#4 K12 INC Fake Schools
4.1 Why All Parents Need to Learn About the Drawbacks of K12 INC
4.2 From Junk Bonds to Junk Schools
4.3 K12 Distortions, Deceptions and Outright Lies
4.4 Free Open Source Alternatives to K12 INC
We begin by reviewing the history of K12 Inc. We then describe some of the major drawbacks of K12 INC. We then debunk several myths and lies promoted by K12 INC. Finally, we summarize free open source alternatives to K12 INC for the small percentage of students that might actually benefit from an online educational program.
The problem with K12 INC is that it is a for profit corporation. It therefore is driven to lie to increase market share and increase sales and profits. It therefore sells itself as the magic cure to education – just as high stakes tests are sold as the magic cure and common core standards are sold as the magic cure and charter schools are sold as the magic cure. Because the future of our children is at stake, parents have a right to know the full truth about all of these programs. All of them harm children rather than help them. So why do they continue to grow like a cancer destroying our education system? The answer is “Greed.” Where there is a profit to be made, some billionaire will be willing to step in and fund the scam in order to get some of the billions of dollars we invest as tax payers in the education of our children. With the case of online education, one billionaire in particular – Bill Gates - has a dream that one day all children will receive the benefits of online education (which just coincidentally benefits his corporation Microsoft). His plan is to turn every school in the US into an online school like K12 INC. We know this sounds crazy. But read on and we will show you.
The Real Plan to Takeover and Privatize our Public Schools
The plan to takeover and privatize our public schools is not merely to use Common Core Fake National Standards and high stakes, high failure rate national tests to declare public schools as failures and thereby replace them with private, for profit charter schools – the real plan is to replace charter schools with for profit online schools like K12 INC.
There are many “benefits” to this plan in the eyes of the super rich who are backing it. First and foremost is that the billionaires can get rid of those pesky, expensive and hard to control public school teachers. Also, all children, or at least the children of the poor and middle classes, would receive the same online education – a centralized national education where the standards, the curriculum, the tests and the database of results are all controlled by private corporations which are owned by the billionaires.
There would also be no need for other expensive things like brick and mortar schools, school buses,, school secretaries, school principals, school janitors, lunchroom cooks, school counselors, school nurses, school librarians or playground attendants. The entire process of educating the masses could be accomplished much more efficiently for a fraction of the current cost. Best of all, the entire process could be “programmed,” controlled and monopolized by a few billionaires – just like the Windows operating system. One operating system for all, one set of national standards for all and one giant online national school system for all.
We realize such a monstrous scheme may seem insane to most parents and most teachers. But billionaires live in a different world than the rest of us. They have so much money that they get detached from reality. They have no idea of what it takes to raise a child or educate a child. And they do not really care.
Real parents and real teachers know that real children were never intended to sit in front of a computer screen to be brain washed hour after hour and day after day. Real children need to interact with each other and interact with real teachers in real time. Real children need to sing and play and draw and build. Real children need to watch real teachers and their classmates as they solve problems and improve skills. Each child is different and unique and learns in a different way and at a different rate. Only a real teacher who knows the child and watches the child on a daily basis will be able to help each child achieve their full potential. There is no way that any computer program will be able to replace a real teacher.
But in the eyes of billionaires, their plan is not about maximizing the potential of every child. It is about maximizing the profits of every billionaire. The goal is not high standards for children. It is about high profits for the super rich.
In our last section, we noted that K12 INC started its first online school in Pennsylvania in September 2001 – just in time for the 911 disaster. Here we will calculate the cost to tax payers of this and other K12 INC fake online ed scams. The total is now in the billions of dollars and rising every year.
Calculating the Total Harm to Tax Payers
Currently, PAVCS is one of the largest online schools in the country and has about 10,000 students in Grades K through 12. It spends more than one million dollars per year just on advertising! In 2005, K12 INC set up another cyber school in Pennsylvania called Agora. It also has about 10,000 students. Pennsylvania tax payers give these schools about $8,000 per student. The total sucked out of Pennsylvania tax payers is therefore about $160 million per year – or about 20% of K12 INC's annual revenue. For this massive amount of money, PAVCS and Agora have among the lowest test scores and highest drop out rates of any school in the nation. Combine this with $140 million sucked out of Pennsylvania by gold digger poorly performing charter schools and the total loss to Pennsylvania tax payers is more than $300 million per year.
