antibiotic regimen and today lives quite normally and pain-free.

        Galaxy Labs in North Carolina is the foremost authority on bartonella in the nation. The website can direct you to doctor's that specialize in treating these infections. The foremost lab for lyme testing is Other testing is very inaccurate.

        All the best,

        •  That is true (0+ / 0-)

          I have investigated Lyme disease, as well as other similar diseases, such as ME, CFS, etc.   Her condition is classified in a group of diseases referred to as neuro-immune disease and there are many that have similarities in symptoms.  Her paternal aunt,and paternal grandmother were also diagnosed with fibromyalgia, so it seems very likely that the disease has been inherited in her case.   There are also symptoms of sensory sensitivity in at least a couple of close relatives on the maternal side as well, so, unfortunately, genetically speaking, she got a genetic double whammy of screwed up nervous system.

          I do appreciate the tip.   It would be very cool if it was Lyme, because there are treatments for that, even though it's still a tough road.

  •  The CEO is Ronald Packard, not Packer. (3+ / 0-)

    He shouldn't be confused with the former Republican congressman, however.

    "Nothing happens unless first a dream. " ~ Carl Sandburg

    by davewill on Tue Jan 07, 2014 at 04:21:15 PM PST

  •  This does not surprise me. I teach at a college (34+ / 0-)

    level and just about all of my tech-savy students say they hate online classes.

    That young people who are already marginalized are going through this is even more disgusting. It's sheer exploitation of both teacher and student.

    And K12 has some very expensive TV commercials, that raised my eyebrows as soon as I saw one.

    Thank you for sharing this. And I agree with bastrop: It should be illegal.

    •  This was the point in the article that caused me (10+ / 0-)

      to experience a wave of dread:

      The majority of students at the school are the kinds of kids whose histories and current realities cause concerned adults to keep eyes open for signs of trauma, those that haunt the dreams of educators and social workers. My students were survivors - of suicide attempts, of bullying, of abuse, of neglect, of the attempted suicides of siblings or best-friends or boyfriends. Some of them battle addictions and destructive habits; some self-harm, isolate themselves, or even run away.
      The author shared that she knew this to be the case since she was an English teacher, and her students wrote about their life experiences and feelings.  

      The thought that these students are spending hours, alone, on-line, possibly isolated made me feel absolutely dizzy with alarm.  I have and have had students who at-risk and we make an extra, extra effort to surround them with a supportive, watchful, caring, and encouraging community.  

      Plutocracy (noun) Greek ploutokratia, from ploutos wealth; 1) government by the wealthy; 2) 21st c. U.S.A.; 3) 22nd c. The World

      by bkamr on Tue Jan 07, 2014 at 10:56:05 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  That is *not* my experience (0+ / 0-)

        We are in one of these schools.  I've met the parents and the kids.  

        The kids did not haunt my dreams.   They looked happy and well-adjusted on our field trip to the zoo, and to the botanical gardens.  Their parents told me stories of having ADHD, aspergers and being bullied.   And, they were quite obviously out of the house socializing, as that is where we met.

        It's nice for you to be concerned about these students, otherwise known as those people, but it's better to give parents and children options, so that they can solve problems like fibromyalgia, aspergers, myalgic myoecephalomyelitis, bullying, fibromyalgia, etc.

        My child is not isolated.  We actively search for opportunities to ensure that doesn't happen.  I import kids, sometimes staying with us an entire week, to make sure she has company.   The neighbor helps, too, taking her on outings and inviting her over to visit.    And, that is what all the other parents said, too.  It is a concern, and we work hard to make sure our children get what they need.

        We are not those people.  We are real people, and if you found yourself in our shoes, which I fervently hope that you never will, you would be grateful, as we are, to discover a way to get your child an education, to give your child the chance for interaction with seven professional teachers each day, as opposed to trying to educate your child through high school all by yourself.

        - Parent of a child with primary juvenile fibromyalgia and not one of those people.

    •  I also teach college students as an adjunct (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:

      That in itself is a diary that I may write some day, but I hate TEACHING online classes. I turn down online teaching gigs all the time. I need that one on one interaction with my students. I need to see that they understand things such as Hawthorne's historical background or Joyce's biography. That's just my opinion, though. Other instructors seem to like online courses.

