This is a RE POSTING of a blog I wrote four years ago during Teacher Appreciation Week.

Seems appropriate to re-post it now. Please comment on the question: How much has changed or not in last four years?

ORIGINAL:

I felt an urgency to write this post before Friday in order to coincide with Teacher Appreciation Week because this quasi “event of recognition” must remain close on our radar well past this Friday.  Never mind that this gesture is being erased by the first annual…gag…National Charter School week … gag again.

On Monday Mark Naison shared a post that reads:

“Having Teacher Appreciation Week in the United States of America, at this historic moment, is like having Deer Appreciation Week during hunting season.”

After reading this I laughed out loud for a while, and then quietly chuckled to myself for days after that. Why? Because what is happening to public education and to public teachers is so not funny that sometimes I have to laugh to stave the tears and massive waves of despair. And although the deer population may not be considerably reduced during hunting season (no offense to my animal rights activists friends intended), I worry that teachers, real live teachers, are becoming an endangered species.

If you haven’t already shown your appreciation somehow for the public teachers in your life, past or present, do it now. Why? Because chances are, sooner than any of us anticipate, we won’t be sending our flowers, cards, candy, or well-wishes to teachers anymore.  We will have to send them directly to education profiteers like Pearson, Carpe Diem Schools, Connections Academy, and Bill Gates, all of whom are advocating to replace public school teachers with online learning and other in-school online technologies.

Just this week I smiled as my son walked gleefully through his school, passing out homemade muffins to his teachers  for teacher Appreciation. Soon he’ll have to be screaming “thank you” to a computer screen.

The lobbying power behind this movement is astounding because so are the profits to be made. Profitable for corporations, not children of course.  Michelle Rhee through her (Rosemary’s) baby StudentsFirst,  “pledged to spend more than $1 billionto bring for-profit schools, including virtual education, to the entire country by electing reform-friendly candidates and hiring top-notch state lobbyists.”

And pretty soon every child in Philadelphia can sit in front of a computer and succumb to online “learning” since their community schools have been shut down. Why is this? According to City Paper:

The pro-voucher funding stream appears unstoppable, with sources like the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, the Eli and Edythe Broad Foundation and the Walton Family Foundation. So it goes: The same political forces that have bled Philly schools for decades now decry their poor performance. The solution, of course, is the private sector.”

Conveniently, the billion-dollar-online-learning companies are touting rhetoric that “all children deserve a great teacher.” Duh. How much did they spend to find that out? However, they claim is that in order to deliver on this proclamation, we need to infuse technologies such as online charter schools, and billions of dollars of technology to public schools to make it happen. They claim that we must free up the “best” teachers by using technology more. Convenient. According to theWashington Post, Gates recommends:

“Lift(ing) caps on class sizes and get(ting) more students in front of the very best teachers. Those teachers would get paid more with the savings generated from having fewer personnel overall.”

Those of us who have been in education for more than a few decades already know how to maximize the strengths of “great teachers!” It’s called: resources, reduced class size, having more teaching assistants per classroom, and NOT demanding endless batteries of high stakes testing, test preparation, and data keeping of those tests all of which wastemeaningful instructional time.

Duh. But … there’s no profit in those solutions.

No.  What Gates and company recommend (in their infinite pedagogical experience and scholarly wisdom on child development) is to:

“Eliminate or reduce “seat time” requirements for students to be with licensed staff, focusing on student outcomes (read: tests) instead. This will allow, for example, unlicensed staff to monitor digital labs, freeing funds to pay more—within budget—to the excellent teachers in charge.”

They call this “seizing opportunity.” Seizing opportunity indeed.

Speaking of seizing opportunity, let’s look at Carpe Diem (or “seize the day”),  a “blended learning” model school spreading like a bad case of herpes across the country, and Indiana in particular. As Peg Robertson  writes:

“Six Carpe Diem schools are indeed headed to Indiana. ALEC loves them. See chapter five of their latest report card.  Six schools will soon arrive, focused on ALEC’s love of technology and lack of teachers. This isn’t innovation – this is mind-numbing education delivered via computer with a few teachers (4) left to fill in the regimented gaps.”

