Thursday, December 8, 2011

Charter and Cyber Funding and Accountability Recap 12/8/11

Here's a collection of some of the previous postings on these topics:

Auditor General Jack Wagner Again Urges General Assembly to Fix Flawed Charter School Funding Formula

Says fix needed before more money is spent on new education initiatives

Press Release HARRISBURG, Pa., Dec. 6, 2011 – Auditor General Jack Wagner today urged the General Assembly to fix an oversight in an education reform bill that recently passed the Senate to address the flawed charter school funding formula, which, he said, is costing taxpayers hundreds of millions of dollars.  “Money is being spent without a clear idea of what it actually costs to educate a child, resulting in a system that is unfair to school districts, charter and cyber charter schools, and most importantly, taxpayers,” Wagner said. “The charter school funding formula must be fixed before the General Assembly considers spending more money on alternative forms of education.”


Here’s coverage of the AG’s report issued in October 2010:

Auditor General Jack Wagner Says State Leadership Must Step Up, Fix Flawed Charter School Funding Formula

Press Release HARRISBURG (Oct. 13, 2010) – Auditor General Jack Wagner said today that the state’s flawed charter school funding formula is costing taxpayers hundreds of millions in additional tax dollars, at a time when the state is facing its toughest economic crisis since the Great Depression, and that there has been no leadership by the Department of Education, the general assembly or the governor to address this fiscal problem.


Read the Auditor General’s Special Report from October 2010:

Special Report: The Commonwealth should revise its charter and cyber charter school funding mechanisms - 10/05/2010 19 page pdf



Stanford Researcher on Cyber Charter Schools: “What we can say right now is that whatever they're doing in Pennsylvania is definitely not working and should not be replicated."


Of 12 PA cyber charters only 2 made AYP for 2011 while 8 were in corrective action status.


According to disclosures reported in Business Week, Pennsylvania’s Agora Cyber Charter School—K12 Inc.’s online school generated $31.6 million for K12 Inc. in the past academic year."

Commentary: In a rush for more charter schools?

“(Western Beaver) ranked 4th in Beaver County on the 2011 PSSA test scores. PA Cyber ranked 14th (scoring below the state average).”
 “Western Beaver invests $12,600 per student with a certified teacher-to-student ration of 12:1; PA Cyber spends $6,677 instructional dollars per student with a certified teacher-to-student ratio of 100:1 ... (PA Cyber has) “a profit margin of nearly $4,000 per student.”

Backyard brawl? Western Beaver brochure criticizes PA Cyber

Posted: Saturday, November 12, 2011
Beaver County Times By Bill Utterback
OHIOVILLE — Superintendent Robert Postupac says the Western Beaver School District wasn’t trying to ignite a backyard brawl when it mailed residents a brochure that targets the Midland-based Pennsylvania Cyber Charter School, along with state legislators and media sources.

Phila., charters to promote top-achieving schools

November 17, 2011|By Martha Woodall, Inquirer Staff Writer

The Philadelphia School District plans to join the City of Philadelphia, the state Department of Education, and two major charter school organizations to set common academic standards, then seek to expand schools that meet them and close those that do not, officials said Wednesday.

Though there has been talk of increasing collaboration and reducing tensions between the district and the city's 80 charter schools for years, the potential of receiving a large grant from the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation was the catalyst for the proposed project, said Lori Shorr, the city's chief education officer.



“There is no reliable evidence that for-profit (cyber) operators provide education that is effective, but there is no question that they are highly effective at turning public tax dollars into private gain.  For example, K12, Inc.’s CEO, during the recent recession, received compensation from “cyber” schools totaling over $2,400,00 per year in 2008, 2009 and 2010.  According to K12, Inc.’s own filings, other executives with the company managed to obtain annual compensation in 2010 ranging from $471,649 to $1,782,614 from their “cyber” school operation.
K12, Inc. can generate such outsized salaries for its executives because it and other operators have convinced some other states (Blogger’s note: like Pennsylvania) to pay “cyber” schools the full per-student allotment of public money that is set aside for actual public schools.  Thus, in some states “cyber” school operators get thousands of tax dollars per student even though they do not have to pay for buildings, ball fields, actual classroom teachers, etc.  K12, Inc’s student to teacher ratio is 50 to 1, one third the 15.7 to 1 ratio in Tenessee’s public schools, yet K12, Inc. and other “cyber” schools often pass on no savings to school systems.”

Tennessee Legislature Memo Regarding Cyber Schools


“However, the cost to the state is about five times higher (around $5000) than the cost for a parent enrolling a child outside a charter school. Obviously, there's much more money to be made by marketing through charter schools rather than directly to individual homeschooling families.”

Cathy Duffy Reviews Blog

K12 online computer-based curriculum

Publisher: K12, Inc., Review last updated: course prices updated 2009

K12, Inc. was formed with an initial $10 million investment. To recoup that investment, K12, Inc. seems to have pinned its financial hopes on tapping into government funding through charter schools and vouchers. (Goldsborough, Margaret W., "A New Enterprise Joins Growing Community of Online Schools," New York Times on the Web, January 24, 2001 ). It's much easier to sell families on K12 if the state pays all the cost and families pay nothing. So K12 has already begun to tap into the charter school funding stream with contracts in Pennsylvania, California, Colorado, and Alaska. Charter schools offering K12 curriculum typically offer additional teacher supervision and computer equipment. However, the cost to the state is about five times higher (around $5000) than the cost for a parent enrolling a child outside a charter school. Obviously, there's much more money to be made by marketing through charter schools rather than directly to individual homeschooling families.

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