      A village can not reorganize village life to suit the village idiot.

      by METAL TREK on Wed Jan 08, 2014 at 07:25:03 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  k12 has started television advertizing here in (25+ / 0-)

    eastern Iowa.  The biggest thing that they are stressing in the commercials is that the courses and text books are free.

    Now, I don't necessarily mind e-learning, but not as the primary avenue of a child's education.  For the rural area that can't afford to hire a Calculus instructor for the 5 kids that are ready for it in their county, no problem.  And Kirkwood Community doesn't have a satellite 'campus' in the county, or next county over, go for it.  But, for general 5th grade math or grammar, nope, no way.

  •  friend been teaching college course - on line 1/3 (6+ / 0-)

    designed the course and has been teaching the course for years

    covers 1/3 of the material as he does in class in on-line version

    and not get the interaction and learning

    and that is the way things are going .......

  •  Great post, teacherken. (4+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    cocinero, Lujane, Betty Pinson, StrayCat

    I much prefer your own ideas and writings as opposed to your posts pointing us to other's writings.

    You really gave substance and food for thought here.

    Thank you.

    In the time it took Adam Lanza to reload, eleven children escaped. What if...

    by Sixty Something on Tue Jan 07, 2014 at 05:21:28 PM PST

  •  I don't see how virtual schools can work (4+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Lujane, Betty Pinson, PatriciaVa, Mostel26

    for at risk kids.

    On the other hand, I see great value for other kinds of student.

    First off, obviously, there are children in remote areas - for example, Australia has used television based schooling for students living in remote outback locations with no access to schools for decades.

    Secondly, there are students who need courses that their schools are not equipped to provide.  I took second year AP Calculus at my high school.  Very few schools offer that AP - only a tiny fraction of high school students are able to handle it.  A smart high achieving kid at most schools is out of luck after he finishes pre-cal or at most first year calculus.  A virtual class is an obvious solution.

    This also applies to many other subjects.  For example, my high school offered French, Spanish, Latin, and German.  Say I had wanted to study Arabic, Russian, or Chinese?  Again, a virtual solution would have been perfect.

    Virtual classrooms also offer great potential for inverting the school environment - let kids listen to lectures at home and then spend time at school doing problems and getting one on one assistance from teachers.

    All of this can work and provide great value for motivated kids with motivated parents.

    For kids who don't have that the hope is that face time with teachers during which they cannot escape lessons will at least get them some learning.

    One of my big fears, however, is that K12 isn't doing any worse with those kids than regular public schools are.  Are there any stats on that?

    •  Udacity did fail at-risk Kids (7+ / 0-)

      So far, the evidence on MOOCs isn't good. San Jose State University tried using Udacity courses to reach at-risk students taking foundational courses. But for these students, often the ones most in need of low-cost education, the results were ugly. Students in the online Udacity versions of the courses gave up or failed at much higher rates than students in the regular versions. San Jose State has put the partnership on "pause;" meanwhile, Udacity is "pivoting" to charging students for vocational training courses sponsored by companies.

      I do agree that motivated students can benefit from virtual instruction, as you describe.

      I also believe that corporations will use the virtual classroom to impart technical expertise to new employees.

      Learn about Centrist Economics, learn about Robert Rubin's Hamilton Project.

      by PatriciaVa on Tue Jan 07, 2014 at 09:39:03 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

    •  K12 is doing worse than regular public schools (6+ / 0-)

      Yes, there are powerful opportunities to meet the needs of rural kids, etc as you point out - as a supplement... but K12 is not a "powerful opportunity" unless you're a hedge fund banker...  there are better options for such purposes

      Yes - there are plenty of stats that prove K12 Inc is doing far worse than regular public schools - follow the links in the post.  Half  as many virtual schools meet AYP (27%)  as regular schools - Half as many students (39%) graduate on time as those in traditional public schools.

      It is possible to find families who love K12 inc - I had a few too, and that's awesome. They, however, would likely exceed anywhere...  it is for the vast majority of the students I write. And for the vast majority, far more than in regular public schools, it does not work

      •  Are the measures truly fair? (0+ / 0-)

        My child is a special needs child.  But, I did not do an IEP, because K12 meets my child's needs so well.  

        In my field trips, all the parents had a story of ADHD, aspergers, bullying, etc.   Almost all those kids are special needs, but because they have found a solution, they don't do IEP's, so the number of special needs kids who are in virtual schools is vastly under-reported.

        Also, many of these kids were not going to go to public schools.  Their parents had already decided to remove them  from that environment.   These kids were trying a virtual school as a last ditch effort before resorting to home-schooling.  

