K12 Inc. Deploys D2L’s Brightspace Across High School, Middle School and Fuel Education

KITCHENER, ON–(Marketwired – August 11, 2016) – D2L, a global learning technology leader, today announced that K12 Inc., one of the largest virtual schools in the U.S., is continuing to expand the use of the Brightspace LMS. Following a successful rollout to thousands of students across the country enrolled in K12’s high school, K12 is now making Brightspace available to thousands more middle school students.

In addition, K12’s Fuel Education will use Brightspace for the distribution of its curriculum. Fuel Education will begin rolling out Brightspace in December with a full rollout scheduled for the first half of 2017.

D2L’s Brightspace platform was embraced by K12 due to a fundamental distinction: Brightspace delivers a personalized learning experience, not the one-size-fits-all model utilized by traditional LMS offerings. Brightspace was designed with modern students in mind and offers a clean, responsive user experience as well as integrated social media, game-based learning, chat and advanced video features. The new Brightspace Daylight experience lets students and teachers use smartphones, tablets or any browser-enabled device, eliminating barriers to learning. Teachers also favor Brightspace because engagement data — offered via real-time learning analytics </strong–< can help them improve student outcomes.

“D2L’s customers such as K12 Inc. care deeply about the educational experience and want a more personalized, engaging learning platform to help each learner learn their own way,” said John Baker, CEO of D2L. “Brightspace is an easy, flexible and smart LMS that was built from the ground up to do exactly that. We are very pleased that K12 and Fuel Education learners will benefit from this personalized approach and learn on their own terms to achieve their academic goals. We look forward to continuing to broaden the scope of our partnership.”

“Our goal in considering a new LMS was to improve student engagement, retention and outcomes while advancing our effort to deliver a more mobile-ready curriculum,” explained Lynda Cloud, Executive Vice President of Products at K12 Inc. “After thorough evaluation, K12 chose D2L to power K12’s next-generation online high school and middle school. The Brightspace platform has enabled us to provide students, learning coaches, and teachers with an innovative, engaging and collaborative learning experience that puts tools and resources right at their fingertips. Parents find that both they and their students have better visibility into what students need to do each day, allowing them to spend more time learning.”

D2L’s track record of innovation has been widely recognized. In March, Fast Company ranked D2L #6 on the Most Innovative Companies of 2016 list in the Data Science Category, amongst Google, IBM, Spotify, Costco, and Blue Cross Blue Shield. eLearning Magazine recently rated D2L as #1 in Adaptive Learning, and Brightspace was recently named the #1 LMS in Higher Ed by Ovum Research.

To learn more about Brightspace, visit http://www.d2l.com/products/learning-environment/.

ABOUT K12 INC.

K12 Inc. (LRN) is driving innovation and advancing the quality of education by delivering state-of-the-art, digital learning platforms and technology to students and school districts across the globe. K12’s award winning curriculum serves over 2,000 schools and school districts and has delivered more than four million courses over the past decade. K12 is a company of educators with the nation’s largest network of K-12 online school teachers, providing instruction, academic services, and learning solutions to public schools and districts, traditional classrooms, blended school programs, and directly to families. The K12 program is offered through K12 partner public schools in approximately two-thirds of the states and the District of Columbia, and through private schools serving students in all 50 states and more than 100 countries. More information can be found at K12.com.

ABOUT FUEL EDUCATION

Fuel Education™ partners with school districts to fuel personalized learning and transform the education experience inside and outside the classroom. The company provides innovative solutions for pre-K through 12th grade that empower districts to implement successful online and blended learning programs. Its open, easy-to-use Personalized Learning Platform, PEAK™, enables teachers to customize courses using their own content, FuelEd courses and titles, third-party content, and open educational resources. Fuel Education offers one of the industry’s largest catalogs of K–12 digital curriculum, certified instruction, professional development, and educational services. FuelEd has helped 2,000 school districts to improve student outcomes and better serve diverse student populations. To learn more, visit getfueled.com and Twitter.

ABOUT BRIGHTSPACE

D2L’s Brightspace is a digital learning platform that helps schools and institutions deliver personalized learning experiences in a classroom or online to people anywhere in the world. Created for the digital learner, Brightspace is cloud-based, runs on mobile devices, and offers rich multimedia to increase engagement, productivity and knowledge retention. The platform makes it easy to design courses, create content, and grade assignments, giving instructors more time to focus on what’s most important – greater teaching and learning. At the same time, analytics reports track and deliver insights into the performance levels of departments, courses, or individuals.

