I will protect your pensions. Nothing about your pension is going to change when I am governor. - Chris Christie, "An Open Letter to the Teachers of NJ" October, 2009

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

A Virtual Diaster In the Making

After all of the embarrassment the NJDOE has suffered due to their broken charter school application process, you would think they'd be proceeding with extreme caution before introducing another hair-brained scheme.

Not a chance:
As New Jersey awaits a decision on its first online charter schools, the operator of three of those proposed schools isn’t taking any chances.
Officials of K12 Inc., the nation’s largest online education firm, are in Newark this week continuing to wrap up the details for the three schools it would manage, one an entirely online venture from kindergarten through 12th grade and two others that blend online and in-person instructions for high school students. 
The three have each won preliminary approval from the state. Now, they're waiting for a decision this week on the final charters needed to open in the fall.
In the meantime, top K12 executives and staff were traveling to Newark and neighboring cities yesterday to continue to sign up students and get their documents in order.
“We’re visiting families one by one,” said Peter Stewart, K12’s vice-president for school development, who was among those doing the visits. “We’re continuing to get documents from everyone, it’s an ongoing process.”
Maybe they could supplement their revue streams by cross-selling some Amway products as they go door-to-door...

This is insane. We know the performance of these schools is abysmal. We know that K12 is being sued by its own investors. We know that, right across the Delaware, Pennsylvania's virtual charters have been a wreck.

According to SOSNJ, these schools - which have no building infrastructure to maintain and a fraction of the personnel costs - will get 90% of the normal per pupil costs for each child enrolled. The money will come out of the sending districts' budget, with no local oversight whatsoever. That's right: if a home-schooled kid from your district - a kid you're not currently paying for - enrolls in this dubious enterprise, you have to pick up the tab, and your local school board can't even check to see what they're getting for your money.

That is simply crazy.

But you know how we roll in Jersey: no idea where we're going, but full speed ahead!
Meanwhile, the state Board of Education has put off its next discussion of the administration’s proposed charter school regulations, including provisions that would specifically accommodate online charters for the first time.
The board was expecting to take up the regulations at its monthly meeting tomorrow, but apparently the sheer volume of public comment at a hearing last month has forced it to push it ahead to August. The next phase of the deliberations involves accepting the regulations as a final proposal, with another three months before a final vote.
“The department got so many comments, they wanted more time to review them,” said Arcelio Aponte, the board’s president. “It’s not often we get so many on one topic -- literally hundreds -- and I think they wanted to be thorough.”
Let me get this straight: the state BOE wants to take time to review public commentary... but, as they do that, we'll just plow ahead and grant charters to a company that performs terribly and is facing a class action lawsuit.

This needs to be stopped immediately. If there was ever a time for the legislature to act, this is it.

I'm sorry Dave, but I'm afraid you'll have to pay me for my new charter school...


KR said...

William Librera, who just oversaw the J.C. Supe search is connected here too.

Unknown said...

Yeah, this seems to be trying to take off big time. I received a few emails a couple days ago asking me to register my daughter for K12. What a joke...I would never.

Deb said...

Duke, as usual we are in debt to you for your coverage of these critical issues. My only comment is that the while the education will be virtual, the disaster will be very real. We must keep these crooks out of our state!


Unknown said...

Hey y'all, we're racing to the TOP in TN. Union County, one of the poorest counties in TN, contracts with K12 to provide online public (hahahaha) school (HAHAHAHAHA!)

Union County got 4% of K12 profits. Last year K12 made $6 million all paid by our public tax dollars. How 'bout that?

Who wouldn't want to enroll their future Harvard grad in K12? Their "exceptional" curriculum and "high quality" tuition free public education is a ticket to wealth and employment!

The list of cyberschool profiteer-owners is top heavy with the usual suspects who circulate in powerful DC circles leveraging their connections for lucrative contacts.

Profiting off of poor kids scarce public school money exposes the rot at the core of DoEd and their shameless promotion of cyber snake oil.

Accountability is meaningless.