by David Safier
My monthly column in The Explorer came out today. The subject is my current obsession, for-profit online education corporation K12 Inc., its local charter school Arizona Virtual Academy, and Craig Barrett, Gov. Brewer's education right hand man and K12 Inc. board member. So much is happening on those three fronts right now, it's hard to keep up. [Note: Read the online version. There are some serious problems with the print version that was delivered to people's doorsteps.]
A few excerpts:
Arizona Virtual Academy (AZVA) is an online charter school. It has no school buildings and no classrooms. Its 4,200 students sit at home getting their lessons from their computers and from textbooks the school provides. Many of the teachers work out of their homes; some “teach” as many as 300 students.
K12 Inc. knows many of its students are ill-suited for online learning. In fact, recruiting those students is part of its business plan, because more students means more money, and more money means higher profits. The corporation runs call centers which target potential dropouts and special education students, feeding their parents misleading information about how well their children will do.
Meanwhile, my 2008 story about K12 Inc. outsourcing student papers to India has resurfaced in Idaho, first in an op ed by teacher Travis Manning, then in a story on Boise's NPR station. Both refer back to my 5 year old posts about K12 Inc. online schools in 10 states sending student essays to a company in India where employees scored and commented on the students' papers. It was done without the parents' knowledge and was discontinued because my posts were picked up in Arizona and in the national Education Week.
I plan to write later about the lies and inaccuracies spouted by the K12 Inc. spokesman in the NPR story. Honestly, if the corporation can't come clean about a practice it apologized for and quit 5 years ago, how can we believe any of its pronouncements explaining its current problems?