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Here’s another tidbit about K12, Inc., the publicly-traded company trying to open up a virtual charter school in North Carolina.

K12, (NYSE:LRN), the largest virtual education company in the nation, spent $21.5 million in the first eight months of 2012 advertising the online public charter schools it operates in 29 states, according to an article that ran yesterday in USA Today. (My colleague Chris Fitzsimon also made mention of that in his Friday Follies column today).

That’s a decent amount to spend on advertising, especially considering that 85 percent of the company’s revenue comes from public sources. Click here to read more about the ad buys, and how USA Today calculated the estimates.

Lots of ads ran on kid-friendly media outlets, including Nickelodeon, The Cartoon Network and MeetMe.com, a social media site used by teens (and tweens).

The company also may be trying to tap into the disaffected youth market – it spent $3,000 to advertise on VampireFreaks.com, which bills itself as “the Web’s largest community for dark alternative culture,” according to the USA Today article.

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K12, Inc., a for-profit virtual education company looking to open a statewide virtual school in North Carolina, took a fairly major hit yesterday on Wall Street when a stocks analyst downgraded the company’s performance outlook.

A Wells Fargo analyst took the stock from a favorable “outperform” stock rating Monday to a more neutral rating of “market performance” based on ongoing questions being brought up about the quality of education it offers at Colorado Virtual Academy, according to KUNC, a public radio station in Colorado.

The company (NYSE: LRN) has the largest reach of for-profit online providers in the country, and runs virtual public schools in 29 states. Students from kindergarten to 12th grade can take their entire school curriculum from their home computer, at the expense of public taxpayers.

The Colorado online school had a graduation rate of just 12 percent in 2010. To compare, North Carolina’s statewide graduation rate topped 80 percent for the first time last year, a number that political leaders of all stripes say is still too low.

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N.C. Learns, the group behind a proposal for a virtual charter school, plans on appealing a Wake Superior Court judge’s order that put the school’s plans on indefinite hold.

The school would have been run by K12, Inc., a Wall Street-traded educational company that gets most of its revenue from public dollars for online-only schools it runs in more than two dozen state around the country.

Wake Judge Abraham Jones ruled on June 29 that the state board didn’t have to review an application  submitted by the online-only school, and overturned an administrative judge’s decision to grant the school permission to open.  (Click here to read a past story about the case.)

N.C. Learns, a non-profit whose start-up costs are being paid for by K12, Inc., is appealing Jones’ order to the N.C. Court Of Appeals, according to a notice of appeal filed in the Wake County Courthouse July 27.

The N.C. School Board Association and the N.C. Justice Center joined the state board in opposing the virtual charter school, arguing that school districts around the state would have their funds depleted for an online-only school with questionable performance in other states. (N.C. Policy Watch is a project housed under the N.C. Justice Center, an anti-poverty statewide advocacy group.)

The appeal is also seeking to overturn Jones’ decision to allow the school board association from intervening in the case, according to the notice written by state Sen. Fletcher Hartsell, who was hired to serve as the attorney for the proposed virtual school.

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This morning’s Charlotte Observer editorial gets it just about right in its take on K12, Inc. — the big for-profit cyber-schools company. The editorial comes as a follow-up to a recent study by the National Education Policy Center which found that K12 has a generally abysmal record in educating kids:

“Online learning does have great value and popularity. The state’s N.C. Virtual Public School program offers courses to high school students across the state – often courses that don’t have high demand but ones that students in various parts of the state need or desire, and courses that students have flunked which can be recovered without students having to go back through a whole semester.

But the K12 Inc. managed school would be different. It would operate as a standalone school, completely online, taking in students from anywhere in the state.

Whether that’s a good idea is worth debating. But K12 Inc.’s involvement is another matter. The report from the National Center for Education Policy should prompt a thorough investigation before K12 Inc.’s application goes forward.”

Of course,  like so many other sharks looking to cash in on the privatization of our schools and other essential public structures, K12 is already employing a virtual fleet of high-powered lobbyists to represent it in the General Assembly. So, whatever the continued fallout from the NEPC repport, don’r expect the company to leave North Carolina alone anytime soon..

The Winston-Salem Journal has a story this morning about the new national report (reported here last week by Sarah Ovaska) that slams the student outcomes produced by K12 Inc., the for-profit corporation that is lobbying hard to run charter schools in North Carolina — including a so-called “virtual charter” in Cabarrus County. (The group currently employs seven registered lobbyists in North Carolina).

“A report released last week shows that students enrolled at K12 Inc., an online school company linked to a nonprofit group in Cabarrus County, are falling behind in reading and math scores compared with students in traditional brick-and-mortar schools. Read More