        So, these are not a typical public school population.  They are the ones who fled the public school population, whose needs were not being met in public school.  So, I'd be interested in comparing the performance of, specifically, kids who left public school, in the year before they left, with the kids who joined TXVA, in their second year (so you are not skewed by the adjustment issues).

        The question of "is public school or virtual school better" might be better asked as "is virtual school or homeschool (or no school) better"?

        •  Interesting... I suspect you are a motivated (0+ / 0-)

          parent, right?

          If you were a more typical parent of an at risk kid - not really providing a great home environment, not pushing your kid to study and do the work, etc. do you think your child would be doing so well?

          •  It is a good question - probably bad outcome (0+ / 0-)

            I have considered how very screwed a parent would be if they did not have the money we had to get medical treatment, or the internet resources, or the college education.

            I think it's likely that the child would drop out of school, and be "home schooled" but not receive a very good education.

            You have to understand, that it takes at least the amount of executive tasks that I do to keep my child up to date in internet school, as it does to keep a child in public school with this kind of illness.  There are doctor's appointments, IEP meetings, absence notes, and it is still necessary to ride your child about doing work, because they miss so many days, and then you have a child who can't do one day's work, and you have to figure how to get that same child to do two day's make-up work in one day.   If you don't get all this just right, you end up with a cop at your door, or in court, for attendance issues.   Certifying the child as ill with the school doesn't reduce the attendance problems -- that just adds a task of getting notes from the doctor for every single missed day, which also requires frequent visits to a doctor that cost a lot of money ($550 per office visit a few years ago), of which the patient part is still pretty high.  Those visits don't accomplish anything with a chronic untreatable illness.  They are just for getting paperwork for the school.

            So, I think it is likely that the type of struggling family that you describe would be forced by circumstances to withdraw their child from school.  That would be the smart thing to do.  If they weren't on the ball enough to do that, then they would undoubtedly end up in court for truancy, might even end up with problems with CPS, which is something families with children with this condition have to watch out for.  We tend to get accused that we must be doing something wrong, and it must be our fault, because our kids are so sick.   There was a trend of reporting parents for kids with ME in the UK, and even those kids being taken away from their parents, by doctors and schools, with one kid dying after having been forcibly removed from her home (they broke open the door and removed her from her bed) to a mental health institute.  The autopsy  showed the family was right all along, that she had a real physical illness and was not "depressed" -- her spinal cord was inflamed.

            Schooling starts to take a backseat to finding a way to live.    

    •  You might be interested... (0+ / 0-) my other comments on this diary.   I am the mother of a special needs kid, and this was our only option, after ruling out traditional brick-and-mortar, homebound, and private schools which are too costly and don't meet our needs.

      The only thing left is virtual school or homeschool.   I cannot tell you how grateful we are for virtual school.

      •  And we might not. (0+ / 0-)

        It's borderline troll behavior to run through and post repetitive comments on every single negative thread you can find.

        "Nothing happens unless first a dream. " ~ Carl Sandburg

        by davewill on Wed Jan 08, 2014 at 09:43:10 AM PST

        [ Parent ]

        •  I missed the diary when it was published (0+ / 0-)

          I am responding to comments I find interesting, now.

          You listed some reasons why people would choose a virtual school, and I pointed out other comments that I had made, to avoid repeating my earlier comment explaining my experience, to which you responded to by accusing me of repeating an earlier comment.  

          So, you can't win for losing.

          If KOS or an admin finds my commenting activities inappropriate, I would certainly apologize and attempt to follow his guidelines, because I respect his space, and appreciate this fine blog.    

          I do not necessarily view those comments that I respond to as negative.  Some are, but some are just from a different perspective, and I like to offer my perspective.  

          I find that the true experience of people who have actually been in a virtual school, is seldom represented on threads such as this, and so I think it adds value to offer that perspective.    I often find that people have not thought about it from the perspective that I have experienced, with a special needs child.    I think I found a couple of people who have actually used the schools on this thread.  I have, in past diaries, had thoughtful responses from people who had not recognized that there might be a unique need for virtual schools, because they had not encountered a story like mine before.   A couple years ago, I was one of those people.  So, I don't consider their comments negative.

