New York Times: Profits and Questions at Online Charter Schools
U.S. Army Corps of Engineers photo by Carol E. Davis
The New York Times ran a great piece of investigative journalism about online charter schools that are profiting on the taxpayers dime. Specifically, New York Times writer Stephanie Saul studied K12 Inc. and found huge dropout rates, lowered standards, overworked teachers and majorities or near majorities of students falling behind by almost any standard available. Most disturbingly, all this is accomplished with taxpayer money that is being funneled away from traditional public schools into the coffers of a for-profit online schooling scheme.
By almost every educational measure, the Agora Cyber Charter School is failing.
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.
By Wall Street standards, though, Agora is a remarkable success that has helped enrich K12 Inc., the publicly traded company that manages the school. And the entire enterprise is paid for by taxpayers.
The New York Times has spent several months examining this idea, focusing on K12 Inc. A look at the company’s operations, based on interviews and a review of school finances and performance records, raises serious questions about whether K12 schools — and full-time online schools in general — benefit children or taxpayers, particularly as state education budgets are being slashed.
Instead, a portrait emerges of a company that tries to squeeze profits from public school dollars by raising enrollment, increasing teacher workload and lowering standards.
Click here to read the full article at the New York Times and let us know in the comments below if you have any experience with online schools.