Wednesday, January 2, 2013

Nancy Loome of Parents Campaign exposes profiteering of charter schools

Nancy Loome of the Parents' Campaign penned an article for today's Clarion-Ledger that exposes one of the big problems with the charter school movement.  It's paid for by big businesses who have something on their minds other than your kid's education: their profits.

From the article:

For-profits pay to influence education legislation to benefit their bottom line. Lobbyists push their agenda, donating to PACs that aren’t required to reveal their funders, running multi-million dollar ad campaigns to influence public opinion, and funding foundations that push their for-profit agenda.  
K-12 Inc. is the largest of several for-profit virtual school companies that are making money hand over fist from state tax dollars, despite an abysmal record.
Since K-12 Inc. is pushing hard for charter schools in Mississippi, this caught my eye.  How bad is that record?
A Pennsylvania study found that 100 percent of the state’s cyber schools, including K-12 Inc., had “significantly worse” outcomes than their traditional public school counterparts, for which the virtual companies were paid $10,000 per student from public school coffers. In turn, K-12 Inc.’s revenues for the first quarter of this fiscal year increased by 14.4 percent to $221.1 million. Last year, K-12 Inc. paid its CEO $5 million. (Emphasis mine)
So if these charter school outfits are failing, how do they keep getting states to go along with charter school legislation?
In Georgia earlier this year, out-of-state groups funded a $3 million ad campaign to push a constitutional amendment broadening Georgia’s charter school statute. According to the Atlanta Journal Constitution, the initiative’s two primary backers were Families for Public School Options, which received 71 percent of its funding from out-of-state corporations and foundations (including K-12 Inc.), and Georgia Public School Families for Amendment One, funded entirely by of Arlington, Va. — not a single Georgia public school family.
If we had a few more real journalists in this state, and a populous that would pay their salaries, we'd have some idea of how deeply corporate money penetrates our charter schools discussions.  It's unfortunate that we don't.

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