          Some of my comments made different points, some on why people attend such schools, some on how schools are measured, some on what attendees are like, as to whether they are "isolated" or "at risk", etc.   Some I do view as negative, such as generalizations about students who attend virtual schools, painting people with a broad brush, some on the subject of socialization.

          It is also borderline troll behavior to accuse someone of being "troll" when they are not troll.   "borderline" is something of a dodge, isn't it?    Basically, you are saying, "I don't like it, but I admit it's not against the rules".    

        •  Sorry -- the "we" in your comment confused me (0+ / 0-)

          I had originally responded to Beelzebubs Brass Bs, and you responded to my response to Beelzebubs Brass Bs, so my references to "you" in my response to you are intended to be references to "the original comment that I responded to".

        •  Speak for yourself and stop being an asshole (0+ / 0-)

          DFWmom apparently has real experience with K12, meaning that she knows more than 99.9% of the people posting here and her opinions seem to have a lot more value than yours do.

      •  Well, I'm interested, despite the fact (0+ / 0-)

        that you at least partially disagree with me.  After all, unlike the other people commenting in this diary you apparently have some real experience with K12.

        Thanks for your comments.

  •  This a little off topic, but I have to tell you (19+ / 0-)

    about what I did yesterday and then the feedback I received.  I had read a couple of books on climate change over the Xmas break and organized a lesson on being aware of one's carbon footprint.

    The lesson was titled A World Without Ice.

     I had students work in groups of 4.  I started by asking for private think time of 15-30 seconds on what is a carbon footprint.  Then talk with your table group and see if you can figure this out.  I eventually got them to get about 1/2 way there with some hints.  I showed then the C02 site that currently shows 395 ppm and asked lots of question that they worked with group members.  There were numerous times for student voice.  Then I showed them my carbon footprint using my computer and a projector. I then held up the book A World Without Ice and asked what is the importance of ice?  I teach in a farming area that gets water from melting snow.  More questions and more student voice.  Then at the end what 3 things can you do to lower your carbon footprint.  The lesson went fast and my students seemed to like it.  That was 1st period.  

    Then the visitors came in.

    Where I teach we have about 7-8 administrators who come in with clipboards and write down who knows what as they never share what they wrote.  They stayed for about 15-20 minutes.  And then the first question from the new assistant principal - Is this your Bio-Med class?  Yes it is.  Why are you teaching this?  I will email you later.

    These are 9th grade students who were all put into a class that teaches them only about Biology and this is what they learn in 9th and 10th grade.  After that they have 2 science credits and do not need any more science.  

    Then today 2 emails - wondering why I taught the lesson I did yesterday.  

    I cannot wait until I can retire!

    •  That's amazing (7+ / 0-)

      sounds like you were called out for teaching an outstanding class in a way that made the students think.  Too many schools now should have signs prohibiting initiative and thinking.

      Democrats give you the Bill of Rights; Republicans sell you a bill of goods!

      by barbwires on Tue Jan 07, 2014 at 08:28:52 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

    •  If you're not teaching in Alaska or Texas, then (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      StrayCat, Heart of the Rockies

      this would be a life science lesson supporting the Next Generation Science Standard at the high school level.  Namely:

      HS-LS2-7.  Design, evaluate, and refine a solution for reducing the impacts of human activities on the environment and biodiversity.*
      I'm not sure what the course description is of "Bio-med," but I can see all sorts of ways discussions about how we care for our environment is related to our human health and well-being.  

      Thank you for all you do. As a parent, I would have appreciated having my son participate in the lesson.

      Plutocracy (noun) Greek ploutokratia, from ploutos wealth; 1) government by the wealthy; 2) 21st c. U.S.A.; 3) 22nd c. The World

      by bkamr on Tue Jan 07, 2014 at 11:18:07 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  My child in virtual charter school (0+ / 0-)

        Had assignments such as ...

        -reading an extensive article from Berkeley on what science is, and how creationism is not a valid subject in the field of science.

        - an in-depth examination of the cause of the recent financial collapse, and proposals for preventing a future simiar collapse

        - a very in-depth critical reading of a poem, with rigorous grading requirements demanding specific discusion of structure, speaker, imagery.

        - lab assignments such as measuring oxygen production of the elodea plant under different conditions, and preparing and examining cells of an onion root

        I've been helping her with the math.   It's definitely challenging material.

        Her assignments in geography had a section in every area they studied examining human impacts on the environment, and environmental impacts on humans.

