California Education Reform For-Profit K12 Inc. Virtual Charter Schools

California Legislature Passes Ban on For-Profit Charters: Will Governor Brown Sign It?

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The California Legislature passed a bill banning for-profit charters. The sponsor is Assemblymember Kevin McCarty of Sacramento. The bill is aimed primarily at the virtual charter school run by for-profit K12 Inc.

Last time such a bill was passed, Governor Brown vetoed it. Having opened two charters when he was mayor of Oakland, he is very protective of them. This is a stain on his otherwise progressive record.

Even the California Charter Schools Association has endorsed this bill.

The San Jose Mercury News ran a powerful expose of K12 Inc. in 2016.

“SACRAMENTO — For-profit companies will be banned from running charter schools in California if Gov. Jerry Brown signs a hard-fought bill that won final approval from the state Legislature on Thursday.

“The proposal is the latest of several attempts to crack down on what critics say amounts to profiteering at the expense of children and taxpayers, the subject of a 2016 investigation by this news organization. Its passage came only after proponents were able to forge agreement between two groups that are almost always at odds: teachers unions and the trade association representing charter schools.

“The exposé in the Mercury News highlighted the need for reform,” said the bill’s author, Assemblyman Kevin McCarty, a Sacramento Democrat who serves on the education committee.

“That investigation zeroed in on K12 Inc., a for-profit operation based in Virginia and traded on Wall Street that manages publicly funded charter schools in California and other states. The K12-run network California Virtual Academies, the largest of its kind in the state with an enrollment of roughly 15,000, graduated fewer than half of its high school students, the news organization reported, and some teachers said they were pressured to inflate grades and enrollment records.

”This news organization’s probe also found that children who logged onto the company’s software for as little as one minute per day were counted as “present” for the purposes of calculating the amount of taxpayer funding the company would receive from California.

“As with policies from immigration enforcement to fuel standards, the Legislature’s approval of a for-profit charter school ban is at odds with the policies of the Trump administration. U.S. Education Secretary Betsy DeVos is not only a vocal supporter of for-profit education, but her husband disclosed they were early investors in K12 Inc.

“Assembly Bill 406 would change California’s charter school law to prohibit for-profit corporations and for-profit educational management organizations from running the state’s taxpayer-funded and independently run schools — even if the schools themselves are technically nonprofits.

LCalifornia currently has about 35 such charter schools, according to McCarty’s office. In 2016 K12 settled a lawsuit with the state for $168.5 million over claims that it manipulated attendance records and other measures of student success.”

Governor Brown has until September 30 to sign or veto the bill.

Jesse Calefati’s reporting for the San Jose Mercury News is education journalism at its finest, independent and owing nothing to philanthropists or investors.

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