The Wall Street sharks who want to buy up our public education system do not appear inclined to go away quietly. After being rebuffed by state education officials and failing thus far to get what they want in the courts, K-12, Inc. (the troubled, for-profit, “virtual” charter school company) has turned to what it undoubtedly expects will be a more hospitable forum — the General Assembly.
As N.C. Policy Watch reporter Sarah Ovaska reported yesterday afternoon, K-12 lobbyists have prevailed upon a state lawmaker to enter legislation that would put the company on the path to open its proposed online charter in North Carolina. For people who care about public schools, this should be a very worrisome development. This is from Ovaska’s report:
Tennessee lawmakers are debating limiting enrollment after finding its K12-run school was one of the lowest performing in the state in its first year of operation, with 16 percent of school’s 3,200 students meeting state standards in math. A Virginia school district on the North Carolina border recently decided to stop hosting one of the company’s statewide schools there, and a draft report of a Florida education department investigation found the school had three teachers teaching classes they weren’t certified to teach.”
Unfortunately, K-12’s widely reported troubles do not seem to have dissuaded Rep. Jon Hardister. The Greensboro-area Representative actually directed legislative staff to draft an amendment to an education bill that would have simply bypassed normal school approval processes and authorized K-12 to commence operations. Yesterday, however, Hardister told Ovaska that he had decided to push a slightly less ambitious amendment that would simply force the State Board of Education to give K-12 “a fair hearing.” That’s legislative code for “do what I tell you or else.”
The K-12 power play is, of course, just the latest in a long series of privatization initiatives that have been on the move this year in the General Assembly, including most notably, a plan to introduce a private school voucher program.
Happily, defenders of public education are mobilizing on several fronts to fight back against the privatization schemes.
This morning, former Congressman and State Superintendent Bob Etheridge and local civic, education and business leaders will hold a press conference and rally at 11:00 am in Cary in support of strong public education and in opposition to schemes being proposed in the legislature. Click here for more information.
And on Monday the 13th, the good people at Public Schools First NC and several co-sponsors will host an important gathering around similar issues from 7:00 -9:00 p.m. at Pullen Memorial Baptist Church, 1801 Hillsborough Street in Raleigh.