Latest Editorial Proves The Wall Street Journal Will Defend Almost Any For-Profit Education Company

The Wall Street Journal continued its streak of defending for-profit schools with track records of questionable practices and “abysmal results,” this time shifting its focus away from fraudulent for-profit colleges to attempt to sugarcoat the failing online charter company K12 Inc.

The virtual charter school company K12 Inc. recently reached a $168.5 million settlement with the state of California following an investigation into the company’s marketing and management practices. At the same time, the state’s Education Department has announced an audit of a California virtual charter network managed by K12. The Wall Street Journal’s editorial board was, once again, ready to dismiss facts and defend the for-profit education company against what the board views as a politically motivated attack, baselessly claiming that recently substantiated allegations against K12 are “trumped up.”

The California state investigation into K12, launched by state Attorney General Kamala Harris, alleged that the company had engaged in a number of misleading advertising practices about the quality of its online schools, pushed unfair contracts on public charter partners, and inflated student attendance numbers in order to receive more state funding. It was spurred, at least in part, by a whistleblower report and complaints from educators formerly employed by a California charter network managed by K12. Educators at the K12-managed network moved to unionize in 2014, citing excessive workloads and inability to “effectively advocate for students without the threat of retaliation or job loss.”

An investigative series at the San Jose Mercury News earlier this year concluded that K12’s network of schools “is failing key tests used to measure educational success,” that K12-affiliated “teachers have been asked to inflate attendance and enrollment records used to determine taxpayer funding,” and that the companyexploits charter [and] charity laws for money.” An online education expert explained to The Mercury News that K12 “has shown an inordinate level of failure, yet it’s continually given lifelines by policymakers who have irresponsibly ignored what’s going on.”

Yet the Journal contended that another audit of K12’s management practices “looks trumped up” in a July 17 editorial. Complaining about K12’s settlement with the state of California, the editorial board characterized the investigation of K12 as part of a larger “coordinated assault” on for-profit colleges and education companies and claimed that “Democrats are ambushing” the virtual charter school company. According to the editorial board, the further audit of K12 means “Thuggish government marches on.”

The disastrous results of K12’s schooling model have also been well-documented in media investigations and in research from left-leaning and right-leaning organizations. A New York Times investigation raised red flags about K12’s practices as early as 2011, concluding about the company:

A look at the company’s operations, based on interviews and a review of school finances and performance records, raises serious questions about whether K12 schools — and full-time online schools in general — benefit children or taxpayers, particularly as state education budgets are being slashed.

Instead, a portrait emerges of a company that tries to squeeze profits from public school dollars by raising enrollment, increasing teacher workload and lowering standards.

A 2011 Washington Post report singled out K12’s early lobbying efforts and political contributions, pointing to limited data on the effectiveness of virtual charter schools even as the company successfully opened up state markets for its products through political involvement. In 2012, PolitiFact concluded that a Tennessee politician’s assertion that K12’s results were “the bottom of the bottom” was true.

The most recent reports from Mathematica Policy Research, Stanford University’s Center for Research in Education Outcomes, and the Center on Reinventing Public Education concluded that “students of online charter schools had significantly weaker academic performance in math and reading, compared with their counterparts in conventional schools.” BuzzFeed News’ coverage of the reports concluded that “Both Sides Of The Education Debate Are United In Scorn” for online charters like K12 due to “abysmal results” for students.

But K12 has the corporate and conservative credentials to warrant a healthy defense from The Wall Street Journal.

K12 Inc., until recently, called itself a “proud” member of the corporate-driven bill mill American Legislative Education Council (ALEC), which has pushed virtual schools legislation that would create greater demand for products like those produced by K12. K12 has also contributed financially to the Foundation for Excellence in Education, a pro-privatization think tank founded by Jeb Bush that also frequently touts digital learning tools in its policy recommendations. The majority of K12’s executives hail from the corporate world or from other for-profit education companies, and the head of K12’s “curriculum and products organization” previously spearheaded product development at Pearson Publishing.

The Journal has a long history of defending the sometimes indefensible when it comes to for-profit educational companies, often relying on violent analogies to make its point.

The paper stood by shuttered for-profit college chain Corinthian Colleges, even as the company faced multiple state and federal investigations related to its allegedly fraudulent marketing practices and its efforts to facilitate predatory private lending. In fact, the Journal’s editorial board characterized the numerous investigations, launched because of consumer complaints, as “political revenge” by “California job killer” Kamala Harris and a “drive-by shooting” and “contract hit” by the Obama administration. In April 2015, as the company closed its last remaining campuses, The Wall Street Journal wrote a “last rites” editorial lamenting that “the feds and Kamala Harris put 16,000 students on the street.” The now-defunct company has been held legally responsible for its practices, with several investigations and legal actions concluding that Corinthian had, indeed, misled its students about job placement rates and private loan terms, and that former students were owed debt relief.

The Journal has also repeatedly characterized efforts to address these types of fraudulent practices at other for-profit institutions as “regulatory assault,” a “ploy to win over millennials,” a “contract hit” (again), and a political “stealth attack” akin to “drone strikes,” dismissing evidence that these types of schools have taken advantage of veterans and servicemembers, as well as other innocent students, on the taxpayers’ dime.

California Attorney General Kamala Harris reached a settlement of $168.6 million with mega-virtual charter K12 Inc. This settlement reflects the good investigative reporting of Jessica Calefati of the San Jose Mercury News, whose investigative reporting led to Harris’ review of K12’s finances and practices.

There are two more investigations underway: one by the California State Department of Education and the other by the State Controller. Now that virtual charters have been discredited by studies and thrown under the bus by the rest of the charter industry, this aspect of the industry may finally be on the skids.

“California Attorney General Kamala Harris announced Friday the state Department of Justice has reached a $168.5 million settlement with for-profit online charter school operator K12 Inc. over an array of alleged violations of false claims, false advertising and unfair competition laws.

“The settlement comes almost three months after the Bay Area News Group published a two-part investigative series on the publicly-traded Virginia company, which runs a network of profitable but low-performing online charter schools serving about 15,000 students across the state.

“Harris’ office found that K12 and the “virtual” academies it operates across the state used deceptive advertising to mislead parents about students’ academic progress, parent satisfaction and their graduates’ eligibility for University of California and California State University admission.

“The Attorney General’s office also found that K12 and its affiliated schools collected more state funding from the California Department of Education than they were entitled to by submitting inflated student attendance data and that the company improperly coerced the non-profit schools it operates to sign unfavorable contracts that put them in a deep financial hole.”

