Larry Cuban recounts the short history of AltSchool, which was intended to be a progressive moneymaker but flamed out  and has been replaced by another company called Altitude Learning.

Another chapter is added to the annals of the for-profit education history.

Cuban writes:

Begun by wealthy high-tech entrepreneur (and ex-Google executive) Max Ventilla in 2013, AltSchool made a splash with its string of private “micro-schools” in New York City and the San Francisco Bay area (tuition was $26,000)–see here, here, and here. Ventilla saw AltSchool as a string of lab schools where progressive ideas could be put into practice and the individualized software that staff designed and used in the “micro-schools” could be bought and used in public schools.

AltSchool “micro-schools’ were ungraded, used project-based learning complete with individually designed “playlists,” small classes, and experienced young teachers. Were John and Evelyn Dewey alive, they would have enrolled their six children in AltSchool.

I stopped here to wonder what the socialist John Dewey, the philosopher of democracy and the common good, would have thought about for-profit schools.

Ventilla’s dream collapsed when he realized that he was spending $40 million a year and taking in revenues of $7 million.

So AltSchool is now evolving into Altitude Learning, a “platform” that will be sold to charters, public schools, and other customers.

Ventilla passes the torch:

In a blog post six months earlier, Ventilla signaled readers that AltSchool would be changing.

In 2017 we were fortunate to attract a number of world-class career educators and administrators to our team, to guide everything we do. Moving forward, I am pleased to announce Ben Kornell will become President of AltSchool. Ben joined our team back in 2017 as VP of Growth. He’s dedicated his life to reducing educational inequity; he started as a Teach for America middle school teacher and later went to Stanford Business School to learn how to cultivate educational change broadly. As COO of Envision, he helped lead a network of charter schools and scaled a performance assessment system to public schools across the country. Since joining AltSchool, Ben’s led our company’s transition to partnering with public and private schools nationwide. As we continue to integrate the platform into existing school systems, it is essential to have education leaders like Ben at the helm.

Another entry into the annals of Corporate Reform.

My suggestion to corporate reformers hoping to get rich by investing in the education industry.

Read Jonathan A. Knee, Class Clowns: How the Smartest Investors Lost Billions in Education.  

And Samuel Abrams’ illuminating account of the rise and fall of the Edison Project, in Education and the Commercial Mindset.