National Education Policy Center

Special Report: The profit motive behind virtual schools in Maine

Documents expose the flow of money and influence from corporations that stand to profit from state leaders’ efforts to expand and deregulate digital education.

A Maine Sunday Telegram investigation found large portions of Maine’s digital education agenda are being guided behind the scenes by out-of-state companies that stand to capitalize on the changes, especially the nation’s two largest online education providers.

K12 Inc. of Herndon, Va., and Connections Education, the Baltimore-based subsidiary of education publishing giant Pearson, are both seeking to expand online offerings and to open full-time virtual charter schools in Maine, with taxpayers paying the tuition for the students who use the services.

At stake is the future of thousands of Maine schoolchildren who would enroll in the full-time virtual schools and, if the companies had their way, the future of tens of thousands more who would be legally required to take online courses at their public high schools in order to receive their diplomas.

The two companies have at times acted directly, spending tens of thousands of dollars lobbying lawmakers in Augusta and nurturing the creation of the supposedly independent boards for the proposed virtual schools they would operate and largely control.
To read this report in its entirety, please click here

K12, Inc. Advertising Misses a Few Key Points

CEO Ronald Packard’s $5 million salary? Not mentioned.

Nor does K12 mention of the fact that it spent over $26 million on advertising in 2010; or the fact that this advertising budget came from public tax dollars – funds that were supposed to be used educating students.  That $26 million came largely from the money YOU paid in taxes for the purpose of educating ALL Kansas’ students.

K12’s advertising fails to mention its role in efforts to suppress the teaching of evolution in Kansas. K12 also fails to mention how its “flexible” Texas curriculum allows parents to accept or reject specific topics within state-required courses such as biology.

Some teachers wind up with as many as 300 students, and this takes a toll on the curriculum. K12 opted out of sharing the words of parents who spoke to the New York Times, one of whom said “…teachers are not able to keep up with 300 students. The kids are losing out… my son was exempted from “The Great Gatsby” because of the workload of the teacher.”

Finally, K12, Inc.’s advertising fails to mention that the growing for-profit online school market continues to be a major priority for the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC). ALEC, a driving force behind voter-supression and other legislation aimed at disenfranchising the working class, now puts a price tag on our students.

“Which CEO made $5 million stealing your kid’s lunch money?” a new informational video, (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TUBopyWXmAw) covers much of what K12, Inc. selectively ignores. Grassroots efforts like this one won’t air on network television or top-rated radio stations, so you’ll have to make the effort to watch it yourself and share it with others.

To read about all of the other key points that K12 advertising does not mention, please click here so that you can spread the word about K12 and ALEC.