Archives for category: Education Industry

Jersey Jazzman warns of a very serious malady found in the charter industry: Charter cheerleading.

 

He says it is perfectly normal to be proud of your school and its accomplishments. It is normal to want the world to know that your teachers and kids are terrific.

 

But charter cheerleaders go beyond the bounds of normal pride. Their schools are far, far better than yours. They quote statistics that ignore the reality of skimming and cherry-picking. They even boast when their school has not been open long enough to have produced any statistics. The simple fact of being a “charter” makes them say that they are better than any public school.

 

These people need help.

 

 

Tony Lux, recently retired as superintendent of the Merrillville Community public schools, has written a blistering opinion article in the Fort Wayne Journal-Gazette.

 

He says that it is time for all supporters of public education to unite and vote for legislators who support public education.

 

Despite the fact that the voters of the state of Indiana overwhelmingly ousted State Superintendent Tony Bennett, an advocate of privatization, his policies continue.

 

Glenda Ritz, running against Bennett, received more votes than Governor Mike Pence, yet Pence has used the powers of his office to cut down the power of Ritz and to push ever more profit-making into the schools.

 

The only way to stop the total destruction of public education in the great state of Indiana is to vote for legislators who will support public schools against the entrepreneurs, privatizers, and profiteers.

 

Lux writes:

 

All public schools continue to be harmed financially [by Pence's policies of privatization]. Tax caps and expanded tax reductions have reduced state income. Along with the continuing obsession for maintaining the golden grail of a $2 billion state surplus, these factors have resulted in declarations by the governor that there just isn’t any state money to appropriately increase school funding. Nevertheless, diversion of education tax dollars toward the proliferation of unproven charter schools and private school vouchers have reduced funding for all public schools.

The governor makes grand claims that Indiana lives within its means (despite tax income that is diminishing due to an array of continuing and expanding tax deductions), and that Indiana maintains strong reserves (through “reversions” that take money back from state programs that serve the public), while still making “investments in education.” These claims ring incredibly hollow and are transparently hypocritical to anyone close to public education (and other public services as well).

Supposedly, business tax breaks will bring new jobs. But those new jobs require better-skilled graduates. Only thriving public schools in our cities, towns, suburbs and farm communities will achieve those results. Charter schools have little evidence of success, and tax dollars for vouchers are being expanded to pay for already-successful students rather than to fund programs for underachieving students.

The state’s return on investment in these strategies is practically negligible in increasing the percentage of students at grade level and in increasing the college and career skills of our high school graduates.

 

Mel Hawkins of Indiana says the election of 2014 may be the most important ever for the future of public education in Indiana. Now is the time to step up and support those who will fund our public schools and oust those vandals who would destroy them and turn our children into profit centers.

Perdido Street blogger asks why it is impossible to find out who contributed to the lobbying group Families for Excellent Schools, which spent $6 million this year to prevent Mayor Bill de Blasio from regulating the charter school sector and won a law that forces the city to pay the rent of charters not located on public school grounds.

 

The blogger quotes extensively from the business magazine Crain’s New York, which described how this lobbying group exploited loopholes to avoid complying with state laws that require disclosure of donors to political action committees. “Group is visible,” the article’s title says, “but not its donors.”

 

Why do they hide their names and faces? We know why Perdido Street blogger has no name: he or she would be fired for speaking candidly, although tenure might be an obstacle.

 

But why do Wall Street hedge fund managers hide their identity? Why are they ashamed to let the world know that they are the “Families for Excellent Schools,” that they—whose children attend elite schools—are pretending to be parents in New York City’s poorest communities? Why pretend that impoverished families raised $6 million to attack Bill de Blasio, even as he was fighting to raise the minimum wage, expand universal pre-kindergarten, and preserve public education? Why pretend that the poor families who have been hoodwinked into supporting the privatization of public education are paying for the destruction of public education and the enrichment of investors and charter entrepreneurs?

 

Perdido Street blogger writes:

 

Just as Campbell Brown refuses to reveal who the donors for her anti-tenure group are even as she spends the money she gets from them on her anti-tenure campaign, Families For Excellent Schools spends millions lobbying politicians and millions more on pro-charter ads without revealing where that money is coming from.

 

This is life in Andrew Cuomo’s New York, where he raised millions through his Committee To Save New York PAC, then had that PAC spend that money on ads touting his political agenda, all without having to reveal who was donating to the Committee To Save New York PAC.

 

When the law changed and he would have been forced to reveal that donor base, he shut down the Committee To Save New York instead.

