You read that right. Democratic senators want an investigation of virtual charter schools, the kind that I have posted about here about 100 times. They read a report about how shoddy they are, written by the Center for American Progress. That shocked them. They say there is almost no research about these profiteering virtual charter schools that Betsy DeVos and ALEC adore. Apparently, the only research they ever hear about is whatever is written by the Center for American Progress, which loves charters but not vouchers.

Two Democratic senators asked Wednesday for the Government Accountability Office to launch an investigation into the practices and policies of virtual charter schools. The request comes on the same day the Center for American Progress released a report outlining stark academic shortcomings at these schools and a disproportionate focus on profit over quality.

The virtual charter schools have come under scrutiny in states including California and Ohio. But now Democratic Sens. Patty Murray (Wash.) and Sherrod Brown (Ohio) are calling for a more comprehensive look at how these schools work in the 27 states that house them. About 300,000 students attend these online public schools of choice. The enrollment has been steadily increasing over the years.

“There is almost no research on whether virtual charter schools meet student needs, especially for students who require specific accommodations, including English learners and students with disabilities,” says the letter from the senators.

Of course, they are wrong. There has been a great deal of research about the failure of virtual charter schools, much of it by Gary Miron of the Western Michigan University, published by the National Education Policy Center. Here is the latest.

The charter-friendly CREDO at the Hoover Institution at Stanford studied online charter schools in 2015 and determined that their students typically lost a full year of learning in math, and 72 days in reading. (p. 23). That’s like not going to school at all.

The first set of analyses examines the academic growth of online charter students compared to the matched VCRs made up of students who attended brick-and-mortar district-run schools. These schools are typically referred to as traditional public schools (TPS). Compared to their VCRs in the TPS, online charter students have much weaker growth overall. Across all tested students in online charters, the typical academic gains for math are -0.25 standard deviations (equivalent to 180 fewer days of learning) and -0.10 (equivalent to 72 fewer days) for reading (see Figure 3). This means that compared to their twin attending TPS, the sizes of the coefficients leave little doubt attending an online charter school leads to lessened academic growth for the average student.

In addition to research studies documenting the virtual charter sham, there have been many excellent pieces of investigative journalism, like Jesse Calefati’s series on K12, Inc. in California.

And I should mention that I devoted a chapter to virtual charter scams in my 2013 book Reign of Error: The Hoax of the Privatization Movement and the Danger to America’s Public Schools.

What kind of education staff do these senators have? Why is CAP their only source of information?