ABOUT D2L

D2L is the software leader that makes learning experiences better. The company’s cloud-based platform, Brightspace, is easy to use, flexible, and smart. With Brightspace, organizations can personalize the experience for every learner to deliver real results. The company is a world leader in learning analytics: its platform predicts learner performance so that organizations can take action in real-time to keep learners on track. Brightspace is used by learners in higher education, K-12, and the enterprise sector, including the Fortune 1000. D2L has operations in the United States, Canada, Europe, Australia, Brazil, and Singapore. www.d2l.com

© 2016 D2L Corporation.

The D2L family of companies includes D2L Corporation, D2L Ltd, D2L Australia Pty Ltd, D2L Europe Ltd, D2L Asia Pte Ltd, and D2L Brasil Soluções de Tecnologia para Educação Ltda.

All D2L marks are trademarks of D2L Corporation. Please visit D2L.com/trademarks for a list of D2L marks.

Former L.A. charter school leader fined for conflict of interest

A former local charter school operator has agreed to pay a $16,000 fine for misconduct that includes using public education funds to lease her own buildings.

Under a tentative settlement with the state’s Fair Political Practices Commission, Kendra Okonkwo acknowledges that she improperly used her official position “to influence governmental decisions in which she had a financial interest,” according to documents posted Monday by the state agency.

The settlement or “stipulation” notes two instances of wrongdoing: establishing leases for the school in two buildings that Okonkwo owned and arranging for public funds to pay for renovations to these structures.

The school, Wisdom Academy for Young Scientists, lost its charter to operate and closed last year.

Parents at 20th Street Elementary confront district’s rejection of their takeover attempt

“In this matter, Okonkwo engaged in a pattern of violations in which she made, used or attempted to use her official position to influence governmental decisions involving real property in which she had a significant financial interest,” the commission said.

Okonkwo declined to comment, but the commission cited several factors for not imposing a larger fine, including that “Okonkwo understands the seriousness of the violations and accepts responsibility for her actions.”

The South Los Angeles school, which opened in 2006, had been targeted by regulators for several years.

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The violations cited this week by the state date from 2010 and 2011, when Okonkwo earned a total of $223,615 as the elementary school’s executive director. She also received about $19,000 a month in rent from the school. She attempted to eliminate the appearance of conflict by assigning the property to a new, separate corporation, for which her mother signed the leases. But the arrangement did not pass legal muster, according to the state.

The other violation pertains to Okonkwo signing contracts for school-funded renovations worth $62,000. Okonkwo addressed this conflict by resigning as executive director. Someone else then signed the renovation contract.

Charters are independently operated and exempt from some rules that govern traditional campuses. Wisdom Academy began under the jurisdiction of the L.A. Unified School District, which refused to renew the school after its initial five-year charter expired.

A report to the school board cited “serious concerns pertaining to violations of conflict-of-interest laws against self-dealing on the part of the school’s executive director as well as insufficient governance by the … board of directors.”

The L.A. Unified action did not close the school because, under state law, a charter can appeal to the Los Angeles County Office of Education, which chose to take over as the supervising agency.

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But the county office eventually turned against the school as well, revoking its charter in 2014, and leading to its shutdown at the end of the last school year.

The county cited a report by state auditors, who concluded that administrators may have funneled millions in state funds to Okonkwo, her relatives and close associates.

Charter school awarded $7.1 million in case against LAUSD

Charter school awarded $7.1 million in case against LAUSD

Some of the allegations bordered on the bizarre.

Auditors questioned, for example, the use of school funds to pay a $566,803 settlement to a former teacher who sued the organization for wrongful termination after she was directed by Okonkwo to travel with her to Nigeria to marry Okonkwo’s brother-in-law for the purpose of making him a United States citizen.

The organization’s payment of the settlement was inappropriate because Okonkwo was not acting within the scope of her school employment, auditors concluded.

The school took its fight to survive all the way to the state board of education.

Follow the Times’ education initiative to inform parents, educators and students across California >> 

In papers filed with the state, Wisdom’s leaders accused auditors and the county office of misconduct and “open hostility … against this African American operated school,” calling it “the culmination of years of unfair treatment and retaliation … because a few [county office] staff members dislike our school’s founder Kendra Okonkwo, her family, the thickness of her accent, and the color of her skin.”

State officials declined to overrule the charter revocation.

howard.blume@latimes.com

Twitter: @howardblume 

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No one knows “findings based on incomplete and inaccurate reporting” better than K12…

What the Mercury News Didn’t Want Readers To Know About California Virtual Academies

The Mercury News published several recent stories critical of K12 and the online charter schools California Virtual Academies (CAVA).  The paper claims to have established certain “findings,” however these are largely based on incomplete and inaccurate reporting. It is a classic case of advocacy journalism:  ignore key facts and information that do not support a desired narrative. 

For example, on student attendance, the Mercury News stated that CAVA schools claim funding for students who log on for one minute.  (It happens to be the exact same charge made by the California Teachers Association in its campaign to disparage the CAVA charter schools and force them to unionize).  It is not true. 

