Craig Barrett Makes $190,000 As a K12 Inc. Board Member

Posted

By David Safier

on Mon, Jan 11, 2016 at 2:30 PM

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Over the years, I’ve written many posts about the shoddy corporate practices and poor student performance at schools run by K12 Inc., the for-profit, publicly traded online education corporation (Its Arizona charter school, Arizona Virtual Academy, has 4,600 students sitting behind their computers at home, if, that is, they actually take the time and effort to log in and do the work). I wrote my most recent post about the corporations’s sinking stock value a few weeks ago. And I’ve written a few times that Arizona’s Craig Barrett sits on K12 Inc.’s Board of Directors. But this is the first time I’ve written about his compensation. For the fiscal year 2015, Barrett received $190,000 from the corporation. Barrett is a very, very busy man with his fingers in a whole lot of pies. You can be certain he didn’t put in 40 hour weeks to earn his Board pay.

Why, you may ask, should we care about Barrett’s involvement in K12 Inc.? The answer is, Barrett is a powerful voice in Arizona education, advocating for what he says are necessary reforms to improve our schools. He’s not shy when it comes to talking about his connections and accomplishments. For instance, he’s happy to announce that he’s President and Chairman of BASIS Schools, Inc., the for-profit Education Management Organization that runs the chain of BASIS schools. But so far as I know, he never talks about his connection to the shoddy, failing K12 Inc. I’ve looked hard on the internet, read his op eds, listened to some of his interviews and speeches. When it comes to K12 Inc. — nothing but crickets. A man as proud of his accomplishments as Barrett should be more open about this aspect of his educational life, and more forthcoming about what he, as a board member, is doing to improve the corporate and educational culture at K12 Inc.

Craig Barrett’s list of connections and accomplishments is vast. He’s the retired CEO of Intel, and he’s worth hundreds of millions of dollars. As I mentioned earlier, he’s President and Chairman of BASIS Schools Inc. He’s also a board member of Achieve, Inc., which was instrumental in creating and promoting the Common Core standards, as well as an influential member of any number of education-related organizations. He travels around the world promoting STEM education (Science, Technology, Engineering, Mathematics), and he’s very outspoken about what he thinks is wrong with Arizona education and what should be done to fix it. His ideas fall squarely in the privatization/”education reform” camp. During Jan Brewer’s governorship, he chaired her Arizona Ready Education Council which worked to steer the state’s education priorities, most of which are being carried forward by Gov. Ducey’s Classrooms First Initiative Council. It’s fair to say he’s the most powerful unelected individual in Arizona education.

So if he sees himself a good-education advocate, especially an outspoken one who touts the successes of BASIS schools as a model for other schools, he should feel a duty to explain the way his $190,000 a year position on the K12 Inc. board is part of his commitment to improving education in Arizona and nationwide. Maybe there’s more value in the corporation’s online school model, which has been so regularly and roundly criticized, even from people within the “education reform” movement, than we know. Maybe he’s working inside the corporation to improve its operations and education delivery system. A man as well spoken as Barrett, a man who writes as well as Barrett, a man who can command a public forum as easily as Barrett, should really make an effort to explain this questionable aspect of his educational involvement.

BASIS BOARD MEMBER Bonus News:  How much does Craig Barrett make as President and Chairman of BASIS Schools Inc.? I don’t know, because it isn’t a matter of public record. BASIS Schools Inc. is a for-profit Education Management Organization, so, though nearly all of its income is taxpayer money which the state gives to its charter schools, once the money that flows from the state budget to charter schools is sent upstairs and hidden behind a for-profit pay wall, it disappears from view. We don’t know if Barrett and other board members are paid, and if so, how much. We have no idea how much money BASIS founders Michael and Olga Block make. We used to know back when BASIS was entirely nonprofit and the Blocks had to report their salaries on the nonprofit’s publicly available 990 tax forms, but no more.

But it’s interesting to see who sits on the board of BASIS Schools, Inc. Of course, there’s Craig Barrett, a man whose political and educational priorities lean conservative. And there’s co-founder Michael Block, who has worked as a consultant for ALEC (the American Legislative Exchange Council), an organization whose main mission is to create conservative legislation which can become state law across the country. Also sitting on the seven member board is Clint Bolick, whom Gov. Ducey just appointed to the Arizona Supreme Court. Bolick is currently the head of the Goldwater Institute’s constitutional litigation team. Another board member, Terry Sarvas, is a member of the Goldwater Institute, and yet another, Steve Twist, is a founder of the Goldwater Institute.

BASIS’s conservative credentials run wide and deep — which is fine, of course, perfectly acceptable, but well worth noting.

Tags: Craig Barrett, K12 Inc., BASIS Schools, Inc., Arizona Ready Education Council, Classrooms First Initiative Council, Michael Block, Clint Bolick, Terry Sarvas, Steve Twist, Image

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I am sure if you ask the BASIS bunch to work for nothing to support select student success, they would. After all the 1100 local PUBLIC school board members in 223 publically elected and transparent school districts in Arizona, DO work for zero dollars.

Posted by

Frances Perkins

on 01/12/2016 at 7:54 AM

It’s time for more transparency in the Charter for profit school industry. After all these are taxpayer dollars, how much is spent in the classroom vs. profit? Who knows ?
I worked as an engineering consultant for many years most often on public projects. We had to disclose, salary info, overhead rates, cost data, profit and so forth. Why? Because public money was involved.

