7 Scary Facts about Corporate Homeschooling

Homeschooling curriculum seems like a benign topic. Children need to learn and it can certainly help parents to have an organized accessible curriculum. In recent years, however, the curriculum corporations have taken some interesting, and frightening, turns.  Driven by a clever plan to slip government money into the hands of business men, the corporations have made their virtual academies irresistible. They present the curriculum, toss every bit of the Common Core at your child, and they appear to be free.

Yet, they are not without a price. Here are Seven Facts that you should know about corporate homeschools:

    1. The curriculum companies are huge, publically traded companies. These companies “Sell” their curriculum to state and local governments, who run the virtual schools. K12 Inc. enrolls more public school students than any other private education management organization in the U.S., and is the biggest winner as full time virtual charter schools gain popular acceptance.  It enrolled more than 65,000 students in various “schools.” Other companies include:

      Companies

      Enrollment exceeds

      K12

      65,000

      National Heritage Academy

      42,000

      Imagine Schools

      38,000

      Edison Learning

      28,000

      (Source: http://nepc.colorado.edu/publication/understanding-improving-virtual)

    2. They are academic failures. The National Education Policy Center did a thorough review of 311 fulltime virtual schools enrolling an estimated 200,000 students. They found that, on the common metrics of Adequate Yearly Progress (AYP), state performance rankings, and graduation rates, fulltime virtual schools lag significantly behind traditional brick and mortar schools. In particular, they found that only 29.7% of students in 2011-2012 made adequate yearly progress. Seventy-nine percent of the students were ranked by the state’s standards as academically unacceptable . This is what the NY Times reported about Agora Cyber School, which is run by K12: “By almost every educational measure, the Agora Cyber Charter School is failing.”  The story continues, “Nearly 60 percent of its students are behind grade level in math. Nearly 50 percent trail in reading. A third do not graduate on time. And hundreds of children, from kindergartners to seniors, withdraw within months after they enroll.”
    3.  

    4. They are Wall Street successes. The Virtual Schools get the students allotment of tax money, even though they do not provide a playground, building, nurse, library or adequate teacher support.  There is a lot of money at stake. K12, and other curriculum companies, charge each school for the curriculum. According to the K12 site, “Revenues for the fiscal year ended June 30, 2013 grew 19.7% to $848.2 million.”

The Electronic Classroom of Tomorrow (ECOT) which, incidentally is supported by the  Bush Family, has performed reliably on one front: it brings in cash. Neil, the other Bush brother, founded an educational software company called Ignite Learning. During the Bush Era, “No Child Left Behind” money was used to purchase products from Ignite Learning .When Barbara Bush donated money to the Clinton-Bush Katrina Relief fund, it was under the stipulation that the money be used to buy Ignite Learning products for relocated children. (Source: http://www.motherjones.com/politics/2011/10/jeb-bush-digitial-learning-public-schools?page=2)

  1. They use public funds to publicize themselves and lobby politicians: The cyber-schools and the managing corporations use the money that they collect for their own business purposes. They use it to give their CEOs a big fat paycheck or to advertise to attract more students.  They even use it to lobby Congress people to create lax school regulations. A study in Wisconsin discovered that one school, iQ Academy Wisconsin, dropped $424,700 on ads to drum up more business during the 2007-08 school year. An analysis by the National Institute on Money in State Politics concluded that K12 and its employees had also contributed nearly $500,000 to state political candidates across the country from 2004 to 2010. Basically, they get money from the government, which they give back to the government and politicians, so that they can keep getting money from the government.

  1. K-12 was founded by a convicted junk bonds criminal:  The K-12 Corporation was founded by Mike Milken. If you don’t follow the Bogus Bond news, you might not have heard of him. He was indicted on 98 counts of racketeering and securities fraud in 1989 as a result of his insider trading and junk bond scamming (read this) and spent some time in a tennis-club sort of prison. He founded the company with William Bennett, another Bush crony. In K12’s defense, it has a new CEO; Ron Packard is a Wall Street Business man. He earned $5 million dollars in 2011 (according to Washington Post).