  •  This has been happening in Iowa. (12+ / 0-)

    A loophole in the open enrollment law gives the companies access to tax dollars. This is in the second school year of this scheme. I wrote a diary on this in Feb., 2012.

    K12 is currently running slick ads on Iowa TV stations. Another company, Iowa Connections Academy, is also operating in the state.

    Thank you, teacherken, for publicizing this nefarious attack on public education.

    •  Academy. (0+ / 0-)

      All the charters name themselves "acadamy."  They are marketing to parents who are worried about their children's future.  The brand is made  up to look like an elite school for rich kids.  Some of them even have a crest in their logo, and require the students to wear the distinctive check-patterned uniform that private schools require.  Ultimately the pitch is about as genuine as the latest Oil of Olay wrinkle cream.  But Oil of Olay knows it is selling youth, not lotion.  Charters are selling the idea that working class people's kids can have the same opportunities as rich people's kids.  

      "YOPP!" --Horton Hears a Who

      by Reepicheep on Wed Jan 08, 2014 at 08:35:49 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  Love you Darcy!!! (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
  •  tip of the iceberg (4+ / 0-)

    Glad she was able to write her story. Wish we could help the students write their stories. The on-line trend is powerful in the marketplace yet from what I've seen, regressive in relation to student learning.

  •  Let me guess, (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Mostel26, wishingwell

    the teachers in these charter schools aren't getting pensions or benefits, nor are they unionized?


  •  This is a worthy read (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    bkamr, Mostel26

    Darcy Bedortha is fighting on the front lines of change. She can't do it alone. Please rec and share her guest post linked in the diary.

    This is what fighting back looks like. Darcy is shining a bright light on something that needs major disinfecting.

  •  There is money to be made. (5+ / 0-)

    Annual spending on elementary and secondary education in the US is about $500billion. That's comparable in scale to the Dept. Of Defense. Then imagine we had education contractors at the same scale we have defense contractors.

    The entrepreneurial/vulture class looks at this flow of hundreds of billions of dollars and wants to figure out ways to divert it into their own pockets. They are making progress.

    By recent estimates, $1.7billion per year is spent on standardized tests and almost all of that amount goes to private for-profit businesses. What these people figured out long ago however, is that you can't really tap that $500billion by selling textbooks and testing services. To make real money you need to run the whole school because that gives you a much bigger chunk of cash to make a percentage on.

    Outside of a dog, a book is man's best friend. Inside of a dog, it's too dark to read. - Groucho Marx

    by Joe Bob on Tue Jan 07, 2014 at 11:10:25 PM PST

  •  My sister-in-law worked for K12 (9+ / 0-)

    Her experience was long hours and low pay. She was considered part-time with over 200 students. There was a requirement that she meet face-to-face with each student every so often, the transportation costs coming out of her pocket. The students came from a large radius in the Philly area.

    It is quickly becoming impossible to keep up with the attack of the parasitic corporations on our society. The big money media is not going to investigate and expose abuses like the K12 gambit.

    Our country is circling the proverbial drain.

    Be radical in your compassion.

    by DWG on Wed Jan 08, 2014 at 12:21:41 AM PST

  •  Republished to American Legislative Transparency (6+ / 0-)

    Project, Added ALEC and American Legislative Exchange Council to tags.

    ALEC's educational agenda can be found here:

    Follow links to get 13 through 18th annual editions PDF files.

    Here is ALEC's Terry Moe (from Stanford) on using virtual education to privatize education and to bust teacher's unions, part 1:

    Part 2:

    (Imbed not working, so links)

    So ALEC really is a big player in virtual education, and writes the laws that have been implemented in at least 39 states.

    Republicans are like alligators. All mouth and no ears.

    by Ohiodem1 on Wed Jan 08, 2014 at 12:24:35 AM PST

  •  Idiocracy! The future is here. (5+ / 0-)

    This serves the plutocratic oligarchy in multiple ways: first by feeding cash into the blood funnel, and further, by creating an  ill-educated, ill-informed citizenry; also by destroying public education, and with it, the last bastion of the Labor Movement- Teachers' Unions --- not to mention furthering this exercise by making schools offshore-able.  The list goes on.

    Quite a neat little racket!

    The hungry judges soon the sentence sign, And wretches hang, that jurymen may dine.

    by magnetics on Wed Jan 08, 2014 at 02:23:29 AM PST

  •  Do Google bombs still work? (0+ / 0-)

    For instance: Is a fraud? That link yields some very interesting results by the way.