One former teacher from Pennsylvania's Agora Cyber Charter School, which is run by K12 Inc., said she was assigned 300 students but had no idea how many attended class. Here is a quote from this teacher: "I taught English at Agora from 2010-12. It was a horrible experience. When I started, I was assigned 300 students, which was very, very overwhelming. For each class, I'd have maybe seven out of 30 students attend – and even among those seven, just because their name was there showing them present doesn't mean they were at their computers. A huge portion of my students never showed up or did anything. I have no clue what happened to them, though I have no doubt Agora was charging the state for them. When it came time to give grades, I was told, whatever I had to do, I had to pass every student. I would not say there was much learning going on.”
One does not have to look far to figure out why the Pennsylvania State legislature allows K12 INC and other charter scam artists to steal $300 million per year from the State taxpayers. Just since 2007, K12 Inc. has spent $681,000 on lobbying, according to the New York Times. It has 11 registered lobbyists, according to the National Institute on Money in State Politics. K12 Inc. has also used a fake grassroots group called “Pennsylvania Families for Public Cyber Schools” to lobby for it. This fake K12 Inc. funded group spent $250,000 on lobbying in the last five years, with all of the money coming from K12 INC according to the New York Times. The head of K12 INC, Ron Packard, has called lobbying (also known as bribery) a “core competency” at K12 INC.
In 2002, K12 INC added the Ohio Virtual Academy (OVA). OVA currently has about 13,000 students sucking about $100 million per year out of Ohio tax payers. It also has extremely low test scores and an extremely high student drop out rate. In 2012, K12’s OVA had a 30 percent on-time graduation rate, compared with a state average of 78 percent. K12's Pennsylvania online charter schools did even worse. Their on-time graduation rate was only 12 percent compared with 72 percent statewide in Pennsylvania. One does not have to look long to figure out why the Ohio State legislature allows K12 INC to steal $100 million per year from Ohio tax payers. The New York Times 2012 article also reports that K12 Inc. is connected to a fake grassroots group called “My School, My Choice.” This fake group organized protests in Ohio against reforming the state formula for financing charter and online schools. The protesters turned out to be paid temp agency workers. Tim Dirrim, the founder of “My School, My Choice,” is the board president of the K12 Inc. managed Ohio Virtual Academy!
A sharp reporter interviewed a couple of the protesters – who openly admitted that they were temp workers who had been paid to protest in favor of online charter schools!
Also in 2002, K12 INC added the California Virtual Academy (CAVA).
CAVA currently has online programs in 10 different locations in California with a total of about 8,000 students for a total cost to California tax payers of about $70 million. Almost half of these students are in the Los Angeles School District – meaning that the loss to the Los Angeles School district is about $40 million per year. At this point, we should explain that in nearly every State, K12 INC offers school districts who “sponsor” them a bribe or kickback of about 5% of whatever K12 INC takes in. So it is likely that the LA school district got about about a $2 million kickback. But K12 INC likely got the other $38 million. It is hard to tell precisely with K12 INC because they have hidden contracts which very from State to State and even from School District to School District.
Also in 2002, K12 INC added the Wisconsin Virtual Academy (WIVA). K12 INC made a deal with the Northern Ozaukee School Board and started with 455 students. The school district got four percent of whatever public funding K12 took in. However, because they were advertising in other school districts and robbing kids from other school districts, there was a lot of conflict and eventually in 2008, the whole program temporarily shut down. In 2009, the program was moved to a new school district, the McFarland School District. It currently has about 1,000 students costing Wisconsin State tax payers about $8 million per year.
In 2003, K12 INC added Colorado Virtual Academy (COVA), which currently has more than 5,000 students and costs Colorado tax payers about $40 million per year. A 2011 study found that over half of all K12 INC students in Colorado fail to make it through even a single year before dropping out of the program. The graduation rate is only 25%! https://gazette.com/article/126009
A former teacher from the Colorado Virtual Academy said, "Three-quarters of my credit recovery kids never logged in, never completed any work, never answered their emails or phone calls, yet they remained on my class rosters. I began wondering about the state-mandated hours for students at the high school level. No one is monitoring this as far as I can see."