A log on alone—regardless of duration—would not be submitted by CAVA nor eligible for funding. Under California’s Independent Study law, a student’s education activities are used to determine attendance – not seat time.  Teachers at CAVA schools are required to determine the days the student was working and the education activities completed during the work period (both online and offline). The Mercury News simply ignores the latter. 

So what did the paper rely on to support its “one minute” attendance claim? A snippet from a teacher training audio recording taken wildly out of context and huge pile of hearsay from the teachers union’s organizing committee.

More amazing is what the paper did not report.  None of its articles even mention California’s Independent Study law under which the CAVA schools, and other online school programs, operate.  It gets worse.  Not only does the paper ignore the law, it ignores the written guidelines provided by the California Department of Education (CDE) for how independent study programs determine and report attendance, including specific guidance for charter schools operating under independent study.

Further, the paper disregards the CAVA schools’ approved policies regarding attendance which are consistent with California’s independent study law and the guidelines from CDE.  Here is an excerpt from CAVA @ San Mateo’s Parent Student Handbook:

“In order for a student to receive attendance credit for a given school day, the student must be actively engaged in completing assignments given by the teacher on that school day…At the end of each learning period, the teacher evaluates the work or work products completed by the student and determines how many attendance days can be credited for the learning period.”

CAVA teachers are trained on how to accurately credit verifiable attendance consistent with California’s independent study rules for non-classroom based charter schools.  Teachers sign Attendance Agreement forms demonstrating that they understand the policies and agree to accurately credit verifiable attendance for each student.  Attendance reports at CAVA schools are regularly audited by independent, licensed auditors, and submitted to the CA Department of Education, per state law. 

All of these facts are either public information or were provided to the Mercury News, but were left out of its articles.  Rather than accurately and honestly report the facts, the lead reporter doubled down, repeating the same false claims about CAVA’s attendance policies, and firing off a broad email to California legislators that read like something a lobbyist from a special interest group would send, asking if Assemblymembers “believe an audit of the attendance records is needed to ensure taxpayers haven’t been defrauded.”

Well, independent audits on CAVA’s attendance are conducted regularly and sent to the CDE but nobody would know since the Mercury News didn’t report that or any of the other important facts and information detailed above.  But why let the law and those other pesky facts get in the way of a good story?  It’s no wonder trust in the mainstream media is at an all-time low.

Also overlooked by the Mercury News were the most important stakeholders: the nearly 14,000 students at CAVA schools.  Here the reporter utterly failed at any semblance of neutrality by dismissing the predominant views of the thousands of CAVA families and hundreds of CAVA teachers who are committed to their schools. 

Why do parents choose CAVA? Because children who enroll in CAVA are often dealing with challenging circumstances:  bullying, special needs, autism, medical issues, academic issues, and many others. Parents are looking for alternatives and the freedom to choose the school they believe is best for their children.  For many families, schools like CAVA are the only public school option they have.  Take it away and they have nothing. They would be forced back into schools they fled.

Next week, over 800 students across California will graduate from CAVA schools (over 200 graduated last semester).  Real kids. Real lives. Real successes.  I wonder, will the Mercury News tell their stories? 

Thank you, Assemblywoman Susan Bonilla, for writing a bill to ban for-profit operators of virtual schools.

The bill, Assembly Bill 1084, “would prevent charter schools that do more than 80 percent of their teaching online from being operated by for-profit companies or hiring them to facilitate instruction. If passed and signed into law by Gov. Jerry Brown, the legislation would effectively put companies like K12 out of business in the Golden State.

“Our taxpayer dollars should be spent in the classroom to help our students, not used to enrich a company’s shareholders or drive up its profits,” Bonilla said in an interview.

But K12 spokesman Mike Kraft railed against the proposal, calling it “another cynical effort to take away the rights of parents to choose the way their kids are educated.”

How cynical are those “special interests” who want to take away K12 Inc.’s ability to profit while providing inferior education!?

That company is K12 Inc., a publicly traded Virginia firm that allows students who spend as little as one minute during a school day logged onto its software to be counted as “present,” as it reaps tens of millions of dollars annually in state funding while graduating fewer than half of its high school students. Students who live almost anywhere south of Humboldt County may sign up for one of the company’s schools.

Assemblywoman Bonilla was acting in response to a brilliant series of articles by Jessica Calefati in the San Jose Mercury News, exposing the profitable but educationally bankrupt K12 Inc., the corporation founded by the Milken brothers and publicly traded on the New York Stock Exchange.

I hope Assemblywoman Bonilla and the media will review the abundant research on K12 Inc, such as the Credo study or the NEPC study. What she will learn is that students in online charter schools lose ground and fall behind their peers in real schools.

