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Today’s Fitzsimon File explains why state education officials need to prevent the state’s pending expansion of charter schools from getting out of control — something that’s not entirely clear they’ll be able to pull off. As the column notes:

“They are public schools funded by public dollars. That demands public scrutiny and accountability, not to mention the need for answers to a lot of troubling questions before any decisions are made.”

Read the entire post by clicking here.

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Today’s “Monday numbers” edition of the Fitzsimon File looks into some of the rather startling numbers related to the state’s mad rush to expand charter schools. Among other things, they offer additional evidence that the myth about charters being “laboratories of innovation” that will somehow lead to improvements in traditional schools is just that — a myth.

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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..

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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