 

The criminals are running the state, folks – they own it, they’re throwing their dirty money around and buying whatever they want and whomever they want whenever they want and there’s NOTHING you can do it about it.

 

Andrew Cuomo’s New York – a cesspool of corruption.

 

 

 

 

Own a charter school! Own four! The road to riches!

 

ProPublica reporters here tell the story of Baker Mitchell in North Carolina, who has discovered that the free market works very well indeed for those who know how to use it.

 

Mitchell has four charter schools in North Carolina. He is also closely allied with Art Pope, the multimillionaire libertarian. He is connected politically. What could possibly go wrong?

 

He boasts that students schooled at his sprawling, rural campuses produce better test scores at a lower cost than those in traditional public schools.

 

The schools, however, do more than just teach children. They are also at the center of Mitchell’s business interests. Every year, millions of public education dollars flow through his chain of four nonprofit charter schools to for-profit companies he controls.

 

Unlike with traditional school districts, at Mitchell’s charter schools there’s no competitive bidding. No evidence of haggling over rent or contracts. The schools buy or lease nearly everything from companies owned by Mitchell. Their desks. Their computers. The training they provide to teachers. Most of the land and buildings.

 

The schools have all hired the same for-profit management company to run their day-to-day operations. The company, Roger Bacon Academy, is owned by Mitchell, 74.

 

It functions as the schools’ administrative arm, taking the lead in hiring and firing school staff. It handles most of the bookkeeping. The treasurer of the nonprofit that controls the four schools is also the chief financial officer of Mitchell’s management company. The two organizations even share a bank account.

 

Mitchell’s management company was chosen by the schools’ nonprofit board, which Mitchell was on at the time – an arrangement that would be illegal in many other states.

 

As the article points out, his schools get higher scores than the local public schools, but they enroll half as many needy children as the public schools whose money they poach.

 

Two of Mitchell’s former employees told ProPublica they have been interviewed by federal investigators. Mitchell says he does not know whether the schools are being investigated and that he has not been contacted by any investigators.

 

To Mitchell, his schools are simply an example of the triumph of the free market. “People here think it’s unholy if you make a profit” from schools, he said in July while attending a country-club luncheon to celebrate the legacy of free-market sage Milton Friedman.

 

It’s impossible to know how much Mitchell is profiting from his companies. He has fought to keep most of the financial details secret. Still, audited financial statements show that over six years, companies owned by Mitchell took in close to $20 million in revenue from his first two schools. Those records go through the middle of 2013. Mitchell since has opened two more schools.

 

Some people look at Mitchell’s political activities and his financial rewards, and they see conflicts of interest. Mitchell is making a lot of money. Mitchell says that it is his business how much money he makes. And that is that.

 

My view: all for-profit schools and colleges should be made illegal. They are a ripoff for students and they take money that taxpayers intended for public education, not for investors.

 

Read more here: http://www.newsobserver.com/2014/10/15/4233621_new-charter-rules-benefit-owner.html?sp=/99/102/110/&rh=1#storylink=cpy

 

 

Frank Breslin, a retired high school teacher of history and world languages, has written an eloquent article about the corporate assault on public education and explains why this assault endangers democracy and the American dream of equal opportunity.

 

He begins in this way:

 

A specter is haunting America – the privatization of its public schools, and Big Money has entered into an unholy alliance to aid and abet it. Multi-billionaire philanthropists, newspaper moguls, governors, legislators, private investors, hedge fund managers, testing and computer companies are making common cause to hasten the destruction of public schools.

 

This assault also targets the moral and social vision that inspired the creation of public schools – the belief in a free and inclusive democratic society that unites all of us in a common destiny as we struggle together toward a just society and a better life for ourselves and our children.

 

Public schools were the welcoming gateway to equal opportunity for our nation’s children. The fate of Old Europe with its assigned stations in life, its divinely-appointed places in the order of things, was not to be ours as Americans. Inspired by the stories of Horatio Alger, we would seek our fortune because this was America, the country where dreams came true; the land of promise, where pluck, hard work, and a bit of luck would carry the day.

 

This was the manifest destiny of the poor and marginalized who came to these shores, and public-school children were ushered into this grand tradition of exalted ideals. The poor and the homeless, the sick and the hungry could lay claim to our help because that is what a great nation did – took care of its own, especially those who through no fault of their own couldn’t care for themselves. This was a radiantly humane vision in a dark and indifferent world, a belief that would insure our survival in mutual concern as a compassionate people.