Posted by

Michael S. Ellegood

on 01/12/2016 at 8:29 AM

Sound like Mr. Barrett has set himself up with a pretty substantial retirement at taxpayers expense. I do not need to give you a lesson in civics but in order to put a stop to this rape of state revenues is very simple. A small change in the leadership of the State Senate. Senator Marco Rubio is absolutely correct when he defends himself for missing sessions of the United States Senate. Notwithstanding the rules of the U. S. Senate it’s a numbers game, it is not the number of NOs that pass legislation, it is the number of Yes votes. While it is true he is collecting pay for being a Senator, if he is going to vote NO, so what if he isn’t there. It is the 51 YES votes that passes legislation. Why is this important? Here in Arizona it is 31 Yes votes in the State House and 16 Yes votes in the State Senate. Right now the State Senate is split 17 Republican State Senators and 13 Democrats. That means a change of only four state senators and the control of the State Senate shifts to the Democrats. The committee majorities would be Democrat and the flow of legislation would be in the hands of the New Democrat power structure. That means without the approval of the State Senate no budget, no new laws or changes to current laws could take place. Before anything goes to the Governor for a signature to become law BOTH houses of the legislature must be in agreement. Getting back to Mr. Barrett and publicly fund education systems, no money would flow, no formula of distribution could be decided until the 16 Democrats in control of the State Senate voted YES. See how powerful only a change of four State Senators would be. With one or the other bodies of the State Legislature in control of the Democratic members, things could and would get done, but the name of the game then would be compromise. Working together to draft bills that could pass both house and then be sent to the Governor to become law. The Governor could of course veto the legislative action, then more compromise would be necessary to craft legislation but it sure would beat the five or six legislative kingpins dictating budget and other public decisions from a broom closet of the State Capitol Building which by the way doesn’t even belong to the state anymore. One state senate change to start with would be in Legislative District 11, North Pima and Pinal Counties. State Senator Steve Smith with his radical ideology desperately needs to be replaced. A very qualified and highly experienced in public affairs candidate has stepped forward named Ralph Atchue. Mr. Atchue is currently Secretary/Treasurer of the Casa Grande Democrats
club. There is one recommendation only three to go. Wow, sounds simple doesn’t it, instead of tax cuts for the rich and powerful special interests, a new day, taxpayer funds invested in Arizona families and especially our kids. Educated and job trained citizens to bring economic prosperity to a flourishing and thriving Arizona.

Posted by

hakeson

on 01/12/2016 at 8:38 AM

$190K. Nothing close to the annual comp K12’s CEO tried to shovel pass the shareholders…

Posted by

Susan A Smith

on 01/12/2016 at 9:19 AM

This is the first time I have ever seen a salary of a charter school administrator published. Since charter schools are taxpayer funded, it would be good to see all administrative salaries published every year with the same formal transparency as public schools. Back to 1994 would be even better, whether the school failed, or whether the administrator retired with a golden parachute of his/her own design. When you read and watch mainstream news reporting administrative overhead not only as a percentage but also in dollar amounts, why have “reporters” refused to report charter salaries for so many years?

Posted by

Thinking_Aloud

on 01/14/2016 at 8:27 AM

David Safier wrote a short article about the “real” Craig Barrett in 2013 including this
“… by Barrett, who stays under the radar except when he helped campaign against Prop 204, the one cent sales tax for education. But his real power isn’t in swaying public opinion. It comes from whispering in Governor Brewer’s ear and steering the legislature toward adopting his educational ideas ie:
Don’t add a penny to K-12 school funding. Freeze it right where it is, even though we’re spending about 20 percent less than five years ago and we’re near the bottom of the nation in per-student funding.
Send more money to charter schools. That, of course, would mean less for district schools. And districts can forget about trying to pass bonds or budget overrides. Those funding options would be wiped out. But charters would still be able to float bonds to build new schools. So if Arizona’s student population goes up, districts would have no way to handle the overflow, and charters would be more than happy to step in and fill the void.
Set teacher salaries based on student performance, not experience or education. Those lucky teachers in high-performing, high-rent districts could expect their salaries to climb at the expense of teachers in low-income areas. And schools, like teachers, would get performance bonuses, meaning those same high-rent districts would find themselves with extra cash while districts with low-income students who need the most resources would see their allotments shrink. And if any district slips into failing territory, the state would take it over. No extra money would go along with the takeover, just loss of local control.”
Now we are dealing with Prop123, that will lead to the death of public instruction in our state.

Posted by

on 01/14/2016 at 1:12 PM

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Take this article with a grain of salt.  It’s from K12 themselves.  Better put on your hip waders…

The three- volume Online Charter School Study (October 2015) prepared by Mathematica, the Center for Reinventing Public Education (CRPE) and the Center for Research on Education Outcomes (CREDO) provides the country’s most in-depth and systemic look into full-time public virtual charter schools. The report is a starting point with respect to the need for more and better analysis of student performance in virtual charter schools. For instance, the study demonstrates a high mobility rate and the unique nature of students within this sector of public schools, however the student matching process did not take into account the length of enrollment, reason for enrollment, effect of mobility, or persistence over time. With additional relevant data, the study can inform the next round of research.

The study also makes conclusions that affirm what leaders in virtual schools have known for more than a decade. It confirms that virtual charter school students are eligible for free/reduced price lunch at a higher rate than traditional students (48 percent compared to 39 percent). The study also demonstrates that students in virtual charters had lower than average test scores prior to enrolling in the virtual school. In fact, one-third fewer virtual charter students are in the top-scoring decile than traditional students and there are 40 percent more virtual charter students in the bottom decile.

Decades of research show the effects of income on student performance, and there is an emerging body of research showing prior state assessment performance is a strong predictor of future performance. While these conclusions are sobering for those of us who got into education to positively impact student performance, they demonstrate that students are disproportionately academically at-risk prior to enrolling in virtual charter schools.  In fact, academic struggles are one of the main reasons why parents choose to transfer their children to these schools.