  1. They talk about “Choice” and the “Free Market.” Alex Molnar, the director of publications at the National Education Policy Center (NEPC) at the University of Colorado-Boulder, says these policy prescriptions are part of a corporate-driven agenda to access public education funds. “These folks talk about a free market,” he says, “but they couldn’t exist without taxpayer dollars. There is a limited audience for this. You have to get policymakers to force people into it.” (Source: http://www.motherjones.com/politics/2011/10/jeb-bush-digitial-learning-public-schools?page=2)

  1. Teachers frequently have ridiculous course loads. Teachers are overseeing the education of more children than they can manage. Jessica Long, of the Agora Public School (a K12 School) reports that most teachers manage between 70 and 100 students (NYtimes on Agora Public School). A high school teacher frequently has as many as 250 students. It is not possible to have a meaningful relationship with a teacher who has this sort of course load.

The Bottom Line

According to Diane Ravitch, NYU’s noted educational scholar, the bottom line with the cyber schools is this:

(Cyber Schools) provide a really lousy education. The kids drop out like crazy; many of them have an attrition rate of 50 percent a year, so they have to constantly recruit to bring in fresh bodies. They have very low graduation rate, very bad test scores, very high attrition rates, and they’ll have one teacher monitoring 100 screens. So what is there to like? Why do the politicians keep doing this? It’s because the companies hire lobbyists, make campaign contributions, and they’re politically very wired. This is the great scandal.

What are home-schooling parents to do?

-Don’t enroll in an online public school. Even if you are not getting the tax money yourself, there is no need to take it from a child in a public school and hand it straight to a rich embezzler.

-Get together, on platforms like WizIQ. Share curriculum and lessons with other parents, who really do care about creating a more just and equitable world.

-Support a freelance educator. I run a tiny program with a few students. I am able to see them learn and grow, even though the program is online and I might never be in the same room as them. My program is SHINE (www.s-h-i-n-e.org) and there are other freelance teachers available in the market place at WizIQ.

The education of our children is in our hands. Considering the political climate, we are going to have to hold on to it tightly.

        [Thoughts expressed in this post are entirely my own!]


I am a teacher, hiker, mother, dancer and home-maker. I have taught pre-school through SAT prep. I am exploring ways to create on-line learning communities for home-schooled middle school and high school students. In particular, I am starting a low-residency on-line middle school. I would like to help young people explore important ideas while enjoying their lives! You can learn more about my programs at www.onlineclassesforgroovykids.org.

Comments

  1. Carrie Ann Says: May 3, 2014 at 3:17 pm

    I am a mother of 10 who has been cyberschooling for quite a few years now. I also hold two degrees and about to finish a Masters in Forensic Psychology all from Online Colleges. I was able to run a home daycare giving me the opportunity to work while my husband was away serving our country on various deployments. Cyber schooling has given our family the opportunity to raise our younger children in a much better environment then the older children had in public and private brick and mortar schools in my opinion. The plethora of educational field trips offered at little to no cost has given our family the ability to grow and learn in many ways. Our children have live lessons with live teachers daily and have phone calls regularly with their teachers as well as hubs the children can go to and interact with their teachers. Personally I feel cyber school when you have great teachers can bring out the best in any child. Our kids have all services needed provided for in their home as well, they haven’t been an antibiotics but a few times in several years now and they can learn, grow and have social interactions that are supervised and help when they need it at their very own pace with love and care all the time instead of in a brick and mortar environment crammed with hundreds of kids and not enough attention to go around due to budget costs. Don’t get me wrong if you have to work and they need to go to school for care while you work that’s one thing but if a parent is home then I personally feel the best way to educate is a public cyber school.

  2. Steven Mills Says: November 23, 2013 at 1:19 am

    As a former administrator for an online school this article is
    article is bogus.

    Here it is one by one.

    1.Many government contractors
    are publicly traded companies, how does this make it bad for education? Not
    really sure and this article doesn’t say why.

    2.The reason most cyber schools
    are “behind” is because it picks up all

    the students that fail out of brick and mortar. These students come to cyber
    schools because they will not get a diploma. Many of these students do not make
    it, but many do. So because brick and mortars get to dump their failures it
    actually makes their scores go up, and cyber schools down.

    3.Revenue is not profit, that
    how much they relieved for services, not

    profited. Business 101.

    4.If you are upset about public
    funds being turned around into lobbying, do not look into Washing D.C. too
    closely. It exists in every industry, even your teachers, social workers, and
    just about everyone else has a group.

    5. Okay he is a crook, this
    article wins on number 5.

    6. Parents have to enroll their
    child. In Pa there are dozens of schools competed for the online business, thus
    making services better.

    7. Yes I use to have 200
    students, compared to the 100 I had

    in brick on mortar. But, they all came to the same virtual class, leaving the

    other 7 hours at work to give one on one help and support. I knew my cyber
    students way better than my brick and mortar kids. Where else can you pick up
    the phone and have a one on one convo with your teacher during the day?

    End
    note: Cyber School is not for everyone, but it is not

    some blood sucking demon on the educational system. Some students need online
    schools, I had teenage moms, students with chronic illnesses, and professional
    athletes and performers all continue onto college who would have been high
    school drop outs. So please, before you judge, (or right this article), do some
    actual research. There are bad apples out there, but most due a great service
    to society and give chances to everyone. If you live in an awful school
    district you can go to a top online school, escape violence, and have great
    teachers. Do not read the headlines, talk to families that have children in
    cyber schools, and find out for yourself.

  3. Steven Mills Says: November 23, 2013 at 1:19 am

    As a former administrator for an online school this article is
    article is bogus.

    Here it is one by one.

    1.Many government contractors
    are publicly traded companies, how does this make it bad for education? Not
    really sure and this article doesn’t say why.

    2.The reason most cyber schools
    are “behind” is because it picks up all

    the students that fail out of brick and mortar. These students come to cyber
    schools because they will not get a diploma. Many of these students do not make
    it, but many do. So because brick and mortars get to dump their failures it
    actually makes their scores go up, and cyber schools down.

    3.Revenue is not profit, that
    how much they relieved for services, not

    profited. Business 101.

    4.If you are upset about public
    funds being turned around into lobbying, do not look into Washing D.C. too
    closely. It exists in every industry, even your teachers, social workers, and
    just about everyone else has a group.

    5. Okay he is a crook, this
    article wins on number 5.

    6. Parents have to enroll their
    child. In Pa there are dozens of schools competed for the online business, thus
    making services better.

    7. Yes I use to have 200
    students, compared to the 100 I had

    in brick on mortar. But, they all came to the same virtual class, leaving the

    other 7 hours at work to give one on one help and support. I knew my cyber
    students way better than my brick and mortar kids. Where else can you pick up
    the phone and have a one on one convo with your teacher during the day?

    End
    note: Cyber School is not for everyone, but it is not

    some blood sucking demon on the educational system. Some students need online
    schools, I had teenage moms, students with chronic illnesses, and professional
    athletes and performers all continue onto college who would have been high
    school drop outs. So please, before you judge, (or right this article), do some
    actual research. There are bad apples out there, but most due a great service
    to society and give chances to everyone. If you live in an awful school
    district you can go to a top online school, escape violence, and have great
    teachers. Do not read the headlines, talk to families that have children in
    cyber schools, and find out for yourself.

  4. Steven Mills Says: November 23, 2013 at 1:15 am

    As
    a former administrator for an online school this article is article is bogus.
    Here it is one by one.

    1.Many government contractors are publicly traded companies, how does this make it bad for education? Not really sure and this article doesn’t say why.

