Friday, May 25, 2012

K12 Inc.: Churn, baby churn…….

Daily postings from the Keystone State Education Coalition now reach more than 1500 Pennsylvania education policymakers – school directors, administrators, legislators, members of the press and a broad array of education advocacy organizations via emails, website, Facebook and Twitter.

These daily emails are archived at
Follow us on Twitter at @lfeinberg

K12 Inc.: Churn, baby churn…….
“Agora grew like a wildfire in the 2010 school year. A total of 7,578 students were signed up through the course of the school year, of whom 4,718 were in place in September. Throughout the year, a total of 2,688 dropped out for a student turnover, or churn rate, of 35.5%.”
“….the growth of the student bodies themselves are a clear testament to the popularity of the school choice and charter school movement, as well as K12’s comprehensive online marketing and enrollment advisory efforts.  Just as evident, however, is another reality: the fact that these cyber schools might as well have a turnstile as their logo for the volume of withdrawals they experience. “
K12: A Corporate Destiny Manifested
The Financial Investigator, February 27, 2012
An April 23, 2010 E-mail from Kevin Corcoran to a host of his colleagues is likely the sort that, in one form or another, millions of Americans deal with regularly during the work day.
Bluntly noting “We have not made the progress we need to in this area,” Corcoran adds, “More than $1[million] in funding” is in the balance.”
“Anyone who has not fulfilled their obligation in this area should not be surprised….when it’s time to discuss performance evaluations, bonuses and raises.”
The $1 million in question isn’t from a customer but represents tuition and fees from Pennsylvania’s various school districts to an online public charter school called Agora. In turn Agora pays Corcoran’s employer, K12 Inc. many millions of dollars annually to provide the curriculum and administer the school. There is a lot at stake in collecting this money since Agora and a sister school in Ohio, the Ohio Virtual Academy, represent about 26% of K12′s annual revenues.

Related New York Times article:
Profits and Questions at Online Charter Schools, 12/12/11 by Stephanie Saul

Originally Published: 5/24/2012  
Reading schools could cut up to 364 workers
Jobs in jeopardy in budget balancing act
David Mekeel Reading Eagle
The Reading School District is planning to lay off as many as 364 employees to balance its nearly $220 million 2012-13 budget, district officials announced Wednesday.
In a room filled with dozens of district employees - and even more listening from outside the board room in the district administration building - the Reading School Board voted 7-2 to pass a $219.6 million tentative budget. Members Harry P. Storch Jr. and Rebecca Acosta voted against the spending plan.
For the first time in nearly a decade, the budget would raise school property taxes in Reading. The tax rate would be hiked 2.8 percent to 16.92 mills, the maximum the district can raise taxes by state law. The tax rate would still be the lowest for Berks County school districts.

“… there is no prohibition on EITC scholarships going to students already attending private schools; middle-class families are eligible to receive scholarships (the income limit for a family of four is $84,000); and there is no evidence that even this income limit is enforced. 
…The lack of definitive evidence on who receives scholarships under Pennsylvania's EITC program is consistent with the overall lack of accountability in the program, which has now cost Pennsylvania taxpayers more than a third of a billion dollars”


Third and State Blog Posted by Stephen Herzenberg on May 23, 2012 3:19 pm
A story in Monday's New York Times explores the use of state tax credit programs to pay for "scholarships" for students who attend private schools. The story suggests that many of the students who receive such scholarships already attend private school and are not low-income.
To the extent that this is true, the political marketing of these programs as alternatives (for a select few students) to public schools in distressed communities is a "bait and switch." Educational tax credits actually siphon taxpayer dollars to subsidize private schools, reducing state revenues available for public schools.
Is this how the scholarships to attend private schools work under Pennsylvania's Educational Improvement Tax Credit (EITC) program?

New York Times Published: May 21, 2012

Comparing Major Tax-Credit Programs

A number of states have or are considering scholarship tax-credit programs to finance private school tuition. Some of these programs, which offer state tax credits to corporations and individuals who donate to nonprofit scholarship organizations, have been criticized for abuses. A comparison of tax-credit scholarship programs from Florida, Georgia, Pennsylvania and Arizona, which offers three separate programs.     Related NYT Article »

Legislation in Harrisburg could help distressed schools
Published: Wednesday, May 23, 2012
The state Senate Education Committee approved Tuesday legislation designed to aid school districts in financial distress by providing a state bureaucrat to develop a financial recovery plan.
The committee voted, 7-3, to endorse the provisions of Senate Bill 1450, sponsored by Chairman Jeffrey Piccola, R-15, of Dauphin County, as an amendment to House Bill 1307.

Pa. eyes control in struggling school districts
By Marc Levy Associated Press 5/23/2012 3:33 AM
HARRISBURG - A Republican-penned bill that would pave the way for state takeovers of Pennsylvania school districts veering toward financial collapse has the support of Gov. Tom Corbett and began advancing in the Legislature Tuesday over the objections of Democrats.
The Senate Education Committee voted along partisan lines to send it to the full Senate in the hopes the bill will reach the governor's desk before the Legislature takes its traditional two-month summer break from Harrisburg.
The legislation is being spurred by fears of a wave of collapsing districts and is being fast-tracked so it can receive quicker consideration in the House if it passes in the Senate.

Posted: Thu, May. 24, 2012, 3:01 AM
Corbett to face GOP's 'tough love'
By Angela Couloumbis and Thomas Fitzgerald Inquirer Staff Writers
HARRISBURG - He is being picketed almost daily by demonstrators in Philadelphia and Pittsburgh - a tin man without a heart, they call him.  His Facebook page teems with complaints from angry Pennsylvanians. And his poll numbers have started to sag.
Enough, say top political advisers, supporters, and fund-raisers to Gov. Corbett.
Though they have anxiously watched for months as Corbett has fielded political hits on everything from policy to personality, they are now encouraging the governor to shake things up in hopes of shaking off what they think is turning into a growing image problem.

Music mogul and charter school founder Kenny Gamble: "I always look at the Democrats and the Republicans as sort of like the Crips and the Bloods," he said. "My interest is what is going to happen in education."
Posted: Thu, May. 24, 2012, 3:29 PM
Romney talks class size at W. Philly charter school
Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney brought his plan to improve the American educational system to a West Philadelphia charter school Thursday, and suggested class size mattered little to pupils' achievement.  Whereupon the teachers in the room immediately questioned his stance.

Published on May 21, 2012 by SaveUDArts
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Here are more than 700 articles since January 23rd detailing budget cuts, program cuts, staffing cuts and tax increases being discussed by local school districts
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