If California chooses to waste millions of taxpayer dollars on bad schools to enrich the stockholders and the Milken family, shame on the legislators and the governor.

via Diane Ravitch’s blog

http://ift.tt/1UowL7f

Hugh Jackson wrote this disturbing article for Nevada NPR. It demonstrates the extent to which the charter industry is expanding, bringing in lucrative real estate deals, speculation, and for-profit entrepreneurs from out of state. More than 35,000 students have enrolled in charters, at a cost to taxpayers of a quarter billion dollars.

 

He writes:

 

“Charter schools are publicly funded, but privately operated. The result is a charter-school industry, encompassing what can be a dizzying array of arrangements and contracts between the schools, their unelected boards, state agencies, property developers, for-profit management companies, nonprofit arms of private companies, hedge funds and investment firms, and myriad consultants, contractors and education-industry vendors. Virtually every dollar everyone in the charter-school industry makes is provided by the taxpaying public….

 

“Of the quarter-billion dollars Nevada taxpayers provided to charter schools in 2014-15, more than a fifth of it — $54 million, according to state data — went to schools managed by a single for-profit company, a Florida-based firm called Academica. Established in 1996 and boasting close ties to then-Florida Gov. Jeb Bush, Academica has been the center of numerous controversies in that state, particularly after the Miami Herald reported that the firm used public money to lease real estate from development companies owned by the same people who own Academica, brothers Fernando and Ignacio Zulueta. Academica has also come under fire in Florida for, among other things, setting up a separate “college” in one of its charter high schools and charging taxpayers hundreds of thousands of dollars to provide students with two-year “degrees” of dubious worth.

 

“Academica is not a publicly traded company, and any financial information about the firm is difficult to come by, let alone the type of granular financial reporting that might indicate how much of Academica’s Nevada revenue stays in Nevada, as opposed to flying out of the state as profit.

 

“As a practical matter, Academica is not only relied upon every step of the way, but the instigator. No doubt some charter schools are the result of concerned citizens and parents banding together, from the bottom up, as it were, to fill what they perceive to be a particular educational niche or void. With a new Academica school, the far more likely scenario involves a for-profit company making market-based decisions on location, timing, demographics and such, not unlike Walmart determining where to open a new Sam’s Club. Upon determining that a new project pencils out, Academica finds the statutorily requisite citizen’s charter school board. (The state does not require a charter school board to take competitive bids before selecting a management firm, and such a bidding process would be unthinkable in schools being spearheaded by Academica….).

 

“Enter the investment funds

 

“To be eligible for state funding to build or improve a charter school facility, the school has to have been opened for three years. So it needs financing to bridge the gap between the school’s opening and its eligibility for state facility financing (it’s already receiving operating funds from the state).

 

“The Turner-Agassi Charter School Facilities Fund is one of several for-profit investment funds in the nation that have attracted capital from a) foundations, institutional investors and individuals who are “for” education; and b) hedge funds, investment banks and other investors drawn to generous federal tax credits on income earned from the public through charter-school profits.

 

“Started by Southern California financier Bobby Turner in partnership with long-time Las Vegas charter-school champion Andre Agassi, Turner-Agassi has provided bridge financing for at least four Academica building projects in Nevada and is doing the same for most of Academica’s aggressive expansion in the state.

 

“Here’s more or less how it works:

 

“Turner-Agassi puts up money to develop property for a charter school. After three years, during which time the school, which is to say the public, rents the property from the investment fund, the charter is eligible for state financing to buy the property from Turner-Agassi.

 

“The school is purchased from the investment fund with money raised by revenue bonds issued through the state Division of Business and Industry —
public debt. Charter-school bonds in Nevada are so-called limited-obligation bonds, backed by the school’s revenue (which comes from the state education budget), as opposed to general obligation bonds, backed by revenue from a tax increase. Limited obligation bonds typically pay higher interest rates than general obligation bonds, which translates into higher interest payments for the public when it pays off the debt….

 

“Project dates listed on Turner-Agassi’s portfolio online indicate Academica will be eligible for a first batch of state loans to purchase the investment fund’s developments in 2017.

 

“Meanwhile, regardless of who owns the property the charter school is in, the management company is charging the school, which is to say the public, for management/professional fees on top of salaries, insurance, energy and other operating costs. Those fees can be spread through various categories of school balance sheets provided to the state, but those reports show that in Academica’s case, management fees totaled, at the very least, $3 million in the 2014-15 school year.

 

“The arrangement between Turner-Agassi and Academica is only one model that might be used to finance construction in the charter-school industry.

