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Spotlight on the "Darker Side" of Charters and Virtual Schools: K12

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Rick Scott and the GOP Are Draining Millions Of Our Tax Dollars from Our Public Schools so Out of State Corporations Like K12 Can Profit Off Our Children's Education

TALLAHASSEE, FL — Welcome to the "Darker Side" of Vouchers, Charters and Virtual Schools: the Republican's scheme to drain millions of dollars from our local public schools so out of state corporations can profit off our children's education. Today, Florida Democrats are shining the spotlight on one example which highlights the fiscal recklessness of giving our tax dollars to these for-profit companies at the expense of our local public schools: K12, a virtual, online school that operates in 43 Florida school districts, including Miami-Dade, Broward, Hillsborough, Orange and Duval counties. 

Unfortunately for students and parents, K12 put their own profits over our children's education: using uncertified teachers, attempting to falsify records, and booking classes with 275 students per teacher, prompting an investigation by the FDLE. In recent years, "K12 has increased profits while student performance has suffered, raising questions about whether the for-profit virtual schools provider is making money at the expense of academics."

"The scandals surrounding virtual education provider K12 illustrate clearly the fiscal recklessness of the Republican's effort to drain millions of dollars from our local public schools and send our tax dollars to out of state companies who are trying to profit off our children's education," said Florida Democratic Party Executive Director Scott Arceneaux. "Instead of investing in public schools which are the key to growing our economy and strengthening the middle class, Rick Scott and the GOP are intent on taking local control of our schools away from our parents — and the results for our children can be catastrophic. When Florida Republicans like Scott talk about improving our schools — but waste our tax dollars on out of state corporations who are more focused on their profits than educating students — you just can't trust them with Florida's future." 

BACKGROUND: 

K12, a for-profit virtual school "used uncertified teachers," attempted to falsify records and had 275 students per 1 teacher. "The Florida Department of Education has launched an investigation of K12, the nation’s largest online educator, over allegations the company uses uncertified teachers and has asked employees to help cover up the practice. K12 officials asked state-certified teachers to sign class rosters that included students they hadn’t taught, according to documents that are part of the investigation…The documents suggest K12 may be using uncertified teachers in violation of state law;" "A high school teacher working for K12  may have as many as 275 students…" [FCIR, 9/11/12; FCIR, 9/16/12

K12 is focused on profits, not education students.  "K12 is an $864 million publicly traded company whose stock price has more than doubled in the last year. In recent years, K12 has increased profits while student performance has suffered, raising questions about whether the for-profit virtual schools provider is making money at the expense of academics. A July 2012 study by the National Education Policy Center at the University of Colorado found that students at K12 schools fell further behind in reading and math scores than pupils in traditional schools. [FCIR, 9/11/12]  

Unlike public schools K12 has incentive to maximize profits instead of using quality teachers. "K12 has a financial incentive to skirt Florida’s law requiring the use of certified teachers. Simply, K12 can pay uncertified teachers less than certified teachers while collecting the same amount per student from state public school districts, increasing profits for shareholders." [FCIR, 9/11/12

Florida Republicans gave $55 million to for-profit Charter schools, while public schools got zero dollars. "School district officials across Florida are bemoaning the Legislature's decision to cut traditional public schools out of PECO — the Public Education Capital Outlay program. The state's 350 charter schools will share $55 million, while the approximately 3,000 traditional schools will go without." [Orlando Sentinel, 7/25/11

In 2012, Republicans included 0 dollars for public school construction or repair. "Florida's schools, community colleges and state universities, which anticipate zero construction dollars, will be forced to stop or put off for years many dozens of new projects, including repairs to roofs and air-conditioners” [Sunshine State News, 3/3/2012]

For years, Republicans drained tax dollars from public school and gave it to for-profit charters. "For the last three years, the state has given no money for construction, and maintenance money has fallen off… At the same time, separate PECO funding for charter schools has grown;" "At issue: a provision in the budget that allocates $55 million in Public Education Capital Outlay dollars to charter schools. Traditional public schools, which once relied upon PECO dollars for construction and maintenance projects, wouldn't receive any." [Orlando Sentinel, 7/25/11; Tampa Bay Times, 2/8/12

"Welcome to the darker side of Florida's world of charter and virtual schools." "Welcome to the darker side of Florida's world of charter and virtual schools. In recent years, state legislators who espouse the virtues of school choice – and private companies who've profited from picking off traditional public school students – have reshaped the educational landscape to an unsettling degree." [Orlando Sentinel, 9/19/12 

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