 

Public schools were the flame-keepers of this national creed enshrined in FDR’s New Deal, now under radical assault by corporate America and their neoliberal acolytes who would drag the 99 percent back into the Dark Ages of Social Darwinism, the law of the jungle where might makes right, and the poor and weak go to the wall.

 

The Gates, Broad, Walton, and Koch Foundations deserve special mention in unleashing Armageddon upon our public schools, all the while preening themselves hypocritically as angels of light. So intent are these Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse in their class warfare against their own country that the sacrifice of millions of public-school children as collateral damage means nothing to them.

Thanks to readers for sending this YouTube video of the Philadelphia Student Union at “School Reform Commission” headquarters.

 

The students chanted “Philly is a union town! The SRC has got to go! Save our schools!”

 

Watch it and feel good about the future.

 

The students disrupted the showing of the anti-union, pro-charter, anti-public school film “Won’t Back Down,” which was produced by Walden Media. Walden Media also produced “Waiting for Superman.” It is owned by Philip Anschutz, a rightwing billionaire who has many corporate interests, including the nation’s largest film chain and a fracking business. Odd that the School Reform Commission was showing that particular film, which was a total bomb when it was released commercially. The union is evil in this film, and a teacher and parent combine to use the parent trigger to convert their public school into a charter school.

K12 Inc. is a for-profit virtual charter school chain that trades on the New York Stock Exchange. It was founded by Michael Milken and Lloyd Milken. It is funded with taxpayer dollars. It advertises and recruits heavily to keep enrollment up. It has a high attrition rate.

Its cash-cow operation is the Ohio Virtual Academy. Look for significant lobbying in New Jersey, Illinois, Connecticut, Kentucky and New York, according to the investor conference call.

I don’t know about you, but I had a hard time reading this transcript. They might just as well have been discussing a corporation that sells tires, toothpaste, bundled mortgages, or manure. These guys are profiting from taxpayer dollars that are supposed. To pay for public schools, for bands, for nurses, for guidance counselors, for reduced class sizes, for libraries. They are taking money away from real instruction, real children, real schools. Have they no sense of shame? Would any of the investors on this call put their own children in a K12 virtual charter school? Bet not. Bet their kids are in really nice suburban schools or elite private schools.Not sitting in front of a computer and calling it a “school.” It’s not. It’s a business, and the kids it recruits don’t get an education.

NOTE: I just learned that I am allowed to quote only 400 words from the transcript, so accordingly, I will count 400 words and delete what remains.

http://investors.k12.com/phoenix.zhtml?c=214389&p=irol-reportsannual

RISK FACTORS (Page 33-48)

Page 42

“We generate significant revenues from two virtual public schools, and the termination, revocation, expiration or modification of our contracts with these virtual public schools could adversely affect our business, financial condition and results of operation.

“In fiscal year 2013, we derived approximately 11% and 14% of our revenues, respectively, from the Ohio Virtual Academy and the Agora Cyber Charter School in Pennsylvania. In aggregate, these schools accounted for approximately 25% of our total revenues. If our contracts with either of these virtual public schools are terminated, the charters to operate either of these schools are not renewed or are revoked, enrollments decline substantially, funding is reduced, or more restrictive legislation is enacted, our business, financial condition and results of operations could be adversely affected.

“Note at a k12, inc investor conference call on 10/9 the company addressed the loss of the management agreement for Agora Cyber Charter School in PA. http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2014/10/01/charter-schools-k12_n_5914580.html

“The school will continue to use the k12, inc curriculum, but will self-manage.
http://www.marketwatch.com/story/k12-inc-awarded-contract-to-be-curriculum-provider-for-agora-cyber-charter-school-2014-10-09″

Here is the transcript of the investor conference call. Grab your vomit bag.

http://seekingalpha.com/article/2559155-k12-inc-2015-guidance-update-call-oct-09-2014?part=single

K12, Inc., 2015 Guidance/Update Call, Oct 09, 2014

Oct. 9, 2014 3:30 PM ET | About: K12 Inc. (LRN)

K12 Inc. (NYSE:LRN)

October 09, 2014 8:30 am ET

Executives

Mike Kraft – Vice President of Investor Relations

Nathaniel Alonzo Davis – Executive Chairman and Chief Executive Officer

James J. Rhyu – Chief Financial Officer and Executive Vice President

Timothy L. Murray – President and Chief Operating Officer

Analysts
Jeffrey P. Meuler – Robert W. Baird & Co. Incorporated, Research Division
Corey Greendale – First Analysis Securities Corporation, Research Division
Jason P. Anderson – Stifel, Nicolaus & Company, Incorporated, Research Division
Trace A. Urdan – Wells Fargo Securities, LLC, Research Division
Sou Chien – BMO Capital Markets Canada

Operator

Greetings, and welcome to the K12 Inc. Guidance Conference Call for Fiscal Year 2015. [Operator Instructions] As a reminder, this conference is being recorded. I would now like to turn the conference over to your host, Mike Kraft, Vice President of Finance. Please go ahead, sir.