The policy volume of the study, written by CRPE, offers several recommendations that are somewhat disconnected from the other volumes of the report. For instance, the CREDO volume on student performance concludes that “network” virtual charter schools managed mostly by private “for-profit” providers do not perform worse, on average, than non-network schools, yet the recommendation is to further regulate these providers, absent evidence related to student outcomes.

Perhaps the biggest disconnect between the volumes of the study is on student engagement. The Mathematica volume discusses in great detail the importance and challenges of student engagement in the virtual charter school model. This is not news to teachers or leaders within these schools who have been developing instructional strategies, technological tools, and support structures to improve student engagement. We had hoped the volume would include constructive policy recommendations in this area. Instead, it proposes a more crude approach:  screening enrollments to ensure students are the right “fit” before allowing them access to public virtual charter schools.

A fundamental principle for public schools — especially for public schools of choice — is equal access and opportunity for all students. Virtual charter schools are public schools. They offer families access to a full public education option regardless of their geographic location. They bring the school to the student wherever she lives, meaning that for millions of families across the country, virtual schools represent the only public school option available. Take that away – or restrict equal access through some type of selection process – and virtual schools no longer become public schools. Further, it is hard to fathom what type of admissions criteria could both safeguard equal access and parent choice, while also “filtering out” students who are somehow pre-determined not to succeed. This would inevitably lead to the most difficult-to-educate students never having the chance to try virtual schools, even though they may have the potential to succeed. And they can succeed.  We’ve seen thousands of students deemed “at-risk” thrive and graduate from virtual charter schools.

The focus must be on student engagement. Rather than denying equal access and opportunity to students on the front end, policies should be designed to enable online and blended schools to move students out who are unable or unwilling to engage in their individualized learning program.  Currently, public virtual schools are forced to use traditional, often arcane, attendance and truancy regulations to remove students, which rely on traditional “seat time” attendance measures instead of engagement. 

While CRPE calls attention to a provision in the Arizona law that relates to student performance while enrolled in the virtual school, there is no recommendation to leverage this type of policy to include engagement. States should consider expanding the Arizona policy to include student engagement. A follow-up study examining the impact of engagement on performance for all types of students in virtual schools would be informative. While virtual charter schools are not the right fit for all, experience has shown us that any student, regardless of her circumstances, who engages in the online learning model can succeed.

Another disconnect is the recommendation to move public virtual schools out of the charter school sector entirely. Advocates have touted the increased transparency within charter schools since 1995.  These public schools are required to comply with all state reporting requirements while serving students entirely based on choice. Charter schools do not serve students zoned in by zip code. Charters must be open to all students, and parents have the freedom to make choices based on school-level information. There is no greater form of transparency in public education than within the charter sector.

On the other hand, there is a lack of transparency and information available on the performance of state-run and district-run virtual schools. In fact, several reports, including Keeping Pace with K-12 Digital Learning, have pointed out that it is difficult to get visibility into the true number of students enrolled in these school programs or their academic performance due to lax reporting requirements. Would anyone expect greater transparency for full-time public virtual schools by placing them within these structures?

A final point from the policy section at odds with the historical record is the description that education service providers have supported poor regulations, while simultaneously pointing out strong laws that were the recommendations made by these same providers.  The states CRPE cites as having good laws — Arizona, Colorado, Florida, North Carolina and Oklahoma — have benefitted from the input provided by education service providers such as K12 Inc. In fact, traditional critics of charters and school choice have criticized the role that educators and practitioners from digital education service providers played in advocating for these policies.  Across many states, K12 has worked with policymakers to inform the process to ensure responsible, effective, and transparent policies are enacted. In every state cited by CRPE as a model, K12 has supported the specific policy provisions that are deemed worthy of replication. 

K12 continues to advocate for improved policies in digital learning. For example, K12 has proposed better and more reliable student-centered accountability frameworks for schools that experience higher rates of mobility through school choice.  Here are a few:

Reform Graduation Rates – Rather than 4-year cohort, create a value added approach to graduation rate by measuring student progress toward graduation requirements for the actual time the student is enrolled in a public school.

Full Academic year – The longer a student is enrolled in a school, the more the school should be held accountable for his or her performance. State accountability frameworks should therefore be weighted to measure student proficiency and growth based on number of full academic years students are enrolled in a school.

–      Less than 1 full year = 0

–      Two full years  = 1.0

–      Three full years = 2.0

–      Four or more full years = 3.0

Student Growth – Annual individual student academic growth measurements should carry more weight within a state’s accountability framework than static proficiency scores. Growth models should also be sufficiently sensitive to growth on the high and low ends of the spectrum.

Measure Student Engagement – No student should be denied equal access and opportunity to public schools of choice.  However, states can develop a definition of engagement for students enrolled in alternative public schools of choice (including online and blended schools).  Students who do not demonstrate sufficient and ongoing engagement may be dis-enrolled.

On funding, K12 has long advocated for models that fund schools based on students enrolled on a real-time or current-year basis. Schools should not receive funding for students they are no longer educating.  Funding models based on single student count dates, predominately advocated by traditional school systems, are incompatible in states where school choice is valued and multiple education options exist.  Funding should follow the child to their school of choice at any point during the year.

It is our hope the Online Charter School Study is the first of many analyses of public virtual charter schools. This report points out the need for additional studies based on the unique nature of these schools’ students and the quickly evolving online learning instructional model. K12 will continue to be transparent, share data, and seek opportunities to collaborate on research and policy.  Our goal is to constantly improve, raise outcomes, and help every student succeed.

Mary Gifford is Senior Vice President of Education Policy and External Affairs at K12 Inc.  Jeff Kwitowski is Senior Vice President of Public Affairs and Policy Communications. 

K-12 Dealmaking: Ariz. State Launches Ed Tech Partnership; K12 Inc. Acquires LTS Education Systems

In recent dealmaking news, K12 Inc. purchased a publisher of digital game-based learning technology while Arizona State University partnered with investors to get new ed tech to the market faster.