Politico reports that K12 Inc. disagrees with the characterization of the settlement:

– Speaking of charter schools, California Attorney General Kamala Harris said Friday that virtual charter school operator K12 Inc. will pay $168.5 million to settle [ http://politico.pro/29NP6eM] alleged violations of the state’s false claims, false advertising and unfair competition laws: http://politico.pro/29nJ0Nj . But K12 pushed back on the settlement amount – preferring not to include $160 million in financial relief that Harris’ office says will be provided to certain schools that K12 manages. Instead, K12 CEO Stuart Udell said the company will only pay $2.5 million to settle the case, and another $6 million for Harris’ investigative costs. Udell said his company admitted no wrongdoing. “The Attorney General’s claim of $168.5 million in today’s announcement is flat wrong,” Udell said. “Despite our full cooperation throughout the process, the Office of the Attorney General grossly mischaracterized the value of the settlement, just as it did with regard to the issues it investigated.”

– The settlement is another black eye for the virtual charter industry, which just last month had three reform-minded groups calling for it to be improved, or else problems such as low graduation rates will “overshadow the positive impacts this model currently has on some students.” [ http://politi.co/1tyKbnt] More from Kimberly Hefling: http://politico.pro/29ImzF8

via Diane Ravitch’s blog http://ift.tt/29sNUcE

AB-1084 Charter schools: for-profit entities.

Bill Start

Amended
 IN 
Senate
 June 06, 2016
Amended
 IN 
Assembly
 January 04, 2016

CALIFORNIA LEGISLATURE—
2015–2016 REGULAR SESSION


Assembly Bill
No. 1084
Introduced by Assembly Member Bonilla
February 27, 2015

An act to amend Section 4996.18 of the Business and Professions add Section 47604.2 to the Education Code, relating to social workers. charter schools.

LEGISLATIVE COUNSEL’S DIGEST

AB 1084, as amended, Bonilla.
Social workers: examination. Charter schools: for-profit entities.

Existing law, the Charter Schools Act of 1992, authorizes a charter school to elect to operate as, or be operated by, a nonprofit public benefit corporation, as specified.

This bill, commencing with the 2017–18 school year and each school year thereafter, would do both of the following: (1) prohibit a virtual or online charter school, as defined, from being owned or operated by, or operated as, a for-profit entity; and (2) prohibit a nonprofit online charter school, nonprofit charter virtual academy, and a nonprofit entity that operates an online or virtual charter school from contracting with a for-profit entity for the provision of instructional services.

The Clinical Social Worker Practice Act provides for the licensure and regulation of clinical social workers by the Board of Behavioral Sciences within the Department of Consumer Affairs. The act requires an applicant for licensure to, among other things, have at least 3,200 hours of post-master’s degree supervised experience providing social work services. The act requires an applicant who possesses a master’s degree from a school or department of social work that is a candidate for accreditation by a specified accrediting body, to register with the board as an associate clinical social worker in order to gain the required experience in social work services; however, the act prohibits that applicant from being eligible for examination for licensure until the school or department of social work receives
accreditation. On and after January 1, 2016, an applicant for licensure under the act is required to pass 2 examinations, a California law and ethics examination and a clinical examination.

This bill would, instead, prohibit an applicant who possesses a master’s degree from a school or department of social work that is a candidate for accreditation, from taking only the clinical examination until the school or department receives the accreditation.

Digest Key

Vote:
MAJORITY  
Appropriation:
  
Fiscal Committee:
YESNO  
Local Program:
  

Bill Text

The people of the State of California do enact as follows:

SECTION 1.

 Section 47604.2 is added to the Education Code, to read:

47604.2. Notwithstanding any other law, commencing with the 2017–18 school year, and each school year thereafter:

(a) A virtual or online charter school shall not be owned or operated by, or operated as, a for-profit entity. For purposes of this section, “virtual or online charter school” means a charter school in which at least 80 percent of teaching and pupil interaction occurs via the Internet.

(b) A nonprofit online charter school, nonprofit charter virtual academy, or a nonprofit entity that operates an online or virtual charter school shall not contract with a for-profit entity for the provision of instructional services.

SECTION 1.Section 4996.18 of the Business and Professions Code is amended to read:4996.18.

(a)A person who wishes to be credited with experience toward licensure requirements shall register with the board as an associate clinical social worker prior to obtaining that experience. The application shall be made on a form prescribed by the board.

(b)An applicant for registration shall satisfy the following requirements:

(1)Possess a master’s degree from an accredited school or department of social work.

(2)Have committed no crimes or acts constituting grounds for denial of licensure under Section 480.

(3)Commencing January 1, 2014, have completed training
or coursework, which may be embedded within more than one course, in California law and professional ethics for clinical social workers, including instruction in all of the following areas of study:

(A)Contemporary professional ethics and statutes, regulations, and court decisions that delineate the scope of practice of clinical social work.

(B)The therapeutic, clinical, and practical considerations involved in the legal and ethical practice of clinical social work, including, but not limited to, family law.

(C)The current legal patterns and trends in the mental health professions.

(D)The psychotherapist-patient privilege, confidentiality, dangerous patients, and the treatment of minors with and without parental consent.

(E)A recognition and exploration of the relationship between a practitioner’s sense of self and human values, and his or her professional behavior and ethics.

(F)Differences in legal and ethical standards for different types of work settings.

(G)Licensing law and process.

(c)An applicant who possesses a master’s degree from a school or department of social work that is a candidate for accreditation by the Commission on Accreditation of the Council on Social Work Education shall be eligible, and shall be required, to register as an associate clinical social worker in order to gain experience toward licensure if the applicant has not committed any crimes or acts that constitute grounds for denial of licensure under Section 480. That applicant shall not,
however, be eligible to take the clinical examination until the school or department of social work has received accreditation by the Commission on Accreditation of the Council on Social Work Education.

(d)All applicants and registrants shall be at all times under the supervision of a supervisor who shall be responsible for ensuring that the extent, kind, and quality of counseling performed is consistent with the training and experience of the person being supervised, and who shall be responsible to the board for compliance with all laws, rules, and regulations governing the practice of clinical social work.

(e)Any experience obtained under the supervision of a spouse or relative by
blood or marriage shall not be credited toward the required hours of supervised experience. Any experience obtained under the supervision of a supervisor with whom the applicant has a personal relationship that undermines the authority or effectiveness of the supervision shall not be credited toward the required hours of supervised experience.

(f)An applicant who possesses a master’s degree from an accredited school or department of social work shall be able to apply experience the applicant obtained during the time the accredited school or department was in candidacy status by the Commission on Accreditation of the Council on Social Work Education toward the licensure requirements, if the experience meets the requirements of Section 4996.23. This subdivision shall apply retroactively to persons who possess a master’s degree from an accredited school or department of social work and who obtained experience during the time the accredited school
or department was in candidacy status by the Commission on Accreditation of the Council on Social Work Education.