How do these new online learning communities get so much political favoritism? Go ask ALEC.

Connections Academy is a national for-profit online learning corporation, and whose co-founder and executive VP is Mickey Revenaugh, who is also the co-chair of the ALEC Education Task Force.

It’s no coincidence that Pearson acquired Connections (Academy) Education, establishing a leading position in the fast-growing virtual school segment and the opportunity to apply Connections Education’s skills and technologies in new segments and geographic markets. 

And even if your community has not yet been sucked into the vacuum of a corporate charter model, even if you still walk your child everyday to a public school, your Teacher Appreciation tokens might as well go straight to Pearson. Why? Because Pearson has also acquired partnerships with companies to deliver PARCC, SAT testing, GED testing, and was the central player (through Achieve) in the design of the National Common Core Standards. Pearson can now micromanage the Common Core, as well as all teacher-related materials needed to teach the Common Core, and all required testing materials to test the Common Core.  And more of Common Core will be going online, via courtesy of Pearson. Convenient.

Need I go on? The teacher has become an inconvenient and costly middleman who needs to be removed from the equation, because they get in the way of corporate profit.

More and more classes, k through 12, are being held online in schools across America. And the numbers of online delivery are increasing. From an article by Trip Gabriel, I offer a few highlights:

* “More than one million in the United States, by one estimate are taking online courses. Nationwide, an estimated 1.03 million students at the K-12 level took an online course in 2007-8, up 47 percent from two years earlier.”

* “In Memphis, where 7,000 high school students were assigned to study online in computer labs this year because there were not enough teachers to comply with state class-size caps, every student must take an online course to graduate, beginning with current sophomores.”

* “In Idaho, the state superintendent of education plans to push a requirement that high school students take four or more online courses, following a bill that passed the Legislature last week to provide every student with a laptop, paid for from a state fund for educators’ salaries.”

But this last statement really drives the issue home for me:

“K-12 online learning is championed by conservative-leaning policy groups that favor broadening school choice, including Jeb Bushs’ Foundation for Excellence in Education which has called on states to provide all students with “Internet access devices” and remove bans on for-profit virtual schools.”

So I want to take a moment to thank the teachers in my life who have influenced me.  And none of them worked for a textbook company or were presented to me via a computer portal.

Mrs. Belafatto from 5th grade. Thank you for inspiring my creative writing. I remember the great free-writing time we had, and the smiley face feedback that encouraged me to write. I do what I do today in large part because of you.

Mr Dever from 4th grade. Thank you for allowing us as a class to build a real reading loft out of wood and nails in our classroom. We collaborated together, measured, problem-solved, and created. You remind me that teaching and learning are embodied and hands-on experiences that cannot be measured on a standardized test.

Mr. Barlow from 9th grade. Sure, you were categorically insane. Rumor had it you lived in your car. You made me cry at the blackboard. But you taught me to believe in myself, never to back down, and to face challenges head-on. I take my memory of you with me today into this battle for education.

Dr. Ball from my graduate school statistics class. Thank you for staying on the phone with me that Sunday afternoon during the football play offs, when you took over an hour of your time away from the game to walk me through the computer-based exam, while I sobbed hysterically in a panic. You taught me that the qualities that matter most in being a teacher are patience, empathy, and dedication. I don’t remember what was on that exam -but I remember what you did for me.

So, thank a teacher. Unless we appreciate them enough to fight for them, they will become an endangered species. And since no one with any real policy making power in education seems to be doing much about this, maybe we need to get the Wildlife Federation on the case. Anyone got their number?

Bail, not Blogs

Posted: April 24, 2016 in Uncategorized

I will be on hiatus for a while from blogging in order to care for immediate family needs.