K12 Inc. Buys LTS Education Systems: The online education provider recently acquired ed-tech company LTS Education Systems for $20 million, according to a transcript of the company’s third quarter earnings call last week.

CEO Stuart Udell said K12 has been looking to make multiple strategic acquisitions and partnerships that expand the company’s distribution, enhance its product set and improves K12’s technology platform, and that LTS fits these requirements, according to the call transcript from Seeking Alpha.

Udell called LTS a “proven educational technology company that provides flexible learning solutions at 1,500 school and afterschool sites” with a core product, Stride Academy, an SaaS offering that “blends instruction, assessments and games into a mobile field practice and test readiness solution.”

“It is adaptive, it’s gamified, it’s engaging and it’s mobile, all of which we know works and it’s where we’re heading as an organization,” Udell said about the product.

LTS’s customer base has very minimal state or client overlap with K12’s current FuelEd customer base, Udell noted. “Therefore, we will be able to take advantage of cross-sell opportunities with FuelEd solution set,” he said, referring to Fuel Education, a personalized learning solutions provider which operates as a separate legal entity owned by K12. Click here to read more about the 2014 rebranding.

Udel added that “while LTS is an already profitable company with $8 million in revenues at the onset, we believe the growth prospects for Stride Academy and the cross-sell potential for FuelEd’s product set will make this acquisition a strong growth driver for K12 in the future.”

Fuel Education and LTS last week announced an exclusive partnership that will aim to enable FuelEd to deliver schools and districts supplemental options for skills practice, assessment, and test readiness across all core subjects, according to a press statement.

ASU Launches Ed Tech Partnership: Arizona State University has launched an initiative with venture capital firm Draper Associates and GSV, a consortium of education-technology investors, to help get education technology to the market faster, according to a statement from the university.

The initiative — the ASU Draper GSV Accelerator — will source, fund, pilot and credential new products created by higher-education technology companies and allowing new ventures to be tested by students and faculty.

Applications to join the program will be available on EdTechAccel.com on May 1.

Other higher education institutions have become involved in trying to shape the ed tech market, and ease the path for companies that have difficulty finding educators willing to test their products.

The Curry School of Education at the University of Virginia, for instance, is advising the Jefferson Education Accelerator, a commercial project that gives ed-tech companies that ability to have their products tested in K-12 systems and colleges.

Pearson to Sell GlobalEnglish Corp.: Education and publishing company Pearson is planning to sell GlobalEnglish Corp., a cloud-based software to teach English to business users, according to Sky News. Pearson purchased the company in 2012 for $90 million in cash.

Spin Master Acquires Toca Boca and Sago Mini: Canadian children’s entertainment company Spin Master Corp. has agreed to acquire digital toy company Toca Boca and Sago Mini, a creator of mobile apps for children ages 2-5 from the Bonnier Group of Sweden. Terms of the deal were not disclosed.

Be sure to check back on Marketplace K-12 for updates on mergers, acquisitions, fundraising, and other dealmaking. Also see EdWeek Market Brief, a service that gives companies operating in the market insights on the needs and priorities of school officials.

Craig Barrett Makes $190,000 As a K12 Inc. Board Member

Posted

By David Safier

on at 2:30 PM

click to enlarge

craig-barrett_1.jpg

Over the years, I’ve written many posts about the shoddy corporate practices and poor student performance at schools run by K12 Inc., the for-profit, publicly traded online education corporation (Its Arizona charter school, Arizona Virtual Academy, has 4,600 students sitting behind their computers at home, if, that is, they actually take the time and effort to log in and do the work). I wrote my most recent post about the corporations’s sinking stock value a few weeks ago. And I’ve written a few times that Arizona’s Craig Barrett sits on K12 Inc.’s Board of Directors. But this is the first time I’ve written about his compensation. For the fiscal year 2015, Barrett received $190,000 from the corporation. Barrett is a very, very busy man with his fingers in a whole lot of pies. You can be certain he didn’t put in 40 hour weeks to earn his Board pay.

Why, you may ask, should we care about Barrett’s involvement in K12 Inc.? The answer is, Barrett is a powerful voice in Arizona education, advocating for what he says are necessary reforms to improve our schools. He’s not shy when it comes to talking about his connections and accomplishments. For instance, he’s happy to announce that he’s President and Chairman of BASIS Schools, Inc., the for-profit Education Management Organization that runs the chain of BASIS schools. But so far as I know, he never talks about his connection to the shoddy, failing K12 Inc. I’ve looked hard on the internet, read his op eds, listened to some of his interviews and speeches. When it comes to K12 Inc. — nothing but crickets. A man as proud of his accomplishments as Barrett should be more open about this aspect of his educational life, and more forthcoming about what he, as a board member, is doing to improve the corporate and educational culture at K12 Inc.

Craig Barrett’s list of connections and accomplishments is vast. He’s the retired CEO of Intel, and he’s worth hundreds of millions of dollars. As I mentioned earlier, he’s President and Chairman of BASIS Schools Inc. He’s also a board member of Achieve, Inc., which was instrumental in creating and promoting the Common Core standards, as well as an influential member of any number of education-related organizations. He travels around the world promoting STEM education (Science, Technology, Engineering, Mathematics), and he’s very outspoken about what he thinks is wrong with Arizona education and what should be done to fix it. His ideas fall squarely in the privatization/”education reform” camp. During Jan Brewer’s governorship, he chaired her Arizona Ready Education Council which worked to steer the state’s education priorities, most of which are being carried forward by Gov. Ducey’s Classrooms First Initiative Council. It’s fair to say he’s the most powerful unelected individual in Arizona education.