(g)An applicant for registration or licensure trained in an educational institution outside the United States shall demonstrate to the satisfaction of the board that he or she possesses a master’s of social work degree that is equivalent to a master’s degree issued from a school or department of social work that is accredited by the Commission on Accreditation of the Council on Social Work Education. These applicants shall provide the board with a comprehensive evaluation of the degree and shall provide any other documentation the board deems necessary. The board has the authority to make the final determination as to whether a degree meets all requirements, including, but not limited to, course requirements regardless of evaluation or accreditation.

(h)A registrant
shall not provide clinical social work services to the public for a fee, monetary or otherwise, except as an employee.

(i)A registrant shall inform each client or patient prior to performing any professional services that he or she is unlicensed and is under the supervision of a licensed professional.

Georgia Cyber Academy Graduating Class to be Honored at Ceremony on May 21st

— Lt. Governor Cagle to address 2016 graduates, who have earned over $4.5 million in college scholarships —

06:00 ET
from Georgia Cyber Academy

ATLANTA, May 18, 2016 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ — Georgia Cyber Academy (GCA), an accredited, full-time, online public charter school, will celebrate the graduation of the Class of 2016 at noon on Saturday, May 21, 2016, at Cobb Galleria Centre in Atlanta. Georgia.  Lt. Governor Casey Cagle will provide the commencement address to nearly 450 graduates who have, to date, received over $4.5 million in scholarships including over $3.6 million in Hope Scholarship funds.

The first virtual charter school in Georgia history and currently the largest public school in Georgia, GCA is open to all students who reside in Georgia and serves students from all 159 counties across the state.

The graduation ceremony will also include an address from Ryan Mahoney, GCA Board Chair, as well as Stuart J. Udell, CEO of K12 Inc., the nation’s largest provider of proprietary curriculum and online education programs.

Recognized by the Georgia Department of Education as an AP STEM Achievement School, GCA gives advanced learners the ability to progress faster in subjects at which they excel, including opportunities for advancement in STEM education and through dual enrollment.

College or career minded GCA students can choose from a broad range of profession-focused courses in order to gain a competitive edge for the future, discover their path after high school, explore a possible college major, or take college courses for both high school and college credit at one of the 46 Georgia colleges and Universities that participate in GCA’s Dual Enrollment program.

During this school year the 85 GCA students that participated in the dual enrollment program earned a total of 1,617 college credits, or the equivalent of $889,350 in tuition savings.

Georgia Cyber Academy students are driven to succeed and passionate about their school and communities,” said Matthew Arkin, Head of School at Georgia Cyber Academy. “This Class of 2016 has impressed all of us with their motivation to learn and seek more out of their education.”

GCA senior Evelyn Bailey is this year’s Valedictorian, and she will address her fellow graduates at the ceremony. Evelyn plans to attend the University of Pennsylvania and study digital media design, focusing on the computer science behind animation.

“At GCA, I was able to create a unique class schedule that allowed me to take several college courses at Kennesaw State University during my senior year of high school,” said Evelyn, who enrolled at GCA when she was in 4th grade. “I could do my classwork and homework on my own time, as well as get involved in several extracurricular groups, including a writing club, National Honor Society, and Student Council.”

Other GCA graduates have been accepted into prestigious colleges and universities such as Brown, Georgia Tech, University of South Carolina, Morehouse College, Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, Tuskegee University and Full Sail University.

More information on GCA can be found online at the school website: http://gca.k12.com/.     

About Georgia Cyber Academy

Georgia Cyber Academy (GCA) is an accredited, full-time online public school program that serves students in grades K through 12. As part of the Georgia public school system, GCA is tuition-free, giving parents and families the choice to access the award-winning curriculum and tools provided by K12 Inc. (NYSE:  LRN), the nation’s largest provider of proprietary curriculum and online education programs. For more information about GCA, visit http://gca.k12.com/.    

Logo – http://photos.prnewswire.com/prnh/20150528/219036LOGO

SOURCE Georgia Cyber Academy

Maine’s new virtual charter school sees 25% enrollment drop since opening

The Maine Charter School Commission may explore ways to better inform students about what to expect, perhaps with a ‘tryout’ week.

Staff Writer

AUGUSTA — Maine’s newest charter school, Maine Virtual Academy, has seen 25 percent of its student body withdraw from the school since it opened this fall and continues to have a high number of “truants” who are not logging on enough for their lessons, school officials say.

At the 90-day mark for the school year, 76 students in the initial class of 297 had left the school, according to a Dec. 31 report by three members of the Maine Charter School Commission who are assigned to oversee the school.

On Tuesday, commission Chairwoman Shelley Reed said representatives of K12 Inc., the for-profit online education company that was contracted to provide Maine Virtual Academy’s curriculum, told the commission they should expect to see an initial 20 percent to 25 percent withdrawal rate.

But Reed said the commission may explore ways to better inform incoming families about what to expect, to lower the withdrawal rate. Suggestions include requiring students to take a “tryout week” in the school.

“People have to have a general understanding of what to anticipate,” she said, after the commission’s regular monthly meeting at the State House.

“We need to find a better way,” said commission member Jana Lapoint, agreeing that a tryout period is a good idea. “Maybe a better screening job.”

Maine Virtual Academy board member Peter Mills said Tuesday that school representatives explain to prospective students and families what the school will be like, but the school must, by Maine law, accept any applicant. As more successful students return in subsequent years, the withdrawal rate is expected to decline, he said.

Mills said Tuesday that some students left because they weren’t prepared for a virtual school experience, which requires each student to log on from home, be self-directed and work closely with an at-home learning coach, usually a parent or relative. The school, like all charters, has attracted students who are unhappy with their previous schooling, or have had trouble at previous schools, he said.

“We’re dealing with a certain segment of the student population that has apparently got some problems and they have come to us as a last resort …” he said, adding, “I’m deeply concerned about this phenomenon.”

Supporters of virtual schools say they are good for students who may not fit in at traditional schools, such as athletes in training or students who have been bullied or have special needs. But virtual charter schools also have drawn criticism, in part because local school boards outsource their management to for-profit companies that are beholden to shareholders.

Maine Virtual Academy holds exit interviews with departing students, and reports those results to the commission. That information includes how long the student was enrolled, their reasons for leaving and where they will go to school next. The information wasn’t available for public release Tuesday because students’ names and other identifying information hadn’t been removed, said Bob Kautz, the commission’s executive director.

Some students who were listed as having dropped out never even logged on – so they effectively never attended the school but are still registered as withdrawals, he noted.

Mills didn’t have details from the exit interviews, but the board had requested that information from school officials.

Maine Virtual Academy has a contract with K12 Inc. of Herndon, Virginia, the nation’s largest online education company, for academic services. The state’s other virtual charter school, Maine Connections Academy, contracts its services from Connections Academy, a division of Maryland-based Connections Education, a for-profit company that is owned by Pearson PLC in London, a multinational corporation that formulates standardized tests and publishes textbooks for many schools in the United States.

