On Monday, a Superior Court judge in Wake County, North Carolina, will decide whether to permit the for-profit corporation K12 to open an online charter school for the state of North Carolina. K12 received preliminary approval from the Cabarrus school district, after K12 promised the district 4 percent of its revenues. That’s a nice commission for this little district but a disservice to the other children of North Carolina.
The majority of school boards in the state oppose the online school, because its revenues will come directly out of their public school budgets. By opening this school, students across the state will have more crowded classrooms and fewer resources.
Numerous studies have shown that online schools get worse results than brick-and-mortar schools. Their students get low test scores, and their graduation rates are abysmal.
K12’s Ohio Virtual Academy has a four-year graduation rate of 30 percent. For black students, it is only 12 percent. In Colorado, the Virtual Academy has a graduation rate of 12 percent, and only 9 percent for black students.
By contrast, the graduation rate in North Carolina is 78 percent overall, with 71.5 percent for black students and 69 percent for Hispanic students.
A study of cyber charters in Pennsylvania showed that the virtual charters get worse academic results than either public schools or brick-and-mortar charter schools.
Recently the New York Times published an expose, revealing that K12 aggressively recruits students, many of whom drop out in the first year; K12 keeps the tuition money, however. Churn is the key to its success, so it pays handsomely to bring in new students as the current crop leaves. The Washington Post showed how K12 picks the poorest district in a state, so it can claim the maximum tuition reimbursement for its corporate coffers.
The corporation was founded by former Secretary of Education Bill Bennett, junk bond king and ex-felon Michael Milken, and Wall Street financier Ron Packard. Packard, formerly of Goldman Sachs and McKinsey, is now CEO; he received compensation last year of $5 million, all of it from taxpayer revenues for public education.
Why would North Carolina want to waste taxpayer dollars on a for-profit corporation that gets worse results than North Carolina’s own public schools?
Why take money away from the successful public schools of North Carolina to enrich a for-profit corporation that offers a low-quality education?