So if he sees himself a good-education advocate, especially an outspoken one who touts the successes of BASIS schools as a model for other schools, he should feel a duty to explain the way his $190,000 a year position on the K12 Inc. board is part of his commitment to improving education in Arizona and nationwide. Maybe there’s more value in the corporation’s online school model, which has been so regularly and roundly criticized, even from people within the “education reform” movement, than we know. Maybe he’s working inside the corporation to improve its operations and education delivery system. A man as well spoken as Barrett, a man who writes as well as Barrett, a man who can command a public forum as easily as Barrett, should really make an effort to explain this questionable aspect of his educational involvement.

BASIS BOARD MEMBER Bonus News:  How much does Craig Barrett make as President and Chairman of BASIS Schools Inc.? I don’t know, because it isn’t a matter of public record. BASIS Schools Inc. is a for-profit Education Management Organization, so, though nearly all of its income is taxpayer money which the state gives to its charter schools, once the money that flows from the state budget to charter schools is sent upstairs and hidden behind a for-profit pay wall, it disappears from view. We don’t know if Barrett and other board members are paid, and if so, how much. We have no idea how much money BASIS founders Michael and Olga Block make. We used to know back when BASIS was entirely nonprofit and the Blocks had to report their salaries on the nonprofit’s publicly available 990 tax forms, but no more.

But it’s interesting to see who sits on the board of BASIS Schools, Inc. Of course, there’s Craig Barrett, a man whose political and educational priorities lean conservative. And there’s co-founder Michael Block, who has worked as a consultant for ALEC (the American Legislative Exchange Council), an organization whose main mission is to create conservative legislation which can become state law across the country. Also sitting on the seven member board is Clint Bolick, whom Gov. Ducey just appointed to the Arizona Supreme Court. Bolick is currently the head of the Goldwater Institute’s constitutional litigation team. Another board member, Terry Sarvas, is a member of the Goldwater Institute, and yet another, Steve Twist, is a founder of the Goldwater Institute.

BASIS’s conservative credentials run wide and deep — which is fine, of course, perfectly acceptable, but well worth noting.

Gene V. Glass, distinguished researcher of education at Arizona State University, surveys the amazing spread of school choice in Arizona and asks what are the results of the spread of choice. You have heard the stories about how vouchers and charters will “save poor kids from failing schools,” will create competition to improve public schools, will work wonders for everyone. It turns out that Arizona is the choice capital of the world but is still waiting for that miraculous success that its advocates promised and still promise.


 


Professor Glass shows how dramatically choice has spread across Arizona, with the urging of choice advocates in the government and the private sector.


 


Glass writes:


 


Now Arizona is the school choice capital of the world: 1) 500 charter schools – soon to be closer to 600 if New Schools for Phoenix has its way, and they will; 2) huge virtual academies run by out-of-state companies like K12 Inc.; 3) open enrollment laws; 4) tuition tax credits subsidizing families sending their kids to religious schools; and 5) a history of active homeschooling. In fact, the number of students whose parents have “chosen” is staggering. There are 1,100,000 students of K-12 school age in Arizona. Of that number, 180,000 attend charter schools, 200,000 have exercised their right to switch school districts under open enrollment laws, and about 80,000 attend private (mostly religious)schools or are homeschooled. That amounts to more than 400,000 “choice students” in Arizona out of a population of a little more than one million for a choice ratio of about 40% plus.


 


With nearly half of all students enjoying the benefit of choice – with its effects on driving incompetent teachers out of work, shutting down bad schools, stimulating private and public schools to reach higher levels of effort and innovation – the condition of K-12 education in Arizona must be nothing short of fantastic!


 


But, to hear the state’s politicians and business leaders speak of it, Arizona’s school systems are terrible. Below average; lagging behind other nations; a threat to the economy of the entire state; not preparing students for college or careers; in need of major reforms; bring on the Common Core. Arizona’s education system is the paragon of choice, and yet it is a mess. Somebody needs to get their stories straight.
















via Diane Ravitch’s blog http://ift.tt/1HeBT8y

Gene V. Glass, distinguished professor emeritus at Arizona State University, made a stunning discovery: the President of the State Board of Education is CEO of a charter school, which pays him and his family handsomely. The state of Arizona does not care about conflicts of interest, especially where charter schools are involved.


 


He writes:


 


A few years back, Arizonans saw the Chairperson of the State Charter School Board award a charter to a non-profit foundation (which was really K12 Inc., the online school provider), then be hired by the foundation to head the Arizona Virtual Academy, and then be hired by K12 Inc. as a vice-president for something-or-other. She continues to occupy the latter two posts.


 

Arizona simply doesn’t recognize things called conflicts of interest. I could list dozens concerning public education. A staff member the Board of Regents once told me that in Arizona if you declare your connections, then you can no longer be accused of having a conflict of interest. Perhaps this qualifies as some minimal level of ethical behavior.


 


A new flagrant conflict of interest has just become apparent to me. A man named Greg Miller is president of the Arizona State Board of Education. There is also a man named Greg Miller who is CEO of Challenge Charter School in Glendale, AZ, a suburb of Phoenix. Matching up photos of the Board president and the charter CEO leaves no doubt that these two individuals are one in the same Greg Miller. Mr. Miller, a civil engineer for 25 years, founded Challenge Charter School in the late 1990s and for a while served as principal. His current title is CEO. Mrs. Pam Miller, his wife, once served on a school board; the Challenge Charter Schools website lists no current duties for Mrs. Miller. But daughter Wendy Miller was appointed Principal of Challenge Charter School the same year in which she earned her MBA.


 


Glass posts the IRS form 990 for the charter school. Remember, the head of the Miller family is the president of the Arizona State Board of Education.