A spokesman for K12 Inc. didn’t return calls Tuesday regarding the national average for the first-year withdrawal rate at their other schools nationwide.

According to a research study in July 2012 by the National Education Policy Center at the University of Colorado, virtual schools tend to have higher withdrawal rates than physical schools, indicating parents may see virtual schools as a temporary service. Citing a K12 Inc. report on student performance, the study said that 23 percent of students in K12 schools around the country were enrolled for less than a year and 67 percent had been enrolled for fewer than two years.

The withdrawal rate at Maine’s other virtual charter school, Maine Connections Academy, was 11 percent 90 days after it opened in the fall of 2014. This year, its 90-day withdrawal rate had dropped to 7 percent.

Mills said K12 provided the school with a locally hired family support liaison at no cost whose responsibility is to support the students and family, and address the withdrawal and truancy issue.

The school’s exact truancy rate was not available Tuesday, commissioners said.

The school also is struggling to get students tested, officials said. Only about 60 percent of students this fall took the NWEA test, which is supposed to be used to set a baseline for assessing student growth – a key factor in evaluating whether a charter school is successful and whether its contract with the state should be renewed.

Mills said that he thought the testing rate was related to the issues with the truancy and withdrawal rate, and that many of the families who are attracted to charter schools also dislike standardized testing and traditional education.

Commission chairwoman Reed said the commission intends to request more data from Maine Virtual Academy and continue site visits and meetings.

The school has kept a steady enrollment because it filled vacant positions with students on a waiting list, Mills said. That means its overall enrollment, used to calculate state payments, has not changed significantly and there is minimal impact on its budget.

While state funding for Maine students follow the student, there is no significant impact financially on MVA students’ traditional school districts if they return, because the state budgets payments based on an estimated enrollment for the school year, and then on actual headcounts of students Oct. 1.

A 2012 Maine Sunday Telegram investigation of K12 and Connections Education showed that Maine’s digital education policies were being shaped in ways that benefited the two companies, that the companies recruited board members in the state, and that their schools in other states had fared poorly in analyses of student achievement.

Both Maine Connections Academy and Maine Virtual Academy received approval to open only after significantly changing their business plans to require more direct management by the Maine-based boards, and decreasing the role and authority of K12 and Connections Education.

Also Tuesday, the commission said the state was withholding $441,000 earmarked for the commission, requiring it to tap into its surplus to make up for a higher-than-expected per-pupil cost.

The state had estimated paying $14 million overall to the charter schools, but the actual cost was $14.7 million. Kautz, the executive director, said the commission could afford the one-time cost while the state Department of Education works out whether the funds were considered a loan to be repaid by the state or a permanent one-time cost to the commission.

Kautz said the main reason for the higher-than-expected costs was that the charter schools enrolled more special education students, who have a higher per-pupil rate – about $8,000 more per student.

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Site Note: This is a very well written story written by an ex-Insight of Oregon teacher. The sad thing is, it’s not even an unusual story. Similar stories can be found written by ex-teachers from Colorado too.

15 Months in Virtual Charter Hell: A Teacher’s Tale

Guest post by Darcy Bedortha.

In late August, 2012, I took a job in a school that is part of the largest virtual charter school chain in the nation. While I had misgivings about the nature of the school, I thought perhaps if I were diligent, I could serve my students well.  In November 2013 I decided I could no longer continue as a teacher. This is my story.

Some Background on K12 Inc.

K12 Inc., the virtual-education company, was founded in 1999 by the one-time “junk bond king” Michael Milken and the hedge fund banker Ronald Packard. The company’s original board chairman was William J. Bennett, who had been the U.S. Secretary of Education under President Ronald Reagan. (Bennett resigned from his position with K12 Inc. in 2005 after sparking controversy by stating that the U.S. crime rate would go down if more African-American babies were aborted.)

As a private company founded by financiers, K12 Inc. is highly profit-driven. Though its stock price has apparently taken a hit recently, there is little doubt that K12 Inc. has been quite successful in bringing in revenue–even as regular public schools have faced dire financial straits. According to the Center for Media and Democracy’s PR Watch, Packard, who is the current CEO, earned $19 million in compensation from 2009-2013. In 2013 alone, as Chicago closed 50 of its public schools and Philadelphia closed 23 more, K12 Inc. brought in a whopping $730.8 million in taxpayer dollars from its managed public schools, and its top executives saw their compensation skyrocket by 96 percent.

My Life as a Virtual Teacher

I became a teacher because I am an advocate for youth and social justice. However, this purpose was hard to fulfill working in a K12 Inc. school. With the kind of technology, systems and process management needed to keep the enrollment machine running (and the machine is priority), there is never much time to actually teach. In my former school, each class met for 30 minutes in an interactive-blackboard setting one day each week. Fewer than 10 percent of students actually attended these “classes.” Other than that time and any one-on-one sessions a teacher and student might set up (which, in my experience, almost never happened), there is no room for direct instruction.

Given the extensive needs of the students, this set up does not serve them well. Most of my contact with students was by email, through which I answered questions about everything from login issues and technology glitches to clarifying of assignments, and even that communication was only accessed by a very small percentage of students.

In addition, because students continuously enroll, no one was on the same assignment at the same time. I taught high school English. In a given day in mid-November I would grade introductory assignments, diagnostic essays and end-of-semester projects, and everything in between, for each course (this month I had 30 separate courses). I found it to be impossible to meet the learning needs of my students in that situation.

For most of last year I was Lead Teacher at the school, which required me to attend national staff meetings each week. At first the marketing focus of the conversations turned my stomach, and then it made me furious. In my experience, the conversation was never about how our students were struggling, how we could support those who were trying to learn the English Language, how we could support those who were homeless or how we could support those with special needs. It was never about how we could support our teachers. It seemed to me like the focus was often about enrollment, about data, about numbers of students who had not taken the proper number of tests, about ranking schools and ranking teachers. And there was marketing: how to get more children enrolled, how to reach more families, how to be sure they were pre-registered for next year, how to get Facebook pages and other marketing information “pushed out” to students.

The state-level staff meetings were not much better. Teachers were occasionally bullied and disrespected by the head administrator. Threatening teachers who had been unsuccessful at reaching students, he once yelled “I own your phone and I can see if you’re making calls!” (K12 Inc. does own the phones its teachers use, as well as the laptops and office equipment for teachers and students). During one meeting, in effort to force students to take yet another standardized test, it was suggested that we lock students out of their classes until they completed the tests. I urged them not to lock the curriculum. I had spent days each week trying to keep my seniors engaged and working in their classes, they were hanging on by their fingertips, and I knew that if pushed, they would simply give up.

Teachers who work for K12 Inc. are not well compensated for all their scrambling. At my former school, teachers are paid based on the number of students on their rosters. With 225 students they are still part-time (at .75 FTE), for which the pay is $31,500 a year. With 226 students they become full time employees, and will then be paid $42,000. Some full-time teachers now carry loads of well over 300 students. Even considering other expenses (but noting that these schools have no building or transportation costs), it is clear to me that K12 is generating considerable profits from the student/teacher ratio and compensation scheme.

My first month of teaching exhausted me, and there was never a moment in 15 months to catch my breath (many of us taught summer school, with no extra compensation, per employment agreement). Teachers are responsible for setting up courses, due dates, course pathways, etc. in connection to an extensive and ever-changing digital curriculum which is fraught with technical glitches and system-level errors. Teachers are also required to be available to students during the day, late into the evening and on weekends. In addition, they must contribute to “special projects”.

Courses and students are added daily, so there is continuous juggling, all happening during the first month of school (and beyond) while students (and teachers) are trying to learn how the system works. Granted, the first months of school are difficult for any school, but teachers at my school were putting in 40, 50, and 60 hour weeks in September 2012 while being paid only for the students on their roster, which for me hovered around 100 by the end of the first month. I think my first two-week paycheck, given the 75 students on my roster in the beginning, was about $300. Students are enrolled and drop out daily throughout the year (enrollment pauses only in December and May-June) so numbers change constantly and part-time teachers are never sure of their income.

Serving Disadvantaged Students Poorly

I believe K12 Inc. targets poor communities and economically struggling regions; they are easily influenced because they are desperately seeking alternatives to devastatingly under-funded schools. These financially strapped schools are being further bled by the exodus of students who are lured by what I now see are empty promises of marketing experts at K12 Inc. It is a vicious cycle in which, as far as I can see, no one but the corporate profiteers are winning, and that is no wonder to me: K12 Inc. has worked closely with the American Legislative Exchange Council, which has lobbied extensively for draft legislation to expand virtual education in 39 states or territories, potentially further crippling the financial status of public schools whose funds they siphon.

Luis Huerta of NEPC and Teachers College, Columbia University cites K12 Inc.’s explicit strategy  of targeting the least-supported population of students. He states that the corporation has an established practice of going after students who are “at risk” because of their tendency to not engage in school or expect much, if anything, from their educational experience, thereby creating a greater profit margin for K12 Inc. If a student is not active in school or demanding a quality education, he or she does not take as much of a teacher’s time; fewer questions are asked, less work needs reviewing and less interaction is required. By targeting these students for enrollment, K12 Inc. is able to push a higher student to teacher ratio: fewer teachers equals less expense, more students equals more income, fewer expenses in conjunction with greater income equals greater profits. This is a core issue with for-profit education management organizations.

The majority of students at the school are the kinds of kids whose histories and current realities cause concerned adults to keep eyes open for signs of trauma, those that haunt the dreams of educators and social workers. My students were survivors – of suicide attempts, of bullying, of abuse, of neglect, of the attempted suicides of siblings or best-friends or boyfriends. Some of them battle addictions and destructive habits; some self-harm, isolate themselves, or even run away.

I was an English teacher, so my students would write. They wrote of pain and fear and of not fitting in. They were the kinds of young people who desperately needed to have the protective circle of a community watching over them. They needed one healthy person to smile at them and recognize them by name every day, to say “I’m glad you’re here!”  Many of my former students do not have that.

The last thing these young people needed, I came to realize during my time with K12 Inc., was to be isolated in front of a computer screen.  A week or two or three would often go by without my getting a word from a student. They didn’t answer their email, they didn’t answer their phones. Often their phones were disconnected. Their families were disconnected. My students also moved a lot. During my first year at the school I spent days on the phone trying to track students down. This year I struggled to not simply give up under the weight of it all.

In the fall of 2013, 42 percent of our high school students were deemed “economically disadvantaged.” I had a number of students who were not native English speakers. I cannot wrap my head around how to serve a student who is unable to read or comprehend the language that the virtual curriculum is written in, let alone learn the technology (when it is functioning) without sitting beside them in the same space. Many of my non-native speakers had parents who did not speak English at all. These students often struggled for a very short time, and then I never saw their work again. They dropped out, moved on.

The majority of the students at the school were lacking credits needed for graduation. Most of them could not afford another failure, not in terms of credits and not in terms of emotional well-being, yet, as I wrote this in early December, nearly 80 percent of our students were failing their classes.  At that time there were 303 students (12 percent of the school) enrolled in special education programs – and 259 of them were failing while 17 had no grade at all. Eighty-two percent of the 9th graders were failing. This kind of failure is in no way limited to this school; it is system-wide, reigning throughout the virtual-school world, explicitly true for K12, Inc. and its national network of online schools.

According to a July 2012 report published by the NEPC, a nonprofit research organization that is skeptical of privatization initiatives in public education, only 27.7 percent of K12, Inc. schools met the Annual Yearly Progress goals, as compared to 52 percent of brick and mortar public schools (Miron & Urschel, 2012). Similarly, the same study calls attention to the fact that only 37.6 percent of students at full-time virtual schools graduate on time, as compared to the national average of 79.4 percent for all public high school students. A substantial number of my students transferred in from other virtual schools, such as Connections Academy. These students were markedly transient, and did not find success with K12 Inc. either.

In addition, CEO Ronald Packard was named in a 2012 class action complaint citing his alleged false statements regarding student performance and K12, Inc.’s “aggressive tactics” to recruit and enroll students in effort to cover up the 40-60 percent turnover rate (the parties reached a tentative $6.75 million settlement agreement in March 2013).

I can’t say I’m surprised by any of this. Earlier last fall, due to the sudden need for a colleague to take leave I was handed his student load on top of my own. For a month I had 476 students on my rosters, in 30 different classes. In my classes, my students were writing narratives, argumentative and research papers and poetry – all of which I was committed to reading. I had students who struggled to find their way through the course pages to the assignment they wish to work on, and in their frustration they often emailed for direction. I had students who were struggling to find their way through life. I began to write my story during the third week of November and at that point, I still had students beginning their first day, with the expectation to finish a semester’s work by January 24th.

Each of these situations and many others required individual attention. How does anyone offer anything close to personal attention for over three-hundred students, most of whom you never see? Practices such as excusing (eliminating) assignments were the norm at the school. K12 Inc. calls it a “proficiency model” but it amounts to an easy route to course completion. Even the students who were more or less on pace were not learning deeply; they were often merely filling out digital worksheets as quickly as they could. The most motivated of my students regularly finished more than a dozen assignments in a day.  What kind of depth of learning could that offer? That kind of workload for K12 teachers created fertile ground for practices like minimizing curriculum or sending essays to India to be graded.

