Carly Berwick writes about K12’s plan to establish a virtual charter school in New Jersey. It was turned down, but only temporarily, to provide a year of “planning” time.

The poor academic results of K12 cyber charters are well known. They were written about in the New York Times and the Washington Post. They were reviewed negatively by the National Education Policy Center. The most startling statistic –of many–is that K12’s Colorado Virtual Academy had a graduation rate of 12 percent in 2010, compared to 72 percent statewide in regular public schools.

And let’s not forget the money! K12 had revenues of $522 million last year, and its CEO was paid $5 million of taxpayer dollars.

What’s to like?

Yet the “reformers” continue to demand more of these for-profit schools despite their poor academic performance. They continue to insist, despite the evidence, that they are a good choice for children.

Berwick raises an important point: If virtual charters take hold in cities like Newark and Jersey City, what will it do to urban life? Schools are now the center of their community, a place not only for children during the day, but for athletic events and community activities in the afternoons and evenings.

Will it weaken cities to turn their schools into vacant lots? Of course it will.

When will our public officials think of what is good for society and for our shared future?

The only beneficiaries of a new virtual charter in urban New Jersey, as she points out, would be the investors, not the residents of cities struggling to make a comeback.