Please enjoy previous blog posts in the meantime…Let’s face it, until there is a radical shift in systemic policy and power, anything I’ve written the last few years probably still applies…it might as well be “new” news.

I leave you with this thought for the immediate future: Bail, not blogs. Writing is a powerful tool. Sharing information is critical. But now, in 2016 we KNOW what’s wrong. We KNOW how to fix it. We KNOW what we want for ALL children. We need to think about actions. Civil disobedience. We need to get beyond blogging alone.

“Surrealism recognizes that any revolution must begin with thought, with how we imagine a New World, with how we reconstruct our social and individual relationships” (Kelley, p. 193). And that is the goal of the opt out revolution…at least the one United Opt Out is fighting for. The elimination of harmful high stakes tests is a major tactic, but not the end goal. True solidarity in this movement as an effort of social justice will be evidenced not when white middle class moms go to jail to protect their own children, but when they (we) go to jail to protect other people’s children too.

I’m saving your bail money. It might be time.

Today I was taking my weekly yoga class. The first thing the instructor asks us to do is set an intention for the day’s practice. My intention was to meditate on where we are at, and where we are going, in the opt out movement, with hopes of finding a way forward.

My instructor focused today’s practice in our feet, on focusing in on how we remain rooted and grounded (in our feet) in order to rise up and achieve higher purpose.

Like a yoga practice, the opt out movement, is exactly that….a movement, It is not a noun …it is an action, based on a basic idea rooted in the principals of socially just, equitable, creative, democratic PUBLIC schools for ALL children. That is our grounding, All our actions must rise from that. Any action that does not ground itself in that intention, or does not move us in that direction, is misspent energy (or a hijacked message).

I also thought about how important it is to trust ourselves. Opt Out, as Peggy Robertson is always saying, is a people’s movement. We do, as most movements, look toward leaders to push us forward, but really it is about us. It is about trusting ourselves to know when something just does not make sense. I am thinking of Stephen Singer’s latest piece on the history of the eugenics movement and the odd notion that civil rights groups would embrace this same testing as a tool for equity. Calling for testing as a tool for equity just seems wrong. It feels wrong. All data suggests this will end badly. It is a distraction from the real focus and the real fight.

So we must, everyone of us, remember to trust out gut, believe what our senses tell us, and use common sense. In this technocratically and technologically driven world of education policy parents and teachers get bombarded with seemingly complex messages about “21st century learning”, grit and tenacity, Student Learning Outcomes that are more complicated that a piece of IKEA furniture. We can lose sight. TRUST YOUR GUT. If: 1) having kids on computer screens for half the school day, 2) demanding we use biased, racist and classist standardized testing in the name of “equity”, or 3) wiping vomit off a test all just seem wrong…IT IS BECAUSE THEY ARE.

ESSA, from its beginning, just seemed wrong. it felt wrong. All the data showed it would end badly.

We do not need complicated formulas to tell us what is right for all children. We know who and what the problem is (corporate technocracy and greed erasing democracy and the public sphere). And we know what the possible solutions are (they’ve been lying around for decades: small class size, full programs, wrap around services, the arts and sports, experienced teachers, culturally rich curricula, etc etc). What we struggle with is HOW DO WE GET THERE? How do we make a movement?

First, we stay grounded. ROOT TO RISE.

Second, realize the ground is shifting beneath our feet. The opt out movement is now several years old (even decades if you recognize the early work of activists like Susan Ohanian and the opt out events of Scarsdale NY back in the 1990’s). In 2011 when United Opt Out first emerged on the scene, we believed it was enough to call for a mass refusal of standardized tests. If the mass call for opting out we are hearing in 2016 had been available in 2011, by now we might have been able to stave off the debacle of ESSA. But now, with ESSA firmly in place, refusal of standardized testing cannot be our only focus. Should parents still refuse the tests? Yes. Of course. But if we think that refusal of the annual standardized testing will alone be sufficient to “starve the beast” we would be wrong. We are refusing IT ALL.  We refuse their policies. We refuse their ideology. We refuse to sell our children to the highest bidder by any means they try.

Because the beast has changed shape. And even if everyone in America refused the end-of-year standardized tests such as PARCC or SBAC, the machinery of the corporate takeover (though dented maybe) remain intact. Because of ESSA, we have a new battle front, and the opt out movement must shift with it. Remember…we have to check our balance, our base, our foundation. Testing refusal is not, was never, the end goal. It’s one means to dismantling the corporate directive of education policy. But in 2016 we must move in other direction simultaneously: ESSA takes us in one of two directions. We must focus on many directions. Either ESSA heightens the grip that standardized testing has on states (see Mercedes Schneider who states, “ESSA tries to lock states into the same 95 percent testing requirement as NCLB.”).

Or, (even IF) it HST takes a “back” seat (reduced end-of-year testing) we are still trapped in a trajectory toward corporate privatization because now testing will be daily and ongoing via competency-based assessment.  It’s probably gonna result in a whole bunch of both. So let’s re-imagine our strategy. We need to tackle competency based instruction, a policy whose roots are grounded in the common core, and was likely the end game to begin with starting decades back. The evidence for that case I quite compelling and irrefutable.

Opting out is a movement. We have to MOVE. Our actions must shift and change with the policy landscape which has shifted beneath our feet with ESSA. Its promise of “reduced testing” was a Trojan Horse. And now the enemy is inside the gates. We can strike our “warrior pose” but remember the yoga rule: The warrior poses always lead with the big toe (the center of balance) and the big toe is the most central piece of the pose. If we are “off” about what we think is the goal or the direction of our movement is we will spend a lot of energy putting ourselves off balance. We can even be lead into distraction from other ways our opponent is planning to strike because our focus may be in the wrong place.

Our “big toe” is not merely testing refusal. Our “big toe”… the guiding focal point, is (as I said in the beginning of this post) socially just, equitable, creative, democratic PUBLIC schools for ALL children. All our actions must rise from that.

Root. And move. Others cannot do it for us. Rise up.

 

 

My 11 year old son has decided he wants to be a nature writer (Emerson eat your heart out :))

So here’s his first treatise. I told him I would publish it for him.

Please share your feedback and comments for him. Thanks!!

Is It Nature? Or Nothing?

by Conor McNulty

Could climate and mature be destroyed almost 1/5 of land fills are filled with wasted food that’s not all. The food we throw out could feed 36 million people each year.

landfill;2

Nature needs to be saved and our resources and the ice caps are melting away. Animals are going extinct.  Are people the problem? Or can people be the answer to this problem?

Is it nature? Or nothing?  

 

Read Scenario One and Scenario Two.

If you are unable to really tell the difference between these two scenarios, then perhaps we are closer to a frightening nightmarish future scenario than we realize. I manufactured one story out of my imagination. Ironically, I wrote it even before knowing anything about the real scenario provided to me by Alison MacDowell. I was nauseous at the realization that the story I manufactured actually eerily reflects a REAL policy that’s in the works. One is science fiction, the other story IS actually happening.

I left out ALL real hyper links….because, well, that would give it away! What’s important here is that my readers in fact will have to pause and think…because it IS so difficult to know what to believe anymore. What is happening to our children is in fact that unbelievable…and yet true.

When fact becomes stranger than fiction, it’s time for a deep pause…and serious action. Perhaps now, rather than later, we should be rising up and pushing back.

SCENARIO ONE

Chipping Students for Success

On the heels of Office Depot’s new initiative called “Committed to Learning” discussions are underway behind closed doors in the business community about the use of microchips to track students learning. The state-of-the-art technology would allow students to participate in ways we never imagined before. Which companies will be the first to make the move? Intel? IBM? Google? Microsoft? Industry insiders won’t say.

The chip would be surgically inserted during a brief outpatient procedure and can be removed at any time should the student decide to leave the program. “We know that a student’s grit and tenacity play a large part on their future success in the 21st century workplace.”