Last year I had a student who never showed up to class, never turned work in, skimmed by on gaming the system with a phone call every few weeks, just enough to keep from being dropped from the rosters. She called me three days after my final grades were submitted in June, desperate to find a way to graduate. I apologized, said my grades had been submitted, and offered information for the summer school we were holding. A week or so later, when I arrived for graduation an administrator pulled me aside to tell me that this student had passed “by the proficiency method” and would be graduating. Our graduation rate was so low that this was not a surprise to me, not after the year I had spent working in this system. I was learning how things worked. Similar things have happened elsewhere. In Tennessee an email was discovered at a K12, Inc. school directing teachers to delete poor grades.

The July 2012 NEPC report concludes that virtual schools are not adequately meeting the educational needs of students. “Children who enroll in a K12 Inc. cyberschool, who receive full-time instruction in front of a computer instead of in a classroom with a live teacher and other students, are more likely to fall behind in reading and math,” the authors state “These children are also more likely to move between schools or leave school altogether – and the cyberschool is less likely to meet federal education standards.”

I became a teacher because I am an advocate for youth. My wish is to empower them to find their voices, to use them respectfully and effectively to work for justice in this world. I only scratched the surface of building relationships with my students last year. This year it was even more difficult.

As I reflect, I realize that the inability to dig into their realities and connect provided me a level of protection.

As I begin telling my story to a national audience, I face considerable dilemmas. How do I call out the corporations for the wrongful actions they are taking, for the massive deception being perpetrated and the money being siphoned from public schools without real people who are trying to do good work being hit by the fallout? How do I highlight the research that makes clear the failure of virtual schools without throwing talented teachers who are doing their best under the bus? Teachers I worked with are afraid to speak out, they are afraid to challenge or even question the administration or the system. I see the same fear dominant in the narrative across the country, in all walks of education. It is a justifiable fear; work is hard to come by, in part because of the very online programs I am rallying against. It is not hard to see that as I speak out, I might lose friends and I will jeopardize my own potential to be hired elsewhere as a public school teacher. It is a lonely place to stand, and a difficult decision to make.

I struggled with the decision to leave my students, and if I had better identified their individual challenges and truly gotten to know them it would have been doubly difficult. I continue to remind myself that I left to save my own health, that if my health had failed I would not be able to continue to advocate for youth. I would not be here for my own sons and I would not be able to hold my grandchild. The internal agony of compromised values and the endless dance of ethical dilemmas spinning through my sleepless nights finally got the better of me, and in facing a choice between financial crisis and health crisis, I gave my notice. I am unleashed, I am educated and I am fighting for the students I left behind. As an advocate I have chosen to walk my talk. I will speak for my students until they can fill my shoes, and I have faith that they will.

Darcy Bedortha, MS, MA

High School Teacher Student, Antioch University PhD in Leadership and Change

Oregon Team, Institute for Democratic Education in America

What do you think of Darcy Bedortha’s story? What should be done about virtual schools that operate in this fashion?

K12, Inc., backer of future NC virtual charter school, runs questionable operation in California

Study, former teacher recount troubling management practices and poor student outcomes

Former California Virtual Academy (CAVA) employee Jan Cox Golovich left her job as an online high school teacher a year ago, when she decided the students she was teaching were being cheated out of an education.

CAVA lets students fail. They let the kids go a whole year performing poorly in school and then fail. But CAVA has made their money,” said Golovich of the virtual school that is backed by K12, Inc., a Wall Street company that is in the business of making profits off of state education budgets by running online virtual charter schools across the nation – and soon, in North Carolina.

Golovich recounted troubling experiences working for CAVA that closely align with findings of a report released last week by a Washington, D.C.-based think tank.

That report, whose author analyzed publicly available data and interviewed teachers and staff at the K12 California virtual school, indicates that CAVA fails in many ways to adequately serve its students.

Poor oversight when it comes to ensuring accurate student attendance, dramatically lower test scores than their traditional public school counterparts and difficulty accessing technology were only some of problems the report found with CAVA and were echoed by Golovich, who was not involved in the compilation of the study.

“I resigned at the end of the year because CAVA’s practices were just deceitful and immoral. It just wasn’t working for the kids,” said Golovich.

Golovich’s story begins in the fall of 2012, when she began working for CAVA at their Sonoma-based online virtual charter school.

“I thought CAVA Sonoma had some really great teachers who worked very hard,” said Golovich of her decision to join California’s largest provider of online virtual education. The K12, Inc.-operated school system operates eleven locations in California, enrolling more than 14,500 students in grades kindergarten through 12th grade who log onto an online educational platform to receive educational instruction.

Golovich, who worked for ten years in the traditional public school system for the Vallejo Unified School District north of San Francisco, was immediately put off by how CAVA administrators pressured teachers to take student attendance.

Administrators required teachers to submit reports once a month verifying students’ daily attendance on the online education platform managed by K12, Inc., said Golovich. Those reports were then turned over to the California Department of Education to receive per pupil state funding. CAVA schools receive nearly $100 million in public education funds from the state, according to California Department of Education data.

“But we weren’t really able to tell how long students were actually logged into the system,” said Golovich. Parents that served as students’ learning coaches simply logged attendance for their kids, and she was forced to simply trust their word that students were online and engaged for the amount of time necessary to succeed in their coursework.

But students’ performance in Golovich’s classes was poor.

“The students were not doing well in my classes, and I was really concerned,” said Golovich. When teachers were gathered at a training offered by K12, Inc. administrators one day, some asked how to see in the online system just how long students were logging in and working.

“One of the tech guys at K12 told us how to see it [how long students were logged in] – and we realized that kids were only logging on for maybe five minutes a day, and yet we were signing off on these attendance reports,” said Golovich.

Now that teachers were aware of just how long – or short – students were working on their classwork, CAVA administrators pressured teachers to begin checking in with parents in order to assess how long students were engaging in offline work, said Golovich.

But that request would entail large amounts of work chasing down every parent on a weekly basis – and Golovich had hundreds of students – so she simply began to keep more accurate attendance on the basis of how long students were logged in.

“My attendance rates went down between 25 and 30 percent,” said Golovich. Other teachers, she said, were afraid to keep honest records because of fear of what CAVA administrators might do. “But I just couldn’t risk my teaching credential by effectively lying,” she said.

The whole debacle led Golovich to resign.

Golovich’s experience with California Virtual Academies didn’t come as a surprise to Shar Habibi, a research and policy director with the Washington, D.C.-based think tank In the Public Interest.

Habibi authored a report, released last week that looked at the management practices and student academic performance at K12, Inc.’s CAVA schools finding that the online virtual school’s students suffer from a poorly resourced academic environment that allows many to fall through the cracks entirely.

“In every year since it began graduating students, except 2013, CAVA has had more dropouts than graduates,” according to data analyzed in the report that is publicly available through the California Department of Education.

During the past four years, CAVA has graduated on average only 38 percent of its students. The graduation rate for California’s traditional public schools during the same time period was 78 percent, according to the study that cited public data.

