by Max Brantley
You might remember that Sen. Johnny Key pulled a fast one in the special language subcommittee and exploded the cap on "virtual charter school" enrollment in Arkansas from 500 to a whopping 5,000 without full legislative deliberation. This will be a $28 million taxpayer windfall to the "virtual charter" and to K12 Inc., the private corporation that makes millions nationwide providing management services to virtual charter schools.
Virtual charter schools are essentially structures to take in state tax money equal to that given bricks-and-mortar schools with paid faculties and facilities in support of home schoolers. It's a racket, but a richly rewarding one for Bill Bennett and the others who dreamed up K12.
Please note that Colorado's biggest "virtual academy" has decided to break off its relationship with K12.
From local radio reporting:
Brian Bissell, head of the COVA board, confirmed the change Tuesday. It will go into effect during the 2014-2015 school year. COVA has struggled with poor academic performance in recent years amid questions about K12 Inc.’s management of school resources—including teacher understaffing.
Bissell, who is a K12 Inc. shareholder and has three children enrolled in COVA, says that the school could still use K12’s curriculum but says school leaders have decided that new management is the best option. “It became clear that at certain points in COVA history the interests of COVA—that is our students and their families, their teachers and Colorado’s taxpayers—these have not always been aligned with K12’s interests,” he said.
Education Director Tom Kimbrell had argued that the virtual school should be subject to the same sort of oversight that other charter schools get. Johnny Key doesn't see it that way. Nor do the cheerleaders, such as the Democrat-Gazette, for throwing state tax money at anything calling itself a charter school without concern for how the money is spent or who's profiting unduly.