Because the recent update to federal education law (ESSA) requires states to include at least one nonacademic measure in judging school performance, the members of the technology communities are taking this opportunity to utilize microchip technology to meet the growing demands of both the business and education stakeholders. By measuring heart rate, body temperature and other metabolic features, proponents of the new schools will be able to overlap this to-the-moment data with the Grit Scale and predict student future success.

As Susan Patrick from the 2015 iNACOL symposium told her audience, the future of personalized technology creates a “student-learning system around vastly improved outcomes for preparing globally competitive students and citizens for the future.”

The other way the microchip technology is intended to be used in in collaboration with new community-based competency education opportunities. The chip enables corporate sponsors to track the students wherever they go. As school’s switch from crediting students based on “seat-time” in a course to crediting them for meeting proficiencies or competencies corporate sponsors say “It’s important that programs are accountable for the location and learning of each student in these community programs.”

SCENARIO TWO
 Pearson Takes Cues from the Pentagon

From stealth technology to GPS to vaccines, the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency — or DARPA — has developed some of the most consequential weapons and technology through the ages. The Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) Defense Sciences Office (DSO) seeks potential new DARPA programs to enable advances in new and revolutionary approaches to training, education and learning. The system architecture would be modular, extensible and scalable (open-source, open- architecture), and the content and tools would be created by a broad community of content providers. The system would learn optimum pedagogical approaches for teaching specific topics based on usage patterns and performance of large numbers of students. An important aspect of this program is the development and integration of tools to monitor cognitive or physiological response of users while learning.

Such tools may be used for periodic assessment of individual learning styles or might be used “in the background” to continuously determine if an individual is having trouble understanding a lesson, not paying attention or even bored. The system may monitor a variety of cues to determine the user’s attention and emotional states. Only sensor systems that are both low-cost and accessible on a mass-produced device would be considered. An ideal system would provide social- emotional/non-cognitive tools to build confidence in the student and improve overall resilience. Rather than using a singular strategy, the system would combine multiple media formats in combinations optimized for student preference and learning styles, including lectures, e-books, intelligent tutors, games, sequential art, and social networks.

Pearson believes in “creating a DARPA for education” that accelerates the most effective Artificial Intelligence learning. According to a Pearson document, “Imagine what we might see if we were to put the same effort into improving our schools, universities, and community colleges with properly researched and comprehensively evaluated AIEd.”

 

ON LINE…. ALL THE TIME?

Posted: March 15, 2016 in Uncategorized

How new legislation will result in corporate control of children…and no child will be left behind this time

By now many of us are familiar with the increasing encroachment of legislation devoted to the use of education technology (as software, delivery systems, and modes of assessment) in ever-widening circles designed to replace democratic public schools with privately owned for-profit corporations.

In earlier posts I examine how Common Core state standards were designed to lead us to this point: Competency based education delivered via computer-based programs, and brought to us via state and federal legislation crafted by ALEC.

The ALEC  bill states: “The Course Choice Program created by this Act would allow students in public schools and public charter schools to enroll in online, blended, and face-to-face courses not offered by the student’s school, and would allow a portion of that student’s funding to flow to the course provider. This Act creates an authorization process for providers and identifies provider and course eligibility criteria.”

Here’s the latest iteration of technological colonization, this time designed to ensure that all our children in Maryland (and nationwide) have a mainline to the corporations aiming to gather “Big Data.”

It’s called the Digital Equity for All Act

The MD state version of the bill can be viewed here.

Bill proposed By: Senators Rosapepe, Bates, Conway, Currie, Feldman, Ferguson, Guzzone, Kagan, Kelley, King, Lee, Madaleno, McFadden, Peters, Ramirez, Salling, Simonaire, and Zucker

Introduced and read first time: February 17, 2016

MDdigitaleqaulity

The two questions we should ask: who is this designed by and for, and …WHY?