CAVA students’ performance on standardized tests was also significantly lower than at their traditional public school counter parts. California uses a metric called the Academic Performance Indicator (API) to compare and rank schools’ academic performance, and in 2013, 73 percent of California’s schools fared better than CAVA schools.

CAVA’s head of school, Katrina Abston, responded to the report’s findings in a press release last week.

“The report relies primarily on misinformation from the California Teachers Association (CTA)—the union currently engaged in a coordinated and well-funded distortion campaign to unionize the eleven independent California Virtual Academies charter schools,” said Abston.

Habibi, the report’s author, acknowledged in a phone call with N.C. Policy Watch that In the Public Interest receives some funding from unions – but none from the California Teachers Association or its parent union, the National Education Association. And no one from CTA was involved during the compilation of the study.

“All of the data that we used for this study was public information,” said Habibi, who insisted that researchers were careful about sources and methodology and mostly analyzed publicly available data and interviewed teachers previously or currently employed by CAVA.

Calls and emails to K12, Inc.’s headquarters for this story went unanswered, with the exception of an email from one representative pointing to CAVA’s official response.

In addition to the student attendance fiasco, former CAVA teacher Golovich was also dismayed by her students’ performance on coursework and tests, and her students’ experiences match what was found by the report’s authors.

“My students’ test scores were just so low, it was unacceptable,” said Golovich.

She had a mix of students – some were high achievers who were participating in ambitious sporting programs and needed to be able to complete high school online so they could be successful in their endeavors outside of the classroom. But those students were in the minority.

“Most were students who were failing in brick and mortar schools, and so their parents put them in online schools hoping that will save them. But that actually makes things worse – when you’re home by yourself, it is just not going to work, being home alone and trying to catch up,” said Golovich.

When students performed poorly, CAVA was not quick to take action and withdraw students in an effort to find them a better education alternative, according to multiple teachers who spoke with In the Public Interest.

“At an in person staff meeting at the beginning of February, we were told that for a student working just a little bit, there would be no withdrawal, that it is not in the student’s best interest. But the student loses a semester of credit while CAVA collects ADA [state per pupil funding]. I do not know of a student who has been withdrawn,” said Cara Bryant, a veteran teacher at CAVA Sonoma.

Why are students’ experiences at K12, Inc.-backed California Virtual Academies important to North Carolinians?

Last month, North Carolina’s State Board of Education green lighted K12, Inc. to set up shop in the Tar Heel state after years of trying to open a virtual charter school in the state. The school, called “N.C. Virtual Academy,” will be one of two virtual charters (the other backed by education behemoth Pearson) to participate in a four-year pilot program enacted by lawmakers last year.

Combined, the two virtual schools could receive up to $66 million a year in taxpayer funds by 2017, if enrollment reaches a combined 6,000 students by then, according to the Associated Press.

As state board members considered K12, Inc.’s pitch to operate in NC, several did express concern about K12’s business practices – often negatively portrayed in the media – and their students’ poor academic outcomes. But the board felt it had little choice but to approve the two virtual charter school applicants – the only applicants – because the law required the pilot to being this fall.

Elsewhere around the country, K12, Inc.’s other virtual schools have experienced the following:

Poor academic outcomes. In every state where K12, Inc. operated virtual schools and public information was readily available (AZ, CO, GA, NV, OH, PA, SC, TX, WA), virtual students’ math and reading standardized test scores were significantly behind the state average, according to the report.

Low graduation rates. In the chart below, found in the report, k12, Inc.-operated virtual schools’ graduation rates were as much as 50 percentage points below the state average.

High student turnover. Also known as “churn,” twenty-three of K12’s students drop out within the first year, and 67 percent leave within two years.

The Tennessee education commissioner recently called for their K12, Inc.-backed virtual charter school to be shut down for extremely low academic performance.

And the NCAA recently announced it will no longer accept coursework in its initial eligibility certification process from 24 virtual schools that are affiliated with K12, Inc. – including all eleven CAVA schools.

In spite of a wealth of information that points to K12, Inc. running a business operation that has poor returns by failing to adequately educate students, yet continues to profit mightily from state taxpayers, some are still enthusiastic about the prospect of the virtual charter school coming to North Carolina, including Rep. Larry Pittman, a supporter of virtual charters.

“We need to do something different,” said Pittman after an education committee meeting Tuesday. “Just because some states had a bad experience doesn’t mean that will happen here, and we have to put some trust into the hands of parents who will do the right thing for their child.”

Former CAVA teacher Jan Cox Golovich sees things differently.

“The taxpayers are getting cheated and our kids are getting cheated by this model.”

Education reporter Lindsay Wagner can be reached at 919-861-1460 or lindsay@ncpolicywatch.com.

Twitter: @LindsayWagnerNC

Three Families Sue to Keep Tennessee Virtual Academy Open

Three families of children with disabilities sued to prevent the state from closing down the Tennessee Virtual Academy.TVA is one of the lowest performing schools in the state. The virtual charter school is operated by K12 Inc. the for-profit corporation founded by Michael and Lloyd Milken and listed on the New York Stock Exchange.Under state law Tennessees education commissioner has the authority to close the school if it ranks among the worst performers for three consecutive years. The school has consistently been ranked 1 on a 5-point scale with 1 being the worst and 5 the best since it opened in 2011. Critics have called it a failure and said the for-profit corporation that provides the curriculum is more interested in making money than educating children.It would be interesting to learn who is paying the legal fees for these families. via Diane Ravitch’s blog http://ift.tt/1DN0sIu

Virtual charter school network making profit at the expense of California schoolchildren, study finds

By Katy Murphy and Jessica Calefati

Staff writers

Posted: 02/27/2015 06:15:44 AM PST21 Comments Updated: 4 days ago

California schoolchildren studying at home through a growing network of for-profit online charter schools often lack functional computers and other materials they need to learn – even as millions in state tax dollars flow to the schools' operator, according to a report released Thursday.

California Virtual Academy's high schools graduated just 36 percent of their students from 2011 to 2013 and had more dropouts than graduates, the report found.

“This is not what virtual education in California should look like,” concludes the report by In the Public Interest, a Washington, D.C.-based research group that focuses on contracting and privatization.

The troubling findings about the network's academic performance, resources and finances suggest that the company managing the 11 California schools – Virginia-based K12 and its California subsidiary, K12 California – is rewarding shareholders and executives at the expense of the 14,500 children enrolled in them from kindergarten through grade 12.

“There's an increased feeling that corners are being cut so that profits can be maximized,” said Cara Bryant, who has taught for nine years at a Davis school operated by K12.

One of the largest virtual charter-school companies in the nation, K12 manages – and sells technology and other services to – online schools in dozens of states. One of the 11 California Virtual Academies is based in San Mateo County, which is permitted to enroll students from the adjacent counties of Santa Cruz, Santa Clara, San Francisco and Alameda.