Mike Kraft – Vice President of Investor Relations

Thank you, and good morning. Welcome to K12’s Fiscal Year 2015 Guidance Conference Call. Before we begin, I would like to remind you that in addition to historical information, certain comments made during this conference call may be considered forward-looking statements made pursuant to the Safe Harbor provisions of the Private Securities Litigation Reform Act of 1995 and should be considered in conjunction with cautionary statements contained in our guidance release in the company’s periodic filings with the SEC.

Forward-looking statements involve risks and uncertainties that may cause actual performance or results to differ materially from those expressed or implied by such statements.

In addition, this conference call contains time-sensitive information that reflects management’s best analysis only as of the day of this live call. K12 does not undertake any obligation to publicly update or revise any forward-looking statements.

For further information concerning risks and uncertainties that could materially affect financial and operating performance and results, please refer to our reports filed with the SEC, including, without limitation, cautionary statements made in K12’s 2014 Annual Report on Form 10-K. These filings can be found on the Investor Relations section of our website at http://www.k12.com.

This call is open to the public and is being webcast. The call will be available for replay on our website for 60 days.

With me on today’s call is Nate Davis, Chief Executive Officer and Chairman; Tim Murray, President and Chief Operating Officer; and James Rhyu, Chief Financial Officer. Following our prepared remarks, we will answer any questions you may have.
I would now like to turn the call over to Nate. Nate?

Nathaniel Alonzo Davis – Executive Chairman and Chief Executive Officer

Thank you, Mike. Good morning, everyone. Thanks for joining us on the call today. We wanted to provide you with an update on our fiscal year 2015 count date enrollment as well as a guidance for the first quarter and for the full year.

Today’s guidance is a reflection of the trends in the markets that I outlined during our fourth quarter earnings call. Specifically, we saw a couple of our charter schools deciding to self manage their online learning programs. We’re also seeing more traditional school districts offering their own full-time online programs, along with supplemental learning options and online summer courses.
Education is evolving for the better, and families today have more choices in choosing full-time or part time virtual programs for their child. We believe that overall demand for virtual options in education is increasing, and this is translated into stronger demand for our institutional group, Fuel Education or FuelEd, which provides content and curriculum to school districts as well as private and charter school operators. At the same time, these market dynamics have also created a challenge to enrolling students in our traditional managed programs. And to help you understand this transition, we’re providing new guidance on student enrollment and revenue to clearly outline how K12 is participating in the growth of online learning use in public school classrooms.

Student enrollment and revenue data will now be provided for Managed and Non-managed Programs. Managed Programs are where K12 provides substantially all of the administration and education program management for an online program. Non-managed Programs include schools where K12 is the primary provider of content and technology and we may even provide instruction, management or other educational services, but K12 is not providing primary administrative oversight for the virtual school program.
And as you can see from the data we provided in this morning’s release, the 4.7% reduction in student enrollment from managed schools reflects this new market dynamic. It also reflects the events in Tennessee, where the state imposed an arbitrary enrollment cap midway through the enrollment season; and in Colorado, where our school partner took longer than expected to finalize their charter and subsequently, the curriculum contract with K12. We believe that enrollment in these 2 states were impacted by over 4,000 students this season. Also, this year, K12, in collaboration with the school boards we serve, made a concerted effort to keep students enrolled only if they were truly engaged and ready to learn, which also affected Managed Program enrollments.

Our partners are serious about running high-quality charter schools, with students who realize this is hard work. And they want to succeed by putting in the work. And while this is slow to growth in the near term, it better matches students to our core curriculum strengths and improves our reputation as a firm who is serious about providing high-quality education.

Even with the market evolution that’s beginning to unfold, we continue to see strong demand in Managed Public Schools. This year, we saw solid growth in select markets, including Texas, Michigan, Florida and Georgia. And at some point, we believe states like New Jersey, Illinois, Connecticut, Kentucky and New York will become states that allow online charter schools, although these states could take quite some time before opening up.

We will also attempt to be one of the educational management organizations chosen in North Carolina as that market commences an online charter trial next year.