Why are we using Data from Washington State in this Section?
The reason we are using the state of Washington for our example is first because we have better access to data about students in the State of Washington than we have in other states. Also, there has already been a great deal written and published online about the harm inflicted by K12 INC on children in other States – including the states of Pennsylvania, Florida, Colorado and Ohio (just do a Google Search). As you will see, the story in Washington State is remarkably similar to the story of harm in these other states. This is because all children and all parents in all states will have about the rate of failure if they try to replace a real public school and public school teacher with the fake K12 INC program. The one difference we noted here in Washington State was that K12 INC appears to be targeting wealthy white children rather than poor minority children. The result is still the same – a huge percentage of children fail in this program regardless of their family income level.
Washington Virtual Academy (WAVA)
The Washington Virtual Academy is an online education program being run through the Omak and Monroe School Districts. It is the second largest of about a dozen online schools being run here in Washington State. The largest is called Insight Academy and is run through the Quilayute School District. Each has a different name and is run through a different school district. But in the end, they are all the same online program and they are all actually run by a national for-profit corporation called K12 INC.
What can we learn from K12 INC problems in other States?
Lawsuits and court declarations from more than 20 former K12 teachers and other former K12 employees accuse K12 Inc of using uncertified teachers and having teacher case loads of 300 to 400 students per teacher. They also accuse K12 of lying to parents about the record of K12 in order to deceive parents into signing their children up for the K12 program. K12 spends $30 million per year (all from the tax payers) to advertise to children on the Disney channel. K12 INC also spends millions more dollars bribing our elected representatives into passing laws making it easy for K12 INC to rob public schools and increase their corporate profits.
Huge Turnover in Students every year
K12 INC gets $6,000 to $9,000 in State tax payer dollars for every student they convince to enter their program. Nationally, over 120,000 students out of our nation’s 50 million school children sign up for the K12 program each September. Of these 120,000 children, about 70,000 children – or well over half of these children - drop out during their first year.
Ironically, because K12 Inc continues to recruit more parents and children throughout the school year, the 70,000 children who drop out are replaced by 70,000 more students so by the end of the school year in May, there are actually more students in K12 online classes than there were at the beginning of the school year – despite the fact that more than half of the initial students dropped out and they are all different students!
Open Educational Resources (OER) are teaching and learning materials that exist in the public domain or have been released under an open license. This means that those resources can be used free of charge, distributed widely and are often more up-to-date than textbooks. In most cases, OER can be updated and modified without asking the content creator for permission. OER may be used by any teacher, parent or any student as entire courses, full units, lesson-plan components or supplemental material. Depending on the course, teachers also might be able to download and print a textbook, display video and audio lectures, build and share lesson plans, access free books in the public domain, experience interactive simulations and/or gather and assemble resources like photos, sounds and diagrams. Many open resources may be downloaded in pdf formats and printed on a personal printer or in the case of OER textbooks, sent to a Print on Demand Service such as Lulu or CreateSpace.
In April 2012, the Washington State Legislature passed bill HB2337, directing the Office of the Superintendent of Public Instruction to create a collection of openly licensed course ware aligned to the common-core standards and an associated awareness campaign to inform school districts about these resources. By developing this library of openly licensed course ware and making it available to school districts free of charge, the state and school districts will be able to provide students with curricula and texts while substantially reducing the expenses that districts would otherwise incur in purchasing these materials.
In addition, this library of openly licensed courses provide districts and students with a broader selection of materials, and materials that are more up-to-date.”
OSPI’s OER Project will develop a review process that acts as a model for districts considering the adoption of full-course OER. The results of the review will be a resource for schools and classrooms.
If we cooperate and share, we can build a free online educational program where everyone wins. Teachers have more choices when building their own courses. Teachers and students can work together to solve problems. Students and school districts can reduce the cost by reducing the number of expensive and heavy text books. But most important, students learn that access to digital knowledge is a human right and a social justice issue. We are building a freer and more knowledgeable world.
From the OER website, anyone can download complete textbooks and full course materials. There is even a search box where you can enter search terms for presentations, ebooks, videos, lesson plans, text books and full courses. Many other States also have similar free online course resources.
Here is a summary of other free online educational programs and resources taken from the Washington State OSPI website.