    Reaganomics noun pl: blind faith that unregulated capitalism can provide unlimited goods for unlimited people on a planet with finite resources. Synonyms: trickle-down; voodoo economics. Antonyms: common sense. Related Words: Laffer curve.

    by FrY10cK on Wed Jan 08, 2014 at 03:38:29 AM PST

    •  yes (0+ / 0-)

      There are many very opinionated people who have never had a child registered to one of these schools, who does not have a special needs child, who have some very odd ideas of why people use a virtual charter school, and what our life is like.  

      When they actually talk to one of us who needs this service, they are often surprised by what they learn.

      •  Special needs children and virtual schools. (0+ / 0-)

        DFWmom, I applaud you for the courage you have shown in continuing to work towards getting your child educated.

        I just think there should be a local, non-profit option to getting your child's needs met. (And all other children, too.)

        The thought of you folks having no realistic options besides for-profit education makes my skin crawl. My experiences with ed-for-profit are not good; and I trust no organization which sells education for corporate profit.

        And I agree wholeheartedly that your child deserves the very best education she can be gotten. As long as your child has you, she'll have that.

        It's not the virtual school we object to. It's the fact that there aren't any of those yet organized on a traditional, non-profit, unionized basis.  This means small class sizes, synchronized classes, well-paid teachers who have some idea of what they're doing and how to do it -- and the power to make sure that it's done that way. If we're going to do this, let's do it right.

        Your child -- and thousands of others as well -- are depending on us -- all of us, not just you parents --  to do just that.

        Keep your Powder Dry and your Data Local!

        by thanatokephaloides on Thu Jan 09, 2014 at 11:14:38 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

  •  Dave Safier at Blog for Arizona (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    has covered K-12 extensively. Here's a google link to his writings.

    It is ridiculous to pretend that firing teachers based on student test scores, starting charter schools, giving out vouchers or implementing merit pay will overcome the challenges facing a child living in poverty. -Jersey Jazzman

    by Desert Rose on Wed Jan 08, 2014 at 04:34:50 AM PST

  •  I have used K12 for the last 7 years... (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    While I can not argue with all of your points nor do I want to, I can offer that K12 provided me with an excellent source of education for my children while living in Georgia, which was 47th in the country for education.  My small town was at the bottom for our state.  K12 allowed me to home school all 3 of my children using a very complete package which included many books, science experiments, and met very high educational standards.  I have now used K12 in GA, VA and FL.  My oldest son went to high school and has maintained all A's and B's and is currently dual enrolled in college.  My middle child started real school last year in 7th grade and made honor roll and was invited to join  the National Junior Honor Society.  And my third child is still enrolled in K12.  With parents who care about their child's education and want to provide a good home school curriculum, K12 can be excellent.  Again, I can not provide answers for the problems it has but I can say it has been wonderful for my family.

  •  you are right...the article by Ms Bedortha (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    wishingwell, darcybedortha

    is more than well worth reading.

    I posted a link to this on the Save Michigan Public Schools FB page.

    Our kids...just an atm as far as k-12 is concerned.


  •  Brick & mortar charter schools aren't much better (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    My fiance was a special ed teacher at a charter school for a little over a year. What she told me is that, basically, the charter school takes the dollars allotted for each student and then pretty much pockets it. If a student is allotted, say, $10,000, then the school will provide the bare minimum and pocket as much as they can. If a student is allotted $10,000 PLUS additional funds because they're special ed, they'll accept the student, take the original 10K AND the extra for special ed (in class support, etc) but won't PROVIDE the extras they were TOLD to provide (and for which they've still billed the state). In other words, charge the most & provide the least, just like they do in the corporate world.

    They decided not to renew her contract & she couldn't be happier. She saw reviews of this school online & they all agree with her assessment.

    Charter schools. Yet another Republican idea that doesn't work.  

    A village can not reorganize village life to suit the village idiot.

    by METAL TREK on Wed Jan 08, 2014 at 06:55:53 AM PST

  •  Another perspective (0+ / 0-)

    Hi, TeacherKen.  As always, I love your insights on education.

