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Write, teacher and activist Paul Buchheit makes three clear, concise and compelling arguments about the state of American public education this morning at Common Dreams:

  1. We should assess teachers better before we hire them. 
  2. Budget cuts are the last thing we ought to be imposing on schools.
  3. Charter schools are an imaginary solution.

You can read the entire piece by clicking here.

 

K12, Inc., the Virginia-based company in the midst of a court battle to open up a virtual charter school in North Carolina, is facing more scrutiny in Florida, this time over caseloads of up to 275 students per teacher.

The high caseloads are for high school grades and were revealed in a confidential K12, Inc. memorandum obtained by Florida Center for Investigative Reporting and StateImpact Florida, two non-profit news agencies.

The caseloads vary based on how much compensation K12, Inc. gets per student, with one higher ratio set for $3000 per student and another for districts that give K12 $4,000 per student.

But those caseload range from 275-to-1, to 225-to-1, much higher than the 150-to-1 ratio that the state-run Florida Virtual School maintains.

From the StateImpact article: Read More

A for-profit virtual school company fighting to open a public school in North Carolina isaccused of violating state law in Florida by having teachers falsify attendance records.

K12, Inc., a Virginia-based company that runs online-based public schools in 29 states, is under investigation by the Florida education department after several K12 teachers refused to sign class rosters with students the teachers had never taught.

From the Florida Center for Investigative Reporting, which reported on the Florida investigation Tuesday:

The Florida Department of Education has launched an investigation of K12, the nation’s largest online educator, over allegations the company uses uncertified teachers and has asked employees to help cover up the practice.

In one case, a K12 manager instructed a certified teacher to sign a class roster of more than 100 students. She only recognized seven names on that list.

“I cannot sign off on students who are not my actual students,” K12 teacher Amy Capelle wrote to her supervisor. “It is not ethical to submit records to the district that are inaccurate.” Read More

A Wake Superior Court judge will announce his decision Friday on whether a virtual charter school should open this fall, after the N.C. Board of Education neglected to take up its application.

The State Board of Education is asking Judge Abe Jones to set aside an administrative judge’s order and give the state board a second chance decide if the virtual charter school should be approved to open up in North Carolina. (The state education board didn’t act on the virtual charters application earlier this spring, saying they had already announced they weren’t going to take up online-only charter schools this year).

N.C. Learns, the non-profit set up to house the K12, Inc.-run school, wants the administrative law judge’s order to hold, so that they can open up this fall and begin recruiting students.  The company expects to find 2,750 students statewide in its first year, meaning more than $18 million of public education funding would be diverted from the already-tight budgets of public schools around the state.

The virtual charter school would be run by K12, Inc., a for-profit online education company that runs similar online-only school in 29 other states. Students at virtual schools take their classes online from their home computers, paid for by taxpayers.

There have been a lot of questions about the quality of K12 schools, with states like Ohio reporting four-year graduation rates as low as 30 percent, and down to 12.2 percent for black students.

North Carolina’s cohort graduation rate is 77.9 percent overall, and 71.5 percent for black students and 68.8 for Latinos.

In this case, The North Carolina Virtual Academy would be run by K12, and be open to students statewide. The school would get the same per-pupil amount as other charter schools get (ranges from $7,000 to $10,000, depending on where the student lives and if they are special needs), despite not having to shoulder the cost of having a physical school and paying for the building costs, and all that goes along with that.

This is just a quick update, and you can read more here about the hearing in today’s News & Observer, as well as this story from WRAL.

Check back with N.C. Policy Watch later on, where we’ll have more detailed account about yesterday’s hearing as well as Judge Abe Jones’ decision Friday.

A for-profit company’s bid to corner a share of N.C.’s public education market turned into reality earlier this month when an administrative law ruled the school could open.

In a May 8 ruling from the bench, Judge Beecher Gray, of the N.C. Office of Administrative Hearings, ruled in favor of N.C. Learns, a non-profit set up house the cyber school run and marketed by K12, Inc. and gave the school a go-ahead to open.

Late last week, Gray released his written order (click here to read it) :

Respondent [N.C. State Board of Education]‘s failure to act or grant final approval to Petitioner [N.C. Learns/K12]‘s Request for final approval of its application by the date required by statute (March 15, 2012) was made as a result of using an improper procedure or no procedure; was affected by errors of law or rule; and was arbitrary, capricious, and an abuse of discretion.

It’ll be the first virtual charter school in the state, and unless the state appeals, the school run by a Wall Street company will open up this fall. As many as 1,750 students in its first year, or $18 million in state education funding, could end up in the school’s coffers.

The company has been under fire in other states, where critics claim it puts profits over education. In New Jersey this week, a lawmaker introduced a bill that would temporarily halt any more cyber schools from opening.

In North Carolina, the for-profit-run school took a little-known about route to seek approval for a statewide charter school, and convinced the Cabarrus County school board to back their proposal.

(Helping was K12, Inc.’s hiring of a former Cabarrus County lawmaker to lobby the school board, and a current state Senator hired on to be the lawyer for N.C. Learns, the non-profit set up to get the charter from the state for the school). The company also said it would send four percent of the public education dollars back to Cabarrus County schools in exchange for backing the proposal.

Final approval for the charter school was supposed to be in the hands of the N.C. State Board of Education, but the state board ignored the application and let a March 15 deadline outlined in state statutes go by without any action.

The N.C. State Board of Education has 30 days to appeal Gray’s order to Superior courts in either Wake or Cabarrus counties.