And then ask yourself, what can we do to stop this?

WHO

This Maryland bill is based on a federal grant sponsored by Sens. Angus King (I-Maine) and Shelley Moore Capito (R-W.Va.). In keeping with the floodgates opened for a technological takeover of our schools by the recently approved ESSA, this legislation authorizes the U.S. Department of Education to give competitive grants to states and school districts to “develop, implement, and evaluate innovative strategies to increase out-of-school Internet access for eligible students,” according to the bill.

What else might you want to know about Senator King?

In 2002 he launched the Maine Learning Technology Initiative or MLTI to provide laptops for every public middle-school student in the state of Maine, a first of its kind in the nation. It met with considerable resistance due to costs but was enacted by the Maine Legislature. On September 5, 2002 the state began the program with a four-year $37.2-million contract with Apple Inc. to equip all seventh- and eighth-grade students and teachers in the state with laptops.

And Caputo? Well, she has interesting affiliations with ALEC and big oil.

iNACOL (of course) supports this bill. This “non-profit” organization serves the corporate masters and promotes bills which will increasingly dismantle our children’s private data and serves it up to giant global corporations who can manage our children’s futures.

iNACOL has direct connections with King and his agenda to promote this new bill as is seen in this webinar hosted by iNACOL in which the co-presenter is Aisha Woodward, Legislative Assistant to Senator Angus King.

Like most of the current reforms decimating our schools, this bill is not so new. It has finger prints traced back to 2009.

WHY

There is no data or evidence or study…NONE…NADA….that shows that an increased use of ipads, computers, smart phones or whatever improve or enhance the quality of learning experiences for children. Yet, legislators are willing to commit entire schools systems and a generation of children to this effort, day after day, year after year, for 12 plus years.

While the bill proposes that it reduce inequities, “especially for low-income students, by authorizing innovative broadband pilots to address the lack of high-speed Internet access outside of the classroom” ….in keeping with one of the hallmarks of education reform, the bill will in fact do the opposite of what it proposes.

How?

Predictive Analytics

According to Artforum, “the ultimate aim of dataveillance: prediction.”

Data mining and BIG data are forms of control (or information and opportunity) ownership by corporations by knowing everything about you. With CBE and Big Data, predictive analytics cannot only measure what you know but anticipate how you’ll BEHAVE.

Think about this—to be PERSONALIZED, the system MUST have ample personal data about you first and then use that data to anticipate your wants and needs and actions. Pariser (2011) suggests that the use of personalized filters hints of “autopropaganda, indoctrinating us with our own ideas, amplifying our desire for things that are familiar”, and that “knowing what kinds of appeals specific people respond to gives you the power to manipulate them on an individual basis” (p. 121).

It’s already used in policing with racist results. A real world Minority Report.

How is predictive analytics used in education really any different than EUGENICS of the 19th and 20th centuries that PREDICTED the intelligence of people using standardized tests and categorized intelligent by race and class? It’s not except that it uses technology to gather Big data.

With a personal device that follows children from home to school, used to cull their learning experiences and their behavioral responses to every decision they make, corporations can predict what students will need (to purchase) and manipulate their behavioral choices, and their future careers (predicting what jobs they might have) …  or who might go to prison. Remember the good ‘ol days when developers used the data of 3rd grade test scores to predict how many prisons they would need to build?

One site explains that, “The algorithms used by institutions invariably reflect and perpetuate current biases and prejudices…We suggest that the potential for bias and stereotyping in predictive analysis should be foregrounded in institutional attempts to categorize students’ risk profiles.”

We now have thanks to perpetual assessments of children’s knowledge affective gritor personality, what some call  “the concept of the ‘preemptive personality, the endlessly profiled and guided subject who is shunted into recalculated futures in a system that could be characterized as digital predestination.”