 


Greg Miller, the CEO of a school “system” with about 650 students, is being compensated to the tune of $145,000 annually. His wife receives the same salary, though her duties are never enumerated at the website and her position is only described as “Executive Director/Vice-PR,” whatever Vice-PR is. The Miller’s daughter Wendy, who has degrees in Public Administration and Business, receives a salary of more than $120,000 for acting as Principal/Secretary. Basically, the Miller family, while working assiduously 60 hours a week each as reported on their IRS form, is taking about $425,000 a year out of the coffers for salary.


 


Glass observes:


 


 


Crony capitalism, conflicts of interest, charter schools lining the pockets of amateur entrepreneurs, “quasi-private” schools being operated at public expense, an increasingly segregated state school system … it’s just education reform Arizona style.


 


 


[P.S. Please do not confuse this family with one of my favorite movies, “We Are the Millers,” which is hilarious, involves criminal activity, and does not involve conflicts of interest.]


 


 


 


 


 
















via Diane Ravitch’s blog http://ift.tt/1w5wbBq

Do Charter School Students Have First Amendment Rights? – Of, By, For: In Search of the Civic Mission of K-12 Schools – Education Week

Do Charter School Students Have First Amendment Rights?

By Sam Chaltain on September 5, 2013 12:59 PM | 2 Comments

Seven-year-old Tiana Parker is attending a new school in Tulsa this week – and the rest of us would be wise to understand why.

Tiana's father pulled her out of Deborah Brown Community Charter School earlier this week when school officials barred his dreadlocked daughter from entry because of a policy that forbids “faddish hair styles.”

Can a public school do that? And does it matter that they're a public charter school?

Historically, when it comes to issues of student expression in public schools, courts have employed a variety of tests to determine whether restrictions on student dress violate First Amendment rights. Some courts apply a two-part test taken from the Supreme Court's flag-burning cases. Under this test, a court will ask two questions: Did the student intend to convey a particularized message? And is that particularized message one that a reasonable observer would understand?

As an example, a federal court in New Mexico applied this legal test to determine that a student did not have a First Amendment right to wear sagging pants. The student argued that his wearing of the sagging pants conveyed the particular message of African American heritage in the hip-hop fashion and lifestyle. But in Bivens v. Albuquerque Public Schools, the court rejected the student's First Amendment claim, finding that a reasonable observer would not find a particularized message in his conduct. “Sagging is not necessarily associated with a single racial or cultural group, and sagging is seen by some merely as a fashion trend followed by many adolescents all over the United States,” the judge wrote.

Other courts will apply the standard from the famous 1969 case, Tinker v. Des Moines Independent School District, which states school officials cannot regulate student expression unless they can reasonably forecast that the expression will cause a material interference or substantial disruption of the school environment. Or a court could apply the more deferential standard from the 1986 decision in Bethel v. Fraser, in which the U.S. Supreme Court deemed that school officials had greater leeway to regulate student speech that was indecent and lewd. And finally, some courts will analyze student dress challenges under the so-called O'Brien standard. Under the O'Brien test, which is based on a case from 1968, a dress code or uniform policy will be constitutional if the policy is authorized under state law; furthers an important governmental interest; is unrelated to the suppression of free expression; and requires incidental restrictions on First Amendment freedoms that go no further than necessary to further the governmental interest.

So does Tiana Parker's family have a basis for saying that her First Amendment rights were violated?

As it turns out, if she were enrolled in a traditional public school the answer would still be no better than “Maybe,” and, because her reasons for wearing dreadlocks were not motivated by political or religious interests, a more likely answer is “Probably Not.”

But Tiana wasn't enrolled in a traditional public school. She was enrolled in a public charter school. And although the case law for free-expression claims is still emerging when it comes to charter schools – which receive public money but are, in effect, private organizations – the early returns would suggest that the answer there is a more definitive “No.”

Consider the story of Michael Caviness[1], a teacher at a public charter school in Arizona who was fired, and who then sued his former employer for depriving him of his constitutional rights. According to Caviness, the Horizon Community Learning Center was a state actor for all purposes because of its statutory characterization as a “public school,” and because it performed a public function in providing public education.

But the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals disagreed. “This case presents the special situation of a private non-profit corporation running a charter school that is defined as a public school by state law,” the court explained, before ruling that “a state's statutory characterization of a private entity as a public actor for some purposes is not necessarily dispositive with respect to all of that entity's conduct. Rather, a private entity may be designated a state actor for some purposes but still function as a private actor in other respects. Merely because Horizon is a private entity performing a function which serves the public does not make its acts state action.” The court's ruling added that “except as otherwise specified in Arizona statutes regulating charter schools, or in the school's own charter, a charter school is exempt from all statutes and rules relating to schools, governing boards and school districts.”

Say what? You mean public charter schools are, for purposes of the law, still private entities in many regards? Like, say, student (or teacher) free-speech rights?

Alarmingly, early rulings suggest that the answer is yes. Indeed, in the Caviness opinion the Ninth Circuit cited a 1996 case of its own, George v. Pacific-CSC Work Furlough, in which it reviewed the complaint of a custodial staff employee of a private entity which operated a correctional facility for the state of California. “After the custodial employee was terminated,” Judge Sandra Ikuta explained, “he sued the private company, alleging that his First Amendment rights were violated because he was terminated for speaking out about safety and security problems.”

Ikuta and her colleagues rejected the employee's theory that Pacific was a state actor because it was performing and fulfilling a traditional state and government function. “The relevant inquiry,” they ruled, “is whether [Pacific's] role as an employer was state action” in the employee's case, and noted that “[a]n entity may be a state actor for some purposes but not for others.” We concluded that while “Pacific ha[d] been granted certain powers and privileges under the law to allow it to function adequately as a prison,” the plaintiff failed to show state action because the “complaint offer[ed] no indication Pacific ha[d] become the government for employment purposes.”