 

“For instance, a few years ago, Imagine Schools, one of the nation’s largest charter firms, made national headlines at its 100 Academy of Excellence in North Las Vegas when 40 percent of the school’s state-provided revenue was spent on lease payments to a real-estate investment trust. As a Nevada Education Department official told the New York Times in 2010, “After paying for real estate and management, 100 Academy has very little left over for education.”

 

“Shenanigans and accountability

 

“Academica is the undisputed heavyweight of Nevada’s charter-school industry and has the most aggressive expansion plans in the state. But practices at other charter operations have been attracting more — or at least more critical — official scrutiny.

 

“The state of Nevada provided Silver State High School in Carson City nearly $5 million in the 2014-15 school year. Along with all the ways a school might spend the public’s money, Silver State decided one of them was investing in the Wall Street derivatives market. When a member of the school’s board brought the investment to the attention of the State Public School Charter Authority (SPSCA), the authority ruled the investment a no-no and ordered the school closed at the end of the current school year.

 

“Quest Academy, with four campuses in Southern Nevada, received more than $10 million from the state in 2014-15. In October the SPSCA documented how members of the school’s board had hired family members in violation of nepotism regulations. The SPSCA has subsequently dissolved the board, appointed a receiver to oversee school finances, and the SPSCA could ultimately revoke or refuse to renew the school’s charter. This comes three years after the SPSCA forced Quest to restructure its board and fire a principal upon discovering staff was paid thousands of dollars in unauthorized bonuses, and the principal was spending a bunch of unauthorized money on travel and shopping.

 

“As for charter schools being the cradle of innovation, the pedagogical emphasis for which charters are perhaps most renowened is “teaching to the test” even more intensely than testing-obsessed public schools.

 
“And then there are the cyber schools. Yes, in Nevada, online schools are charter schools, too. The largest, Nevada Virtual Academy, operated by the corporate giant K12 Inc., received nearly $30 million in public funds in 2014-15 to provide online education to 2,600 students, a per-student cost of $11,500. Per-student spending at Academica schools averaged, by contrast, less than $8,000.

 

“Higher per-student spending at an online school seems counterintuitive. After all, there is no property to develop, no classrooms or desks. But as cyber schools have emerged as one of the largest segments of the charter-school industry, they’ve become renowned not only for poor performance, but also for frenetic enrollment churn. Online schools market heavily to attract students, but online learning isn’t for everyone, and many students withdraw to return to brick-and-mortar schools. That churn could manifest itself as higher costs in lots of ways. The state can be charged for students who are no longer in the schools (as was found in a Colorado audit of K12 a few years ago). Or the state gets saddled for up-front student costs even if those students leave later. Or in K12’s case, maybe the company just isn’t very good at holding down costs: Nevada Virtual Academy spent more than $2 million for textbooks last year. Academica, with nearly three times as many students, spent $219,000. State data indicates K12’s management fees, at least $4 million, were also larger than Academica’s.

 

“Proposed rules would effectively give the SPCSA additional authority to force a charter school to fire its management organization and make it easier for the authority to deny a charter school’s renewal.

 

“The most adamant objections to those rules have been filed by Nevada Virtual Academy and the state’s second largest cyber charter school, Nevada Connections, owned by the international corporate education giant Pearson Inc.

 

“The cases of Silver State and Quest, as well as the proposed regulations, appear to reflect a commitment of the SPCSA and its executive director, Patrick Gavin, to try to hold charter schools accountable.

 

“It might be a tall order. Although Nevada’s charter-accountability regulations were hailed as improved in a recent national report, that report noted that the SPSCA does not have the requisite staff to conduct consistent monitoring crucial to effective regulation. The standard recommended staff is roughly one monitor for every 1,000 charter-school students. In Nevada, Gavin estimates it is closer to one for every 5,000. The SPSCA is funded by fees charged to authority-sponsored schools, currently about one percent of a school’s operating budget. Boosting those fees will be a top SPCSA priority when the Legislature meets next year.

 

“Why are we doing this, anyway?

 
“Everyone is in favor of choice in education,” Ryan Reeves, director of Academica’s Nevada operations, told the Review-Journal in 2014.

 

“It’s a seductive argument in an era when identity and self-worth are often shaped by where one shops.

 

“And charters are breaking down barriers erected by decades of entrenched education bureaucracy, thus reinvigorating education with a spirit and dedication that just can’t be found in tired public schools lumbering along under the weight of oppressive administrative bloat. Indeed, charter schools are the heart of education innovation.

 

“Or so the argument goes.

 

“Independent analysis suggests otherwise. Assessments conducted by the Center for Research on Education Outcomes (CREDO) at Stanford University are frequently cited by the media and charter-school supporters. Yet even the results of CREDO’s most recent national study were mixed at best, finding charter schools performing slightly, if at all, better than traditional schools at reading, and performing, if anything, worse than traditional schools in math. Critics charge that even CREDO’s modest findings overstate the performance of charter schools.

