By Mary Steffey
"In his 2016-2017 budget address, Gov. Tom Wolf proposed a dream for our state. A promise of more basic education funding for next year, based on the non-existent budget of this year.
Wolf claims he wants to choose a path that funds our schools, eliminates our deficit, and puts Pennsylvania back on track. What everyone once again ignores, is that his plan is to only fund some of our schools.
Digging deeper into the numbers behind Tuesday's speech, roughly $488 million would be diverted away from charter school students.
The anti-charter stance taken by this administration has tried time and time again to reduce or eliminate funding for charter and cyber charter schools in the state.
While the promises add up, without a current budget in place and cash flowing to our students, the increases start to feel a bit like monopoly money."
I think the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania should shut down all Charter Schools
The High Price of For Profit Education and Jeb Bush
"Extreme Workloads for Teachers: As a teacher at Pennsylvania's K12-run Agora virtual academy points out in the article, teachers are often administering classes of 150 or more students with a high turnover of staff and students.
Michael McNulty teaches online high school math to 150 Agora students, and sometimes more because of "massive staff turnover," he said. "We were scrambling to hire enough teachers."
As enrollment surged, Agora drew more students who had been truants at regular schools, and they didn't show up online either, neglecting to log on or hand in homework, he said.
Student-teacher ratios in online schools are "generally higher than traditional classrooms where space constraints and classroom management are issues," K12 said. Agora students' improvement on test scores is "competitive with other Pennsylvania cyber charter schools," K12 said.
Agora monitors truancy, contacting families and school districts to get students back in class, the company said. It removes students from its rolls after 10 consecutive unexcused absences, it said.
K12 Inc.'s spokesperson is right that Agora charters perform as well as Pennsylvania virtual charter schools. Since their inception reporters, regulators and parents have complained about the poor performance of Pennsylvania's virtual schools. As Bloomberg makes clear, K12 is putting profit margins and investors over the future of their students--as their performance shows. There's a long history of K12 Inc. trying to squeeze as much money from taxpayers as possible to maximize its profit.
Made Possible By Jeb Bush: Jeb Bush's Foundation for Excellence in Education has been a long time booster of K12 Inc.'s expansion, education and business model. He worked to benefit cyber charters and K12 specifically when he was governor of Florida, and in the ensuing years his Foundation for Excellence in Education has been working with ALEC to make it easier for cyber charters, including K12 Inc., to expand nationally."
By Ruth Conniff
"But these are small-time operators compared with Ronald Packard, the CEO of K12, Inc., the scandal-plagued online charter school company. Packard's salary was $4.1 million in 2013.
K12 has been charged with attempting to falsify records, using unqualified teachers, and booking classes of more than 100 students by state investigators in Florida.
Education reporter Jennifer Berkshire, aka EduShyster, shared Morningstar data on her blog showing that between 2012 and 2013, executive compensation at K12 grew by $11,399,514. In 2012, executives at K12 earned a total of $9,971,984 in compensation. Last year that figure jumped to $21,371,498.
“According to a lawsuit filed in US district court this spring,”
Berkshire writes, “Packard knowingly inflated the value of K12 stock by making *overly positive statements* about the company, its performance and its prospects, then cashed out, causing his personal numbers to add up to the tune of $6.4 million large.” A spokesperson for K12 said Packard had done nothing wrong.
By Ruth Conniff