Ikuta went on to add that the U.S. Supreme Court, “as well as case law in this and our sister circuits, permits the state to subsidize the operating and capital costs of a private entity without converting its acts into those of the state. Ultimately, Horizon's actions and personnel decisions were made by concededly private parties, and turned on judgments made by private parties without standards established by the State.”

In other words, public charter schools are not, under the law at least, full-blown public schools. That means that even if she had wanted to try, Tania Parker would have had no First Amendment standing. And it means that the two million students in the country currently enrolled in public charter schools – approximately 4% of the total student population, and growing – may have no free expression rights whatsoever.

Follow Sam on Twitter[2].

Do Charter School Students Have First Amendment Rights? – Of, By, For: In Search of the Civic Mission of K-12 Schools – Education Week

Do Charter School Students Have First Amendment Rights?

By Sam Chaltain on September 5, 2013 12:59 PM | 2 Comments

Seven-year-old Tiana Parker is attending a new school in Tulsa this week – and the rest of us would be wise to understand why.

Tiana's father pulled her out of Deborah Brown Community Charter School earlier this week when school officials barred his dreadlocked daughter from entry because of a policy that forbids “faddish hair styles.”

Can a public school do that? And does it matter that they're a public charter school?

Historically, when it comes to issues of student expression in public schools, courts have employed a variety of tests to determine whether restrictions on student dress violate First Amendment rights. Some courts apply a two-part test taken from the Supreme Court's flag-burning cases. Under this test, a court will ask two questions: Did the student intend to convey a particularized message? And is that particularized message one that a reasonable observer would understand?

As an example, a federal court in New Mexico applied this legal test to determine that a student did not have a First Amendment right to wear sagging pants. The student argued that his wearing of the sagging pants conveyed the particular message of African American heritage in the hip-hop fashion and lifestyle. But in Bivens v. Albuquerque Public Schools, the court rejected the student's First Amendment claim, finding that a reasonable observer would not find a particularized message in his conduct. “Sagging is not necessarily associated with a single racial or cultural group, and sagging is seen by some merely as a fashion trend followed by many adolescents all over the United States,” the judge wrote.

Other courts will apply the standard from the famous 1969 case, Tinker v. Des Moines Independent School District, which states school officials cannot regulate student expression unless they can reasonably forecast that the expression will cause a material interference or substantial disruption of the school environment. Or a court could apply the more deferential standard from the 1986 decision in Bethel v. Fraser, in which the U.S. Supreme Court deemed that school officials had greater leeway to regulate student speech that was indecent and lewd. And finally, some courts will analyze student dress challenges under the so-called O'Brien standard. Under the O'Brien test, which is based on a case from 1968, a dress code or uniform policy will be constitutional if the policy is authorized under state law; furthers an important governmental interest; is unrelated to the suppression of free expression; and requires incidental restrictions on First Amendment freedoms that go no further than necessary to further the governmental interest.

So does Tiana Parker's family have a basis for saying that her First Amendment rights were violated?

As it turns out, if she were enrolled in a traditional public school the answer would still be no better than “Maybe,” and, because her reasons for wearing dreadlocks were not motivated by political or religious interests, a more likely answer is “Probably Not.”

But Tiana wasn't enrolled in a traditional public school. She was enrolled in a public charter school. And although the case law for free-expression claims is still emerging when it comes to charter schools – which receive public money but are, in effect, private organizations – the early returns would suggest that the answer there is a more definitive “No.”

Consider the story of Michael Caviness[1], a teacher at a public charter school in Arizona who was fired, and who then sued his former employer for depriving him of his constitutional rights. According to Caviness, the Horizon Community Learning Center was a state actor for all purposes because of its statutory characterization as a “public school,” and because it performed a public function in providing public education.

But the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals disagreed. “This case presents the special situation of a private non-profit corporation running a charter school that is defined as a public school by state law,” the court explained, before ruling that “a state's statutory characterization of a private entity as a public actor for some purposes is not necessarily dispositive with respect to all of that entity's conduct. Rather, a private entity may be designated a state actor for some purposes but still function as a private actor in other respects. Merely because Horizon is a private entity performing a function which serves the public does not make its acts state action.” The court's ruling added that “except as otherwise specified in Arizona statutes regulating charter schools, or in the school's own charter, a charter school is exempt from all statutes and rules relating to schools, governing boards and school districts.”

Say what? You mean public charter schools are, for purposes of the law, still private entities in many regards? Like, say, student (or teacher) free-speech rights?

Alarmingly, early rulings suggest that the answer is yes. Indeed, in the Caviness opinion the Ninth Circuit cited a 1996 case of its own, George v. Pacific-CSC Work Furlough, in which it reviewed the complaint of a custodial staff employee of a private entity which operated a correctional facility for the state of California. “After the custodial employee was terminated,” Judge Sandra Ikuta explained, “he sued the private company, alleging that his First Amendment rights were violated because he was terminated for speaking out about safety and security problems.”

Ikuta and her colleagues rejected the employee's theory that Pacific was a state actor because it was performing and fulfilling a traditional state and government function. “The relevant inquiry,” they ruled, “is whether [Pacific's] role as an employer was state action” in the employee's case, and noted that “[a]n entity may be a state actor for some purposes but not for others.” We concluded that while “Pacific ha[d] been granted certain powers and privileges under the law to allow it to function adequately as a prison,” the plaintiff failed to show state action because the “complaint offer[ed] no indication Pacific ha[d] become the government for employment purposes.”

Ikuta went on to add that the U.S. Supreme Court, “as well as case law in this and our sister circuits, permits the state to subsidize the operating and capital costs of a private entity without converting its acts into those of the state. Ultimately, Horizon's actions and personnel decisions were made by concededly private parties, and turned on judgments made by private parties without standards established by the State.”