 

“As for charter schools being the cradle of innovation, the pedagogical emphasis for which charters are perhaps most renowned is “teaching to the test” even more intensely than testing-obsessed public schools — test scores being the key, if not the only, means of assessing educational outcomes in a publicly funded but privately run school….

 

“A good portion of the public acceptance of charters is attributed to what is sometimes called “sector agnosticism” — the view that how a school is managed, or who makes money from it, is irrelevant so long as the results are good.

 

“But charter companies and pro-charter politicians and advocates are anything but agnostic. The rapid growth of the charter-school industry has been accompanied by relentless and disingenuous attacks on public schools and the people who work in them. The interest groups, ideologues and politicians who most zealously promote “school choice” are often the most eager to malign public institutions.

 

“Charter schools emerged on the scene more than a quarter century ago as laboratories where public-school systems could test methods, and the most promising results could be implemented elsewhere in public schools. Some charter supporters, parents and charter-industry executives and investors obviously mean well and still view charters as an overall benefit to the public good.

 

“But today’s charter industry, much like Nevada’s voucher plan, reflects a chronic civic defeatism. Echoing the perverse social Darwinism of more than a century ago, faith in free-market education is a surrender to pessimism. Society really isn’t incapable of providing a fair educational opportunity to every citizen. Some people are doomed to fail, that’s just the way it is, so best to segregate those with promise, the achievers, in separate schools. As for everyone else, well, too bad for them.

 

“In the meantime, capitalizing on politically correct disdain for public institutions and a consumer culture’s visceral embrace of “choice,” and truly impressed by the steady flow of public money through the public-education revenue stream, the private sector is working feverishly … maybe to create quality schools, but definitely to drain more and more money from that stream.”

 

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

• The Florida charter school started by Jeb Bush was shut down in 2008. The school is described by The New York Times as “an image-softening vehicle for [his] political comeback.” Suffering from financial woes and academic inconsistencies, the local school board voted to immediately terminate Bush’s Liberty City Charter School’s contract. Bush’s Foundation for Excellence in Education plays a role in for-profit charter schools’ influence on education reform, mixing politics and policy.

• Ohio’s largest online charter school, Electronic Classroom of Tomorrow (ECOT), spent $2.27 million in advertising. The private, for-profit management company’s records aren’t public, but the state audit reports that the school also paid $21 million on two for-profit companies owned by ECOT’s founder.

• The for-profit charter school operator, Imagine Schools, was ordered to pay $1 million for a real estate self-dealing scheme. Read Imagine Schools’ profile here.

• After a recent poll found that voters want greater oversight for charter schools, In The Public Interest and the Center for Popular Democracy released The Charter School Accountability Agenda: An 11-Point Program for Reform, which outlines steps for states to ensure public accountability and provide oversight to improve student learning and reduce instances of fraud.

• Charter school budgets should be transparent and open to the public. In Michigan, charter school founder Steven J. Ingersoll was found guilty of three criminal accounts regarding tax fraud. According to federal prosecutors, Ingersoll “ran a shell game in moving large sums of money between their business and personal bank accounts in an effort to hide the money for tax purposes.”

• A new report examines a California virtual school managed by the for-profit education company, K12, Inc. The study focuses on student performance, management practices, and oversight mechanisms at California Virtual Academies (CAVA), whose students are “at risk of low quality educational outcomes, and some are falling through the cracks entirely, in a poorly resources and troubled educational environment.”

#CharterScam

The post News from Cashing In On Kids appeared first on Cashing in on Kids.

Does the Onion have secret sources inside the U.S. Department of Education? its stories are typically a week ahead of the real news. Some things are impossible to satirize.


“WASHINGTON—Citing the need to measure student achievement as its top priority, the U.S. Department of Education launched a new initiative Thursday to replace the nation’s entire K-12 curriculum with a single standardized test.


“According to government officials, the four-hour-long Universal Education Assessment will be used in every public school across the country, will contain identical questions for every student based on material appropriate for kindergarten through 12th grade, and will permanently take the place of more traditional methods such as classroom instruction and homework assignments.”
















via Diane Ravitch’s blog http://ift.tt/17jdkHy

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Press Release

K12 Inc. Second Quarter Fiscal 2015 Earnings Conference Call Details

Published: Jan 15, 2015 10:26 a.m. ET

HERNDON, Va., Jan 15, 2015 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE via COMTEX) –

K12 Inc. LRN, -2.35% announced today it plans to host a conference call to discuss second quarter fiscal year 2015 financial results during a conference call scheduled for Thursday, January 29, 2015 at 8:30 a.m. eastern time (ET).

