The current pandemic is killing people, causing millions more to lose their jobs, and forcing an unwanted change in all of our lives. This damage necessarily extends to our public schools too, as tax revenue dries up at precisely the moment the community’s needs are greatest.
So it is with a special dose of anger that I noticed K12 Inc. using this time to run new ads for their charter schools. Here’s an example:
Why, in the midst of this crisis, do our state representatives continue to send public tax dollars to failing charter schools run by companies like K12 Inc.?
K12 Inc. is not itself a school, but a for-profit corporation. They make their money by operating charter schools and taking some of the tax dollars intended for educating students and redirecting them to their shareholders. All of this is perfectly legal, thanks to Pennsylvania’s charter school law– a law so broken that it has attracted national attention. Yet year after year our state representatives refuse to fix it.
If you’re not as angry as me about this yet, let me share a few more facts. K12 Inc. had over a billion dollars in revenue last year and made a profit of over $62 million for its shareholders. As the company’s annual report glowingly notes, their corporate profits are up “more than 26.4% year-over-year.” Virtually all this money comes from taxpayers like you and me. As does the money used to pay for their slick advertisements touting their “public” schools. The arrangement certainly works well for their investors!
But the same can’t be said of the students K12 Inc. claims they are serving. I looked at the data for Insight PA Cyber Charter School, one of two charter schools they operate in the state. Their record is nothing short of abysmal. According to the PA Future Ready Index, Insight PA isn’t meeting educational goals in English, math, science, or career readiness. To give just one example, only 8% of Insight’s students are proficient in math, compared to the statewide average of 45% and 75% at Emmaus High School. And believe it or not, their performance is actually getting worse over time.
At this point, it probably won’t surprise you that Insight PA Cyber Charter School is run by a CEO rather than a superintendent. She was paid $199,469 last year to oversee this single online school of 1,626 students. By comparison, the East Penn superintendent is paid about 20% less while overseeing ten schools serving more than 8,300 students.
I hope you see now why I’m so angry K12 Inc. has chosen the middle of the pandemic to lure more Pennsylvania kids into their failing schools– and thus more of our increasingly scarce tax dollars into their coffers. And I save much of this anger for our representatives in Harrisburg who continue to enable them. Politicians get away with it because most of us aren’t paying attention. Perhaps now is the time to let them know we’ve noticed:
- Senator Pat Browne, 610-821-8468, https://www.senatorbrowne.com/contact-me/
- Senator Lisa Boscola, 610-868-8667, firstname.lastname@example.org
- Representative Ryan Mackenzie, 610-965-9933, http://www.repmackenzie.com/contact.aspx
- Representative Justin Simmons, 610-965-5830, http://www.repsimmons.com/contact.aspx
And if you’re interested in learning more about this issue, check out two other related posts of mine: