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.


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.


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.”

 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.”



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


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?


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.


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.


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.


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… 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.”


Q2 2013 K12 Inc. Earnings Conference Call
Source: Fair Disclosure Wire
Ever wondered what happens behind closed doors when corporate executives meet to discuss how their company is doing on the world of education reform?

Beyond the media sound-bites and advertisements, what do they really care about?

Please join me in this blog in reviewing the K12 Inc Earnings Conference Call (Feb 5th, 2013).

I am providing only a summary snap shot of what transpired during that call.

The full transcription is available here.

First, a Short Bio. Who is K12 Inc?

Read Sourcewatch. “K12 Inc. was founded by former Goldman Sachs executive Ron Packard and former United States Secretary of Education and right-wing talk show host William Bennett in 1999. Packard was able to start K12 Inc. with $10 million from convicted junk-bond king Michael Milken and $30 million more from other Wall Street investors.”

Services they provide:

K12 Managed Public Schools, International and Private Pay Schools, materials and resources to traditional public schools (i.e. curriculum) via subscription leases. They call this the institutional segment: business products, software and service business selling into school districts nationwide.

 Who was present in this conference call?

Nate Davis, Executive Chairman; Ron Packard, Founder and Chief Executive Officer; Tim Murray, President and Chief Operating Officer; and Harry Hawks, Chief Financial Officer.


Some highlights from their call

  • It’s all about marketing and sales

Nate Davis: “We will continue to sell more products, whether inside the managed services contracts or as a stand-alone implementation, selling by course.”

Soon, even Pre-K children will also be sitting in front of screens.

Meet the new Google Babies.

According to Tim Murray K12 Inc is “piloting a Pre-K program …” He says “We also released a number of applications for mobile platforms with distribution through iTunes, Google Play and the Amazon app store, bringing us to 16 mobile apps in total with over 600,000 downloads to date.”

They also sell teacher preparation!

Tim adds that “Two specific areas of focus on are teacher training and compliance” To that end K12 Inc provides its “own version of certifying teachers in accordance with iNACOL’s standards for quality online teaching.”

Nate Davis says SELL!!! (0ver and over again): “There’s a significant amount of revenue that comes from selling products … we sell our service of managing the school; we also sell the products to the school, the curriculum … remediation tools allow us to sell more products. So some of our product sales will not just be coming from the Institutional line of business, it will also be coming from within the Managed Schools area.”

Not to mention those untapped little pre schoolers! Davis adds, “We think there’s an opportunity there to sell more products in that category as well. Again, that’s brand-new. It has not officially been launched.”

And don’t forget those kids with special needs or learning difficulties/disabilities. They are the cash cow. Nate Davis says, “They may go off-line into a specialized remediation program, and that’s a service that we can sell (as well).”

And math labs. Davis adds, “That’s another program we can take and pour back into the schools … It’s the course-specific, topic-specific, remediation-specific, that we can sell back into the same school that we are in. And that’s where I think the opportunity is.”

Tim Murray: “(New) technologies … allow our customers to self-service themselves as able, which in turn reduces our cost.

  • Individualized education is code for online education

Ron Packard: “(We will) lead the transformation to individualized learning and educational liberty …. what K12 technology is about is driving an individualized education for every child … there’s going to be multiple programs within schools; there already are. But it could also be separate schools with different brand names as well.”

  • The “Experts”

Ron Packard: “We are excited about our new Chief Academic Officer, Margie Jorgensen, who comes to us with an extensive background in assessment and instructional practices … (and) K12 has formed an education advisory committee of outside experts.” (See Committee Composition here)

Dr. Jorgensen’s previous “expert” experience includes:

Founder and CEO of Measure2Learn; Managing director at Battelle for Kids, a non-profit enterprise focusing on several aspects of educational reform; Senior Vice President and before that Vice President, Product Development, Psychometrics and Research for Harcourt Assessment, Inc.; Assistant Vice President for Development, ACT, Inc.; (and) Senior Examiner for the Educational Testing Service.

Also see their Board of Directors

  • Show me the Money:

Tim Murray: “Total enrollments and semester course enrollments in our International and Private Pay Schools grew 10.9% and 1.5%, respectively … Revenue in Institutional sales grew 8.6%. When I look at our operational metrics for this team, I continue to see a growing pipeline, greater sales productivity than last year and a growing backlog.”

Harry Hawks: “Cash from operations for the six months year to date was a positive $32.1 million compared to the same period a year ago as negative $19.5 million and two years ago was $7.1 million … we know that net cash at 12/31 was $9 million higher than cash at 12/31 a year ago, notwithstanding our ongoing investments in curriculum, software and infrastructure.

Ron Packard: “We believe virtual schools are already a significant discount to what taxpayers pay for education and delivering a great value.”

Are we talking about used cars or children????

Nate Davis: “Institutional Business, the business of selling stand-alone products to schools is a higher-margin product … improving the sales of the Institutional Business, because that’s a very profitable products business for us.”

Not all services and products are equal. K12 is looking for “a shift in some cases toward higher-priced products that we are selling as opposed to lower-priced products” according to Tim Murray.

  • The Result?

Trace Urdan: “You guys are making disproportionate profits.”

  • How can they get away with this?

Nate Davis: “We start by looking at what we think the market opportunity is

Tim Murray “We have significant traction in reengineering policies and processes, creating a identified enterprise systems architecture and focusing on our unit cost improvements in our business.”


Tommy: Now you can’t hear me,
your ears are truly sealed.
You can’t speak either,
your mouth is filled.
You can’t see nothing,
and pinball completes the scene.
Here comes Uncle Ernie to guide you to
Your very own machine.