Archives

Uncategorized

The Colorado Virtual Academy (COVA) recently broke off its future school management relationship with K12, Inc., a for-profit company that runs virtual public schools around the nation.

Online schools allow students to take their full course load from home computers, and K12 has been a national leader, with close to 85 percent of its revenues coming from public education dollars.

The Colorado charter school’s board of directors decided recently to part ways with the company’s hands-on school management for the 2014-15 school year, according to this article from a Colorado public radio station, KUNC. The school will still use K12-developed coursework and K12 will continue to run the school in 2013-14, according to KUNC.

From KUNC:

Brian Bissell, head of the COVA board, confirmed the change Tuesday. It will go into effect during the 2014-2015 school year. COVA has struggled with poor academic performance in recent years amid questions about K12 Inc.’s management of school resources—including teacher understaffing.

Bissell, who is a K12 Inc. shareholder and has three children enrolled in COVA, says that the school could still use K12’s curriculum but says school leaders have decided that new management is the best option.

“It became clear that at certain points in COVA history the interests of COVA—that is our students and their families, their teachers and Colorado’s taxpayers—these have not always been aligned with K12’s interests,” he said.

The Colorado school has been criticized for its low graduation rates (22 percent in 2011-12, according to state education statistics) and a discovery by state auditors that the school had overcharged $800,000 for 120 students who never attended, weren’t Colorado residents or whose enrollments couldn’t be verified, according to this in-depth 2011 New York Times article.

K12 spokesman Jeff Kwitowski said COVA is continuing to use K12, Inc. to manage the online school in 2013-14, and took issue with the idea that COVA was backing off from its use of the company.

From an email Kwitowski sent N.C. Policy Watch after this post’s initial publication:

We presented a self-management option to COVA Board so they could assume full management and operational control of the school next year, but they declined.  They wanted K12 to manage the school next year and use K12’s curriculum. Furthermore, they wanted the new agreement to state that if they received a new charter, a relationship with K12 would continue.  They voted to ratify the agreement.  In short, they didn’t “dump” K12, they stayed with K12.

Read More

Uncategorized

Buddy CollinsFollowers of The Progressive Pulse will recall a series of articles in recent years about the essentially non-existent nonprofit headed by conservative Wake school board member and 2012 GOP nominee for state Superintendent of Public Instruction, John Tedesco. As we reported here and here and here, the sum detectable output of the North Carolina Center for Education Reform appears to be: a) a semi-schnazzy if, at times, grammatically-challenged website, and b) something for Tedesco to put on his resume to make it looks like he has (or had) an impressive job.  

Now, here’s another  little factoid about Tedesco’s group: its Board of Directors includes controversial state Board of Education nominee, A.L. “Buddy” Collins (pictured above in a photo found at http://equalitync.org).  Read More

Uncategorized

Last week’s Policy Watch profile of state Board of Education nominee A.L. “Buddy” Collins by Education Reporter Lindsay Wagner was enough to cause a believer in public education to have some real concerns about Collins’ appropriateness for the position. Collins admitted in the interview to essentially supporting the entire far-right school privatization agenda.

Over the weekend, however, came more damning news: As reported by Amanda Terkel at the Huffington Post, Collins is also apparently a loyal trooper in the ongoing social conservative effort to oppose laws and policies that protect LGBT kids from bullying.

This is from the HuffPo article:

“A. L. “Buddy” Collins is an attorney and a longtime member of the Winston-Salem/Forsyth County School Board of Education. He has clashed with the Gay, Lesbian and Straight Education Network (GLSEN) over the years surrounding the group’s efforts to stop bullying on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity.

‘Buddy Collins has always been a retrograde voice, inimical to the interests of youth, on the school board,’ said GLSEN Executive Director Eliza Byard. Read More

Uncategorized

A proposed Charlotte charter school had its approval revoked today for extensively plagiarizing large sections of the school’s initial application.

The Cameron Creek Charter School, which would have opened up this fall, was taken out of a batch of 25 charter schools the N.C. State Board of Education was considering final approval. The state board approved 24 of the charter schools.

The Cameron Creek Charter School had large chunks of its 155-page application that were identical to what another group had submitted previously to the state.  The plagiarized application included multiple references to the other proposed charter school, Charlotte Learning Academy, which applied in 2011 but did not get approval from the State Board of Education.

A Cameron Creek out-of-state board member, Melvin Sharpe of Philadelphia, also had been prohibited from practicing law in Pennsylvania for taking funds from clients to use for his own personal uses. Sharpe’s disbarment was first reported last month by N.C. Policy Watch, and was mentioned Wednesday to the state board as an additional reason to rescind the school’s approval.

A representative from the Charlotte Learning Academy discovered the similarity between Cameron Creek’s charter school and their own application when preparing to reapply to open a state and contacted the N.C. Department of Public Instruction’s Office of Charter Schools about the duplication.

The plagiarism, including mention of a different charter school, wasn’t noticed in the application period, when DPI staff, an advisory committee for charter schools and the state education board are tasked with reviewing applications.

Since the N.C. state legislature lifted the 100-school cap on charter schools, DPI has dealt with a flood of interest in the privately-run, publicly-funded schools without a corresponding increase in staff. The office of charter schools had six people tasked with monitoring the 100-plus existing charter schools, as well as reviewing applications for future charter schools. In the next round of applications, 70 groups have applied to open in the 2014-15 school year, while 24 new charter schools will open this fall.

Here’s a list of the schools the state board did give final approval, with links to the schools’ websites: Read More

Uncategorized

The State Board of Education kicked off its two-day monthly meeting on Wednesday with an ambitious agenda. Some of the topics included the teacher evaluation model, a proposal to revamp remediation assessments at community colleges, the sad state of teacher pay, and final approval for 23 of the 25 charter schools that were awarded preliminary charters last August.

One of the two charter schools that was not recommended for final approval by the North Carolina Public Charter School Advisory Council was Cameron Creek Charter School, which NC Policy Watch reporter Sarah Ovaska wrote about for plagiarizing its application for a charter. See her post on that update later today.

Alexis Schauss, director of school business for the NC Department of Public Instruction, presented startling statistics on the abysmal state of teacher pay in North Carolina. Teacher salaries rank 46th in the nation and 10th in the southeastern states, just ahead of West Virginia and Mississippi. In 2012-13, a teacher with five years of experience has a base pay of $31,2220 – and that’s roughly $4,000 less than in 2008-09. Read More