A live webcast of the call will be available at http://public.viavid.com/index.php?id=112436. To participate in the live call, investors and analysts should dial (877) 407-4019 (domestic) or (201) 689-8337 (international) at 8:15 a.m. (ET). No passcode is required. Please access the web site at least 15 minutes prior to the start of the call.

A replay of the call will be available starting on January 29, 2015 at 11:00 a.m. ET through February 28, 2015 at 11:00 a.m. ET, at (877) 660-6853 (domestic) or (201) 612-7415 (international) using conference ID 13598377. A webcast replay of the call will be available at http://public.viavid.com/index.php?id=112436 for 30 days.

About K12 Inc.

K12 Inc. LRN, -2.35% is driving innovation and advancing the quality of education by delivering state-of-the-art, digital learning platforms and technology to students and school districts across the globe. K12's award winning curriculum serves over 2,000 schools and school districts and has delivered more than four million courses over the past decade. K12 is a company of educators with the nation's largest network of K-12 online school teachers, providing instruction, academic services, and learning solutions to public schools and districts, traditional classrooms, blended school programs, and directly to families. The K12program is offered through K12partner public schools in approximately two-thirds of the states and the District of Columbia, and through private schools serving students in all 50 states and more than 100 countries. More information can be found at K12.com.

 CONTACT: K12 Inc. Investor Contact: Mike Kraft, 571-353-7778 VP Investor Relations mkraft@k12.com or Press Contact: Anthony Guglielmi, 571-392-2737 Director Corporate Communications aguglielmi@k12.com 

Copyright (C) 2015 GlobeNewswire, Inc. All rights reserved.

The MarketWatch News Department was not involved in the creation of the content.

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Anthony Cody was not heartened by Marc Tucker’s vision of a new accountability system with fewer tests. In this post, he explains why. If ever there was a need for close reading, he believes, this is it.


Cody writes:


“Tucker’s plan is confusing. In a proposal in which accountability remains closely tied to a set of high stakes tests, Tucker cites the “Failure of Test-based Accountability,” and eloquently documents how this approach doomed NCLB.


“Tucker speaks about the professionalization of teaching, and points out how teaching has been ravaged by constant pressure to prepare for annual tests. But his proposal still seems wedded to several very questionable premises.


“First, while he blames policymakers for the situation, he seems to accept that the struggles faced by our schools are at least partly due to the inadequacy of America’s teachers. I know of no objective evidence that would support this indictment.


“Second, he argues that fewer, “higher quality” tests will somehow rescue us from their oppressive qualities. He also suggests, as did Duncan in 2010, that we can escape the “narrowing of the curriculum” by expanding the subject matter that would be tested.


“It is worth noting that many of the Asian countries that do so well on international test contests likewise have fewer tests. This chart shows that Shanghai, Japan and Korea all have only three big tests during the K12 years. However, because these tests have such huge stakes attached to them, the entire system revolves around them, and students’ lives and family incomes are spent on constant test preparation, in and out of school.


“Third, and this is the most fundamental problem, is that Tucker suggests that the economic future of our students will only be guaranteed if we educate them better. Tucker writes:


“Outsourcing of manufacturing and services to countries with much lower labor costs has combined with galloping automation to eliminate an ever-growing number of low-skilled and semi-skilled jobs and jobs involving routine work.


“The result is that a large and growing proportion of young people leaving high school with just the basic skills can no longer look forward to a comfortable life in the middle class, but will more likely face a future of economic struggle.


“This does not represent a decline from some standard that high school graduates used to meet. It is as high as any standard the United States has ever met. And it is wholly inadequate now. It turns out, then, that we are now holding teachers accountable for student performance we never expected before, a kind and quality of performance for which the present education system was never designed. That is manifestly unfair.”


“Tucker then repeats what has become the basic dogma of education reform. The economy of the 21st century demands our students be educated to much higher levels so we can effectively compete with our international rivals. Education — and ever better education to ever higher standards — is the key to restoring the middle class.”


But Cody objects:


“I do not believe the economy of the 21st century is waiting for some more highly educated generation, at which time middle class jobs will materialize out of thin air.


“Corporations are engaged in a systemic drive to cut the number of employees at all levels. When Microsoft laid off 18,000 skilled workers, executives made it clear that expenses – meaning employees, must be minimized. Profits require that production be lean. There is no real shortage of people with STEM degrees.


“On the whole, it is still an advantage for an individual to be well educated. But the idea that education is some sort of limiting factor on our economic growth is nonsense. And the idea that the future of current and future graduates will be greatly improved if they are better educated is likewise highly suspect.


“Bill Gates recently acknowledged in an interview at the American Enterprise Institute, “capitalism in general, over time, will create more inequality and technology, over time, will reduce demand for jobs particularly at the lower end of the skill set.”


“This is the future we face until there is a fundamental economic realignment. Fewer jobs. Continued inequality and greater concentration of wealth.”


Cody argues for a different vision, in which accountability goes far beyond teachers and schools:


“For far too long educators have accepted the flagellations of one accountability system after another, and time has come to say “enough.”


“We need to learn (and teach) the real lesson of NCLB – and now the Common Core. The problem with NCLB was not with the *number* of tests, nor with when the tests were given, nor with the subject matter on the tests, or the format of the tests, or the standards to which the tests were aligned.


“The problem with NCLB was that it was based on a false premise, that somehow tests can be used to pressure schools into delivering equitable outcomes for students. This approach did not work, and as we are seeing with Common Core, will not work, no matter how many ways you tinker with the tests.


“The idea that our education system holds the key to our economic future is a seductive one for educators. It makes us seem so important, and can be used to argue for investments in our schools. But this idea carries a price, because if we accept that our economic future depends on our schools, real action to address fundamental economic problems can be deferred. We can pretend that somehow we are securing the future of the middle class by sending everyone to preschool – meanwhile the actual middle class is in a shambles, and college students are graduating in debt and insecure.


“The entire exercise is a monumental distraction, and anyone who engages in this sort of tinkering has bought into a shell game, a manipulation of public attention away from real sources of inequity.”


Cody says:


“We need some accountability for children’s lives, for their bellies being full, for safe homes and neighborhoods, and for their futures when they graduate. Once there is a healthy ecosystem for them to grow in, and graduate into, the inequities we see in education will shrink dramatically. But that requires much broader economic and social change — change that neither policymakers or central planners like Tucker are prepared to call for.”
















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

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Will K12 (LRN) Stock Be Negatively Affected By This Ratings Downgrade?

BY Amanda Schiavo Follow | 08/05/14 – 08:42 AM EDT

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Find out if (LRN) is in Cramer's Portfolio.

NEW YORK (TheStreet) –K12 Inc. (LRN_) was downgraded to “hold” from “buy” at Stifel Nicolaus (SF_) on Tuesday.

The firm said it lowered its rating on the technology based education company due to a lower volume of business and increased pressures in Pennsylvania which is reducing the amount of the company's outsourced resources.

Must Read: Warren Buffett's 25 Favorite Stocks

STOCKS TO BUY: TheStreet Quant Ratings has identified a handful of stocks that can potentially TRIPLE in the next 12 months. Learn more.



TheStreet Ratings team rates K12 INC as a Hold with a ratings score of C. TheStreet Ratings Team has this to say about their recommendation:

“We rate K12 INC (LRN) a HOLD. The primary factors that have impacted our rating are mixed some indicating strength, some showing weaknesses, with little evidence to justify the expectation of either a positive or negative performance for this stock relative to most other stocks. The company's strengths can be seen in multiple areas, such as its revenue growth, largely solid financial position with reasonable debt levels by most measures and growth in earnings per share. However, as a counter to these strengths, we also find weaknesses including a generally disappointing performance in the stock itself and disappointing return on equity.”

Highlights from the analysis by TheStreet Ratings Team goes as follows:

  • LRN's revenue growth has slightly outpaced the industry average of 2.6%. Since the same quarter one year prior, revenues slightly increased by 7.9%. This growth in revenue appears to have trickled down to the company's bottom line, improving the earnings per share.
  • LRN's debt-to-equity ratio is very low at 0.07 and is currently below that of the industry average, implying that there has been very successful management of debt levels. Along with this, the company maintains a quick ratio of 3.20, which clearly demonstrates the ability to cover short-term cash needs.
  • 46.01% is the gross profit margin for K12 INC which we consider to be strong. Regardless of LRN's high profit margin, it has managed to decrease from the same period last year. Despite the mixed results of the gross profit margin, LRN's net profit margin of 6.78% is significantly lower than the industry average.
  • The company's current return on equity has slightly decreased from the same quarter one year prior. This implies a minor weakness in the organization. Compared to other companies in the Diversified Consumer Services industry and the overall market on the basis of return on equity, K12 INC underperformed against that of the industry average and is significantly less than that of the S&P 500.
  • LRN's stock share price has done very poorly compared to where it was a year ago: Despite any rallies, the net result is that it is down by 25.05%, which is also worse that the performance of the S&P 500 Index. Investors have so far failed to pay much attention to the earnings improvements the company has managed to achieve over the last quarter. Despite the heavy decline in its share price, this stock is still more expensive (when compared to its current earnings) than most other companies in its industry.
  • You can view the full analysis from the report here: LRN Ratings Report

STOCKS TO BUY: TheStreet Quant Ratings has identified a handful of stocks that can potentially TRIPLE in the next 12 months. Learn more.

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