    2.The reason most cyber schools are “behind” is because it picks up all
    the students that fail out of brick and mortar. These students come to cyber schools because they will not get a diploma. Many of these students do not make it, but many do. So because brick and mortars get to dump their failures it actually makes there scores go up, and cyber schools down.

    3.Revenue is not profit, that how much they relieved for services, not
    profited. Business 101.

    4.If you are upset about public funds being turned around into lobbying, do not look into Washing D.C. too closely. It exists in every industry, even your teachers, social workers, and just about everyone else has a group.

    5. Okay he is a crook, this article wins on number 5.

    6. Parents have to enroll their child. In Pa there are dozens of schools competed for the online business, thus making services better.

    7. Yes I use to have 200 students, compared to the 100 I had
    in brick on mortar. But, they all came to the same virtual class, leaving the
    other 7 hours at work to give one on one help and support. I knew my cyber students way better than my brick and mortar kids. Where else can you pick up the phone and have a one on one convo with your teacher during the day?

    End note: Cyber School is not for everyone, but it is not
    some blood sucking demon on the educational system. Some students need online schools, I had teenage moms, students with chronic illnesses, and professional athletes and performers all continue onto college who would have been high school drop outs. So please, before you judge, (or right this article), do some actual research. there are bad apples out there, but most due a great service to society and give chances to everyone. If you live in an awful school district you can go to a top online school, escape violence, and have great teachers. Do not read the headlines, talk to families that have children in cyber schools, and find out for yourself.

  5. Steven Mills Says: November 23, 2013 at 1:15 am

    As
    a former administrator for an online school this article is article is bogus.
    Here it is one by one.

    1.Many government contractors are publicly traded companies, how does this make it bad for education? Not really sure and this article doesn’t say why.

    2.The reason most cyber schools are “behind” is because it picks up all
    the students that fail out of brick and mortar. These students come to cyber schools because they will not get a diploma. Many of these students do not make it, but many do. So because brick and mortars get to dump their failures it actually makes there scores go up, and cyber schools down.

    3.Revenue is not profit, that how much they relieved for services, not
    profited. Business 101.

    4.If you are upset about public funds being turned around into lobbying, do not look into Washing D.C. too closely. It exists in every industry, even your teachers, social workers, and just about everyone else has a group.

    5. Okay he is a crook, this article wins on number 5.

    6. Parents have to enroll their child. In Pa there are dozens of schools competed for the online business, thus making services better.

    7. Yes I use to have 200 students, compared to the 100 I had
    in brick on mortar. But, they all came to the same virtual class, leaving the
    other 7 hours at work to give one on one help and support. I knew my cyber students way better than my brick and mortar kids. Where else can you pick up the phone and have a one on one convo with your teacher during the day?

    End note: Cyber School is not for everyone, but it is not
    some blood sucking demon on the educational system. Some students need online schools, I had teenage moms, students with chronic illnesses, and professional athletes and performers all continue onto college who would have been high school drop outs. So please, before you judge, (or right this article), do some actual research. there are bad apples out there, but most due a great service to society and give chances to everyone. If you live in an awful school district you can go to a top online school, escape violence, and have great teachers. Do not read the headlines, talk to families that have children in cyber schools, and find out for yourself.

  6. Ilka Carbo Says: November 19, 2013 at 1:25 am

    Hello.. This is Ilka. The reason why many people choose homeschooling for their children stems on the bullying situation. This sis a manifestation of diversity intolerance. The other fact is that many young people learn bad things in different schools, even when it is private. Some young ladies even get pregnant at a young age, because of social pressure. It is important to know who abuses with the home schooling, so one goes to the right places.

  7. Ilka Carbo Says: November 19, 2013 at 1:25 am

    Hello.. This is Ilka. The reason why many people choose homeschooling for their children stems on the bullying situation. This sis a manifestation of diversity intolerance. The other fact is that many young people learn bad things in different schools, even when it is private. Some young ladies even get pregnant at a young age, because of social pressure. It is important to know who abuses with the home schooling, so one goes to the right places.

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