    I would like to offer another perspective, from the side of the student in a charter operated within the K12 framework.    I have commented many times before, on our situation and experiences.   My daughter has primary juvenile fibromyalgia which lurked for many years, causing near excessive absences.  It is generally diagnosed around age 12 or 13, as it was with my daughter, at which she promptly collapsed, and was unable to attend school.     She went on homebound, but that was not an adequate teaching environment, as it consisted of teachers attempting to send work home, which arrived with no explanation of what was needed, and was always late, given after it had been assigned to other students, and the homebound teacher had no idea what it was for.    So, we couldn't go to traditional school, public or private, and homebound wasn't working, so at that point, my husband and I, who both work both time, were realizing (and dreading) the only alternative that seemed left -- home-schooling.

    And, then, like a miracle, we discovered K12.

    It's different.  It requires more effort on the part of parents.    I truly doubt that low income students get sucked into K12 for more than a semester or a year, if they aren't a right fit, because in all likelihood, they either fail their courses or fail their standardized tests.   It is a different paradigm, suitable for independent learner who are motivated, and who have motivated parents, who are comfortable with working in an online environment.

    I have attended meetups of parents.  Those parents tell me that they are there, because their kids have aspergers, ADHD or were bullied.    They were not "sucked" from traditional school.  Their story was like mine.  They had already realized that traditional school was off the table.  What they were "sucked" from, was home-schooling.

    Now -- given a choice between home-schooling, where there is one teacher that is also the parent, and virtual schooling where the child has benefit of interacting with different teachers in each course, and also gets assistance from parents, and also interacts with an online community of other kids, I know which option I prefer.    Virtual school also has the benefit of encouraging a common curriculum, whereas home-schooling curriculums here in Texas have almost no standards beyond that there must be one.  It specifies that the curriculum must include education in certain areas, but sets no standards for what is learned.    

    I often find in discussions like this, that there is a focus on "here's all the benefits of traditional school, and all the drawbacks of virtual school".    However, to make an informed decision, there must be an evaluation of both the benefits, and the drawbacks, of both options.   Also, I often find an argument that some policy decision must be made in preference of one or the other.    I disagree that we should, by policy, limit options.

    I, and the other refugee families that attend our virtual school, came to this place for very real reasons.    I have paid taxes all my life, and my child is entitled to a publicly funded education, and the one that was provided through brick-and-mortar school, and through homebound, did not meet my child's needs.     It was -- literally -- impossible to get her an education under those circumstances.   So, if we did not have our publicly funded virtual school, she would not get a publicly funded education.    She would be a statistic.   Road kill.  Run over and left by the one-size-fits-all policies of public education.

    We could spend hours complaining about all the problems of traditional brick-and-mortar public schools.  There are all sorts of problems.   Just ask dsnodgrass.  

    And, we can spend hours complaining about all the problems of charters.  

    And, we can spend hours complaining about all the problems of a virtual education.

    And, we could also spend hours discussing the advantages of all of the above.

    I do not agree with the looting of public education.  Yet, as a parent, I do find sometimes that I prefer dealing with a charter, because they have a way of cutting through red tape that cripples government entities.   In fact, I believe the best way to improve local schools is to eliminate 2/3 of the state and federal regulations relating to those schools.  Get out of the way, and let them innovate like private charters, and then we can't argue that charters innovate where public schools don't.  I can't tell you how many times, when I worked with the principal of our public school to try to solve problems created by my daughter's illness, I heard the principal say, "My hands are tied due to State or Federal regulations."    Working with people whose hands are tied is a claustrophic experience.  

    What I feel very strongly about, since I have found myself in a surprising place that I didn't expect to be until about three years ago, as the parent of a special needs child, is that no one is better suited to decide what a child needs, than the parent.    We parents are the experts on our child's challenges, and our child's needs.  Therefore, the best public education system, is one that offers options, so that when a family is struggling, solutions are already there and available, and it part of a normal process for a family to find the right fit among the many options, as opposed to it having to be a three ring circus with IEP meetings where school staff outnumber parents five to one, and bully parents into choosing solutions that are not the right fit for the family.   Having options available to us, empowering us with choices, is what really saved us when we found ourself in a crisis.    

    I have heard people argue that we should have rules, where this option is only available to those that the government deems worthy, such as proving special needs.   Again -- what parents and kids need are options to solve their own problems.   Inevitably, there is a disease no one can diagnose (my daughter's sometimes takes years to diagnose), and kids still need education in the meantime.    What we need to do is remove obstacles to education, no create new ones.