In the Public Interest did not contact K12 or K12 California before releasing the report, which the head of school at California Virtual Academies, Katrina Abston, called “inaccurate and deeply flawed.”

In a statement, Abston accused the organization of having a bias against publicly funded, privately run charter schools and getting much its information from the California Teachers Association. (The report's 16-page appendix lists numerous sources for its data, including the California Department of Education, news stories and interviews.)

“Our schools provide families a public school option for children who need alternatives to traditional public school,” Abston said. “Efforts by powerful special interests opposed to charter schools and parent choice will not deter us from that commitment.”

The report highlights a complicated relationship between the taxpayer-funded schools and their for-profit operators that allows for self-dealing and conflicts of interest.

Through its California subsidiary, the company not only manages the schools and control their bank accounts but also serves as its main vendor; contracts reviewed by researchers forbid the schools from seeking competitive bids from other companies, the report found.

In exchange for management, technology and administrative services, K12 received $47 million from the California schools – nearly half of K12's total revenue – during the 2012-13 school year, the report found.

How much of those dollars were spent on services for California schools and how much paid for profits, advertising and executive pay remains a mystery, said Shahrzad Habibi, the lead author.

K12's top executive in 2011-12 received nearly $4 million in pay and bonuses, while teachers in the California network averaged wages of about $36,000 – at least $20,000 less than the public school teachers in the area, a disparity that fueled teacher turnover, the report found.

Teachers interviewed in the report said that in the push to expand, the company aggressively recruited and enrolled students who weren't likely to succeed in an online-only setting. The report also suggested the network encouraged teachers to fudge student-attendance records, instructing teachers to mark students as present even if they had logged on to the system for a single minute or if a parent said they had been online.

In California, schools lose money when students don't show up.

The report found the schools generally receive inadequate oversight from the state and the school districts that have authorized them, and recommended better regulations, such as stricter rules and enforcement for reporting attendance.

California Department of Education officials were not immediately able to respond on Thursday.

At a news conference Thursday, parent Kathy Kline, of San Bernardino, said she was worried about the direction of her son's school. She said it issued her son a “dinosaur” computer that didn't work and then refused to issue him another one.

“It seems like each year, less resources are focused on students,” Kline said. “Being a virtual academy, it's very important to have working computers.”

Contact Jessica Calefati at 916-441-2101. Follow her at Twitter.com/calefati. Contact Katy Murphy at kmurphy@bayareanewsgroup.com. Follow her at Twitter.com/katymurphy.

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Exclusive: Apple to make many security guards full-time employees

By Julia Love

jmlove@mercurynews.com

Posted: Tue, 3 Mar 07:50:31 PST Updated: Tue, 3 Mar 07:50:09 PST

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CUPERTINO – Amid debate about Silicon Valley's sweeping use of contract workers, Apple will dramatically expand its in-house security team, giving the officers the same benefits as other employees.

After a yearlong review, Apple has decided to hire the majority of its day-to-day security staff in the valley as full-time Apple workers, a spokeswoman told this newspaper. The Cupertino-based company had previously used a contractor to fill the positions. Like other Apple employees, the security guards will be entitled to full health insurance, retirement contributions and leave for new parents, among other benefits.

FILE – In this Aug. 25, 2011 file photo, an Apple employee walks between Apple buildings at Apple headquarters in Cupertino, Calif. (Paul Sakuma/AP photo)

“We will be hiring a large number of full-time people to handle our day-to-day security needs,” the spokeswoman said. “We hope that virtually all of these positions will be filled by employees from our current security vendor and we're working closely with them on this process.”

Apple will soon begin hiring for the security team, inviting its current officers to apply for in-house positions. The company will still use contract security guards when it needs to expand its force temporarily for special events.

The move comes as advocates are calling upon Apple and other tech companies to extend their wealth to service workers who cook, clean and monitor security on tech campuses but see few of the industry's lavish perks. Apple's program echoes steps by Google, which announced in October that it would hire about 200 security guards, drawing praise from local union United Service Workers West.

United Service Workers West, a regional arm of the Service Employees International Union that is trying to organize security guards in the valley, had called on Apple to move away from its security contractor, staging a rally on the tech company's campus in December. The union claimed that Apple's contractor, Security Industry Specialists, had a poor record of treating workers and that many of the positions were part-time.

As Apple and Google add security guards to their payrolls, other service workers are banding together to demand better wages and benefits. Shuttle bus drivers for Apple, Yahoo, Genentech, eBay and Zynga voted on Friday to join the Teamsters, following the lead of Facebook's drivers. Under a contract approved last month, Facebook drivers working full-time will receive about $33,000 more in wages and benefits than they received before, the Teamsters said.

Contact Julia Love at 408-920-5536 or follow her at Twitter.com/byJuliaLove

Virtual charter schools get go-ahead from NC education board | The Progressive Pulse

Virtual charter schools get go-ahead from NC education board

Thursday, February 5, 2015 InNews

http://thetruthaboutk12.com//wp-content/uploads/2015/09/As expected, the State Board of Education gave its blessing Thursday to two virtual charter schools applying for a new pilot program set up by the state legislature.

The new public schools will allow students to take their entire course loads remotely, and stand to send millions in public education dollars to two companies that will manage the daily operations of the virtual schools.

N.C. Policy Watch has been covering the push by K12, Inc., the company behind the N.C. Virtual Academy, since 2011 to open a virtual charter school in North Carolina. The company has been criticized in other states for its aggressive lobbying of public officials to open schools, as well as low academic results from many of the public schools it manages.

On Thursday, the state board also decided to drop a requirement that would have required schools to provide or pay for learning coaches for students whose parents can’t serve in that role.

Here’s more from my article earlier today:

Get ready to add “attend third-grade” to the growing list of things you can do over the Internet in North Carolina, after ordering pizzas and watching cat videos.

The State Board of Education, which oversees public education in the state, is expected to approve two charter schools today that will teach children from their home computers in schools run by Wall Street-traded companies.

Daily monitoring would be in the hands of “learning coaches,” a role that’s been filled by parents, guardians and athletic coaches in the more than 30 other states that offer publicly-funded virtual schooling options.

Today’s anticipated vote of approval (click here to listen to an audio stream of today’s meeting) will be a significant change of the state board, which fought an attempt in the courts from the N.C. Virtual Academy to open up a virtual school three years ago.

If approved, the N.C. Virtual Academy (to be run by K12, Inc., NYSE:LRN) and N.C. Connections Academy (to be run by Connections Academy, owned by education giant Pearson, NYSE:PSO) will be able to enroll up to 1,500 students each from across the state, and send millions in public education dollars to schools run by private education companies.

You can read the entire piece here.