According to the “Promoting Grit, Tenacity and Perseverance: Critical Factors for Success in the 21st Century report there is “a growing movement to explore the potential of the ‘noncognitive’ factors—attributes, dispositions, social skills, attitudes, and intrapersonal resources, independent of intellectual ability..” Make sure to look at page 44 to understand exactly how your child’s “grit” will be measured. The goal is to “develop tools for affect recognition, interventions in response to student affect, and emotionally animated agents.”

Eugenics: 2016: “the new eugenics will make great use of the identification and prediction powers of dataveillance to cull the “invalids” from the herd, perhaps even before they exhibit any “invalid” traits.”

Predictive learning requires Big Data. And CBE is lauded as technology that helps anticipate (personalized) programming based on data supplied by the learner and predicts what they may be able to do next. Watch this eerie video put forward by a CEO from KNEWTON to understand exactly HOW MUCH private knowledge about your child’s learning and behavior these corporation plan to own and use to their advantage.

Having their devices with them 24-7, students can now be tracked incessantly by prograns such as iMotion which measures “how a learner’s emotions influence final learning outcomes (and) further supports iterative design decisions that can impact learner engagement.” Please click on their iMotion link to see how scary this could become.

Corporations (who constructed common core and CBE) not only want to sell our kids products, they want to control and predict their future behaviors a wards of their corporate surveillance. Manipulation and surveillance of the knowledge and behavior of people in the workforce (aka human capital)

 

During their 2014, 2015 and 2016 quarterly earnings conference calls (full transcripts available here) K12 Inc outlined the future of the company to its stakeholders. Spoiler alert: Your child is not one of them.

Who was present? COREY GREENDALE, ANALYST, FIRST ANALYSIS SECURITIES; Jeff Silber, BMO Capital Markets; HENRY CHIEN, ANALYST, BMO CAPITAL MARKETS; CHRIS GASSEN, ANALYST, FAIRCOURT VALUATION

In spite of insistence by CEO Nate Davis and others that K1 Inc is devoted to providing quality education via personalized (ahem….online) instruction that is not limited by a child’s zip code, ya’ might want to listen a little more closely. I did. Here’s what they have to say in their own words:

  • Rigging the numbers. Children can (are are) denied access to their program in order to control for their test scores, in order to maintain a false illusion of success. They target students that ensure their program succeeds. I wonder what would happen if real public schools did that? I’ll let Nate Davis tell you in his own words from the conference call in 2015: “We are aggressively leveraging data analytics to hone in our marketing efforts and we are investing toattract those students who are most likely to succeed in an online environmen This is a concerted effort on how we inform families about their online education options at K12 partner schools.” Why does this matter? Isn’t the goal to educate ALL children so they can succeed, rather than merely market to children who suit you? Not if you first obligation is to your stockholders. Again Nate Davis: “The results (or targeted marketing campaigns) will translate into the appropriate balance between enrollment levels and financial return for our investors.”

After all, “improved student persistence is obviously important to enrollments and revenues.

He doubled down on this message during the 2016 Conference call in which he details how they rigged enrollment in Tennessee to ensure their test scores remained high.

Davis: “The Education Commissioner reported that annual assessment scores for the 2013-2014 school year at Tennessee Virtual Academy, which we manage, in total the scores were low …The Commissioner stated that the Tennessee Virtual Academy students have shown improvement in years two and three, and that the challenges rested primarily with first-year students. The net result was that the Commissioner asked the Union County Public school, our partner, not to take new enrollments after the July 10, because it was the new students who were bringing down the school’s overall score.”

  • Children for profit. How can K12 Inc claim to offer a service parallel to (or dare replace) public schools, when their model is driven by profits over service. In other words, of you don’t have a numeric value attached to your head, K12 is not interested in you: “Student persistence, revenue per enrollment and, importantly, academic outcomes have all shown improvement and are increasing the lifetime value per customer.”

It’s not that they don’t ever take ANY underfunded children who cannot pay or have the school pay for them. It’s just that they don’t really WANT them.  James Rhyu says “We are just trying to focus more on those students where we will make sure that we do get funding for them” adding that (regarding the kids who don’t have cash in hand) “We don’t promote to them. But if they come to us, we still take them.”