In other words, public charter schools are not, under the law at least, full-blown public schools. That means that even if she had wanted to try, Tania Parker would have had no First Amendment standing. And it means that the two million students in the country currently enrolled in public charter schools – approximately 4% of the total student population, and growing – may have no free expression rights whatsoever.

Follow Sam on Twitter[2].

Here’s A Money Idea For Charter Schools | The Range: The Tucson Weekly’s Daily Dispatch | Tucson Weekly

Monday, February 3, 2014

Education Here’s A Money Idea For Charter Schools

Posted by David Safier on Mon, Feb 3, 2014 at 4:00 PM

It’s been said before in greater depth, complete with facts and figures, but the Weekly's Tom Danehy cuts right to the chase, as usual, in this week’s column.


Records show that charter schools spend public money like drunken sailors with almost no official oversight, with protection from having to make full financial disclosure almost gleefully provided by the Legislature, and virtually no public outcry from those who claim to give a crap about where taxpayer money is going. It's hypocrisy, plain and simple.

Charter schools say they’re not getting as much money as district schools, and they’ve gone to court to get what they think is their fair share. It would make it a whole lot easier to figure out if charters are getting what they should if we knew the specifics of where and how they spend their money the taxpayers’ money.

I’ve done my damndest to sort out the funding equity issue for charters and district schools. I’m pretty good with numbers. I’ve listened to the arguments. I’ve looked at the spread sheets. But I haven’t found anyone who has sorted this thing out to my satisfaction. The problem is, there are too many slippery variables: providing transportation for students or not; providing food services or not; providing adequate special ed and ELL programs or not. Then there’s the different types of bonding charters and districts have available to them. This isn’t just a problem of trying to compare apples and oranges. We’re trying to compare a couple of banquet-sized financial smorgasbords here.

For this old classroom teacher, the money issue boils to one question. How much is being spent to educate that average kid in the average classroom? That’s got be the starting point for any discussion of funding equity. If the money allocated to charters for educating that middle-of-the-pack kid is significantly more or less than what district schools get, we should look at making some adjustments. But if the amount is close to the same, then we can leave that discussion aside and shift to other questions about special needs education, outside-of-class services and the like, while districts and charters get together and lobby the legislature to bring our education funding out of the cellar for all public schools, district and charter.

Someone with enough determination and endurance can find reasonably specific figures about how school districts spend their money. That’s the way it should be. It’s our money, so we should have some idea of how it’s being spent. But charters? All you’ll find in their financial reports are large dollar amounts divided into vague, unhelpful categories. Like Danehy said, we don’t know where taxpayer money is going when it’s handed to charter schools, so there’s no good way to figure out how much money goes directly to the student in the classroom.

As hard as it is to ferret out financial data on independent nonprofit charters, it’s flat out impossible when the schools are run by for-profit Charter Management Organizations. An impenetrable, free-enterprise firewall hides how taxpayer money is being spent. Prime examples: BASIS charters are run by the for-profit BASIS.ed; More than a dozen Imagine Schools in Arizona are run by Imagine Schools Inc. based in Virginia; Arizona Virtual Academy is run by the publicly traded K12 Inc. (currently trading at $21.84 on the NY Stock Exchange, down from $37.85 in September). These for-profit companies suck up 70% or more of their schools’ funding, then spend it with no transparency or accountability.

Arizona charter school laws were created to give the schools as much latitude and as little oversight as possible. It was all about letting the invisible hand of the marketplace sort things out. That free market ideology has led to uncompetitive no bid contracts, not to mention incestuous financial and employment relationships that would make a cutthroat capitalist blush. If public charter schools want to argue they’re not getting as much money as they deserve, they should let We The People know how they’re spending our money. Then let’s talk.

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Tags: Charter Schools, Charter Management Organizations, BASIS Schools, Imagine Schools, Arizona Virtual Academy, K12 Inc.

Morgan Smith of the Texas Tribune (published in thr New York Times) wrote about the secrecy that surrounds the finances of private corporations that manage schools and claim to be “public.”


They are “public” when it is time to get the money but their finances are private when asked to account for taxpayer money.


Basis, an Arizona charter chain, submitted an application to open a charter in San Antonio and this is what happened:


“On a recently approved Texas charter school application, blacked-out paragraphs appear on almost 100 of its 393 pages.


“Redactions on the publicly available online version of the application often extend for pages at a time. They include sections on the school’s plan to support students’ academic success, its extracurricular activities and the “extent to which any private entity, including any management company” will be involved in the school’s operation. The “shaded material,” according to footnotes, is confidential proprietary or financial information.”


Smith writes:


“In Texas, commercial entities cannot run public schools. But when a school’s management — including accounting, marketing and hiring decisions — is contracted out to a private company, the distinction can become artificial. Such an arrangement raises questions about how to ensure financial accountability when the boundary between public and private is blurred, and the rules of public disclosure governing expenditures of taxpayer money do not apply.”


Some of the most secretive companies run virtual schools, paid for with public money:


“When The Texas Tribune made an open-records request for employee salary records and marketing expenses at the state’s full-time virtual schools, it received responses from all but one of those connected with for-profit entities indicating either that the records were not available or were not subject to public information laws.


“The Huntsville Independent School District, which went into partnership with K12 Inc. to open a virtual academy this year, said the district did not have documents responding to the request at the virtual campus as “it contracts with a private company to handle all employment of personnel and staffing-related data.”


“In other instances, The Tribune was directed to make a request to the private company. A lawyer for Responsive Ed Solutions, a charter school that also contracts with K12 Inc., wrote that most employees of its virtual school were hired by the company and provided the email address of a K12 lawyer. A K12 Inc. spokesman then told The Tribune that “confidential information about K12’s employees” could not be disclosed.”
















via Diane Ravitch’s blog http://ift.tt/1ezZLDm