[NOTE: I deleted the remainder of the conference call to abide by the guidelines of the company that supplied the transcript. It was hard to know which words count towards the 400 permissible, like instructions, the operator's comments, the names of participants, etc. I cut copiously.]

I just noticed that the blog has had 15,000,050 page views since its inception on April 26, 2012.

 

I am amazed and gratified.

 

Thank you to the readers who are here everyday, commenting, sending articles from your town, city  or state.

 

Thank for for engaging in thoughtful dialogue in the comment section.

 

Some of the best-read blogs have been written not by me, but by you.

 

The blog has become a hub of the resistance to high-stakes testing and privatization. I will continue to highlight the hard work you do to strengthen your public schools, to stand up for children, and to defend real education, as opposed to the massive machinery of data collection that is now promoted by the U.S. Department of Education and the Gates Foundation. I will continue to honor those parents, students, and educators who speak out for real education and for treating students and teachers with dignity. I will continue to support those who fight politically motivated budget cuts that hurt children.

 

Together we will do what now seems impossible. We will one day restore sanity to education policy, which is now completely off-track and determined to tag and label each of us as though we were cattle. The policies that govern federal policy are written for the benefit of the education industry, not for the education of our children. Our policies bear no meaningful relationship to love of learning. We will put a stop to it, because it is absurd. Not today, not tomorrow, but in due time, the cyborgs who now control education policy will return to the planet from which they came and allow us once again to educate our children for meaningful lives, not as pawns of the testing industry, not as consumers of tech products, not as data points, but as full human beings.

Do you remember when the charter school idea was first circulated in 1988? Do you remember how the idea was sold in the 1990s? We were told that charters would save the taxpayers millions or billions because they would be lean and efficient: no central bureaucracy.

Surprise! Now charters are suing in Néw York and DC for the same funding as real public schools, you know, the ones that are required to accept English language learners, kids with disabilities, and unmotivated kids.

And guess who is siding with them to drain more money out of the public schools: the U.S. Department of Education’s Office of Civil Rights.

Peter Greene says this is classic bait and switch.

The bait? Charters will save money and get dramatic results for the neediest kids.

Says Greene::

“So here comes the switch. We pitched charter schools as more economical, more efficient, lower-cost alternatives. Now that we’ve got them up and running, we want more money. This is simply a continuation of the policy goal, adored and nurtured from corporate boardrooms to federal offices– the policy goal of shoving public schools aside and replacing them with charter schools. I don’t imagine that public schools will ever be completely done away with, because the charters will need some place to send the students that they refuse to educate, but those public schools will be stripped of resources and filled with the students that nobody wants.

“It is really one of the oldest business tricks in the book, used by everyone from John D. Rockefeller to Jeff Bezos– undercut your competition, and once you’ve bled them dry, boost your price as much as the market will bear. Charters just refine the technique by having federal and state government serve as the vampiric mechanism by which the competition is sucked dry.”

I have always hoped that leaders of the charter industry would call out the frauds in their midst. Where to start? It looks like they have finally turned against the profiteering of Imagine charters. This is from politico.com:

“CRONY CAPITALISM IN THE CHARTER SECTOR? Imagine Columbus Primary Academy in Ohio plans to spend $700,000 on rent this school year. That’s more than the charter school will spend on salaries and benefits, The Columbus Dispatch reports [http://bit.ly/1yrG77D ]. The cost of rent will eat up more than half of the school’s annual state revenue. Meanwhile, Imagine Schools Inc. – one of the nation’s largest charter school operators – rakes in hundreds of thousands in public tax dollars. It’s all thanks to a complicated real estate maneuver, the Dispatch said Sunday. A subsidiary of Imagine Schools Inc., named SchoolHouse Finance, buys buildings and resells them for two or three times the purchase price. SchoolHouse Finance then leases the building from the new owner and rents the space back to Imagine. “It’s legal, but that doesn’t mean it should be,” said Greg Harris, Ohio director of StudentsFirst, an advocacy group that supports charter growth. “We don’t want charter-school operators profiting as landlords.”

- “Let’s call this what this is: Crony capitalism,” Fordham Institute President Michael Petrilli tweeted [http://bit.ly/1s7ZXzT]. At least three states and Washington, D.C. are investigating Imagine for similar practices, the Dispatch noted. One state even shuttered schools operated by Imagine. After an investigation conducted by the St. Louis Post-Dispatch in Missouri, the state board of education shut down six schools run by Imagine in 2012. The paper uncovered real estate deals similar to the ones happening in Ohio and poor academic performance.”

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 113,810 other followers