Now that they’ve got a shiny new foundation (see below) they can donate the expenses back to themselves to pay for customers (I mean, students) who cannot afford it.

Awww, how noble of them. Public schools have been fucking doing that for decades.

  • They deny access to certain children due to potentially bad test performance and/or lack of funding. But they still rolled out a new foundation! They want to roll their way across every state and community laying waste to public education. In 2016 Davis reported “K12’s sponsorship in the launch of the foundation for blended and online learning.”

Why?  Because “The foundation will bring key stakeholders together to reinforce why digital learning and digital technology in our schools and even school choice is critical in delivering on great educations to students across the United States.”

Choice … unless you can’t pay or perform shitty on tests. What choices are left for the kids K12 won’t take?

The goal of the foundation is to provide post-secondary scholarships to students, to institute a grant program for individuals and organizations making progress in teaching in digital and blended learning, and to bring together key stakeholders on educational advancement through intentional collaboration.

Wait…..so they’ve created a foundation through which they funnel more money BACK TO THEMSELVES!? Blood brilliant.

Who is included?  Davis says “Look at that foundation board in our announcement. It includes prominent industry leaders and experts…”

Who are those “leaders and experts”?

Kevin Chavous (Chairman) – Founding Board Member and Executive Counsel for the American Federation for Children
Robyn Bagley – Founder and Principal, Early College High School
Kenneth Campbell – Founding Board Member for the Black Alliance for Educational Options
Allison Cleveland – Executive Vice President of School Management and Services, K12 Inc.
Mary Gifford – Senior Vice President of Academic Policy and External Relations, K12 Inc.
Linda Lopez – former Arizona State Senator
Dr. Rod Paige – former U.S. Secretary of Education
Caroline Vander Ark – COO of Getting Smart

  • So where are they going next? (coming soon to a theater near you). Nate Davis in 2015 said:

“Growth prospects also look good in some other states, including Virginia, New Jersey, and Connecticut.”

“A parallel program focuses on developing our schools’ administrators, principals, and instructional coaches.” “The K12 managed-school footprint is growing.”

This seems to be true both geographically in within the market itself.

We announced in Alabama last year, we expect to see more students in Alabama. We have got programs that we are working on in places like West Virginia and Nebraska, Missouri, Connecticut. None of these are firm programs approved yet, but these are all places where there are conversations going on, and there are expansions going on in places like New Mexico, Texas, Wisconsin, Nevada and Virginia. So there is a lot in the business development activity that we think over the next couple of years we should benefit from as well.

K12 Inc is primed to expand its markets in new arenas too: “The adoption rate at which school districts nationwide are integrating online components into the classroom is escalating. FuelEd is a great alternative for school districts that want online options to range from a single remedial course to a full-time online school. This business leverages all of K12’s curricula to offer the largest digital catalog that is aligned with national and state standards in the industryCommon Core has come home to roost.

“This year, both Chicago and Philadelphia public school districts designated FuelEd as a preapproved curriculum provider.

  • How can they do this? Nate Davis: “We anticipate our ongoing effort with legislators and independent school boards will further expand the number of schools we support in current and new states.”

2015 was a great year for K12 Inc!  “We ended the year with almost $200 million in cash. We are in a strong position to capture both strategic opportunities, as well as inorganic growth.”

Tim Murray (President and COO) seconds that motion: “Our goal is to grow faster than the industry, so to take share in this market. As we look at our current pipeline, our pipeline is up well over where we were at this time last year, especially for new customer opportunity, so we are very, very comfortable about how the market is developing here and our position in it.”

Of course it is! Nate Davis: “We delivered solid double-digit gains in our international and private-pay schools, as well as our institutional software and services. We posted strong double-digit revenue growth in the nonmanaged public school programs”

In summary: “We are well positioned to benefit in this digital education explosion.”

Amen.