    My child has completed one year in a charter virtual school.  She is half-way through the next.   She is performing well on standardized tests, and is advanced in some areas.  Our school had a process for onboarding late enrollees, on a certain late date, so that they completed one assignment to catch them up with the rest of the class.  The majority of our work is based on a schedule to most of the class is at the same place at the same time.    

    I agree with concerns regarding funding disparities between virtual and traditional schools.  However, I will point out that it is an information techonology intensive, and those projects can cost a great deal of money to keep systems and hardware current.    I'd have to see some financials to make that case.  I'd also argue that some of that money should be spent, allowing kids to interact with their home school districts engaging in extra-curricular activities like sports, music or social events.   I believe that is a valid part of our public educational system, and I also believe we should be providing these services to home-schoolers.   There is no reason that virtual school children, and also homeschooled children, cannot be integrated socially with neighborhood children in their home school district for activities such as choir or dances or sports, except that politicians just don't give a flying f---.  The families of those kids still pay taxes, and still have needs, and it would solve some of the social issues that are a concern with home learning.

    To concloude, it concerns me when this discussion devolves into "here's everything that is wrong with virtual charters", because if it weren't for virtual charters, my child would have been left without a viable educational alternative, except for do-it-yourself home-schooling.  I do value professional teachers, and I am glad that my child, through virtual education, still has the benefits of interacting with seven professional teachers, because I feel that I would have been a poor substitute, had we not had this option, and I had become her homeschool teacher.

  •  In KY a new charter school bill (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    has been introduced for the third time (with new tweaks) by the same state legislator who sits on ALEC's Education Task Force.  I guess the theory is to just wear people down until they say "uncle".   Hopefully, this will go the way of the other two, but since KY is one of the states that does not have charters at all, the pressure will be on, not only from conservative legislators, but all the little front groups for ALEC, Walton Foundations, etc.

  •  Here in PA, Gov Corbett heavily promoting cyber (0+ / 0-)

    education. He keeps reminding the public that it is free and a public school education online.

    We get a ton of ads about cyber education and how it is so great and it is free.

    Ugh!  My sister has been a teacher for over 30 yrs and she does not even live in PA, but she sees those ads and gets so angry.  She said cyber education is a very poor alternative.

    She says that there are other alternatives out there for kids who do not do well in public schools, cannot afford private schools, and need a good alternative.  But cyber education should only be used on rare occasions.

    Keystone Liberals on Twitter @ KeystoneLibs , Join PA Liberals at

    by wishingwell on Wed Jan 08, 2014 at 09:04:33 AM PST

  •  Disagree Here (0+ / 0-)

    I'm studying to be a surgeon at Khan Academy. The courses are all online and totally free of course. A similar education at a university and teaching hospital would be hundreds of thousands of dollars.

    I'm getting all of this for free and I'm already practicing on friends and family with some pretty good results.

    "I'll believe that corporations are people when I see Rick Perry execute one."

    by bink on Wed Jan 08, 2014 at 09:59:55 AM PST

  •  Back in the 1949-50 school year, I lucked out (0+ / 0-)

    my first grade teacher realized that I caught on to reading the first time she actually allowed the class to read from a book.  It said "A cat and a rat ..." .  She followed a policy of benign neglect, let me get away with reading whatever I wanted as long as it was a hardcover book with text and not just a picture book or comic book.  So did the rest of my teachers through 6th grade.  The first grade teacher also suggest to my mother taking me into the adult section of the public library and letting me choose whatever I wanted to read.  Seventh grade was bad--so much homework I had to take it home and my mother got into it and insisted on correcting it and making me copy it over with her corrections, which was like trying to play cards with constant kibitzing.  Eighth grade was even worse, my English teacher told the class that he wanted us to do our own work without any help from anyone else and he did not want us to let anyone else type our work for us, because they would correct it in the process of typing it.

  •  My granddaughter's school wanted me to put her in (0+ / 0-)

    vertual school, because she was having some health problems.  I insisted she stay in regular school because she needs socialization skills.  We sorted out her health issues and she is doing really well in school this year.  I am glad she didn't need to use the vertual school, which I think uses K12.

  •  K12, Inc. (0+ / 0-)

    Ms. Bedortha's report and assessment of her experience at K12 demonstrates that the political battle over charter schools has never been a matter of finding the money for schools, obviously. It's a matter of destroying public schools, lining the pockets of already wealthy business executives, and satisfying the agenda of right wing politicians. That Michael Milken is involved in such a playing field for corruption is no surprise whatsoever.

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