Charter Schools & "Choice": A Closer Look
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Charter Schools & "Choice": A Closer Look
This collection has been created to raise awareness about concerns related to the privatization of public education. The page also serves as a research tool to organize online content. The grey funnel shaped icon at the top (in the 'Desktop View' mode) allows for searching by keyword (i.e. entering K12 Inc, KIPP, TFA, Walton, Rocketship, ALEC, Koch, or 'discipline', etc.) will yield specific subsets of articles relevant to each keyword).  For posts related to TFA, see For posts related to Rocketship, see For posts related to KIPP, see, and for posts related to the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC), see  Readers are encouraged to explore additional links for further information beyond the text provided on the page. [  [Note: Views presented on this page are re-shared from external websites.  The content may not necessarily represent the views nor official position of the curator nor employer of the curator.] For critical perspectives on the next wave of privatization poised to take over public services, see the page on Social Impact Bonds and 'Pay For Success' programs: For additional education updates, see [Links to external site]
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CA Attorney General to Investigate Online Charter Industry // In the Public Interest

CA Attorney General to Investigate Online Charter Industry // In the Public Interest | Charter Schools & "Choice": A Closer Look |

By Donald Cohen

"Did you know that one of the fastest growing sectors of the charter school industry are ‘virtual’ charter schools, where K-12 students learn from home in front of their computers? No school buildings, no recess with friends, no shared learning. It’s true. The largest virtual charter company, a publicly traded corporation called K12, Inc., provides education to over 120,000 public school students across the country. Last year, they made more than $900 million in revenue, most of it taxpayer money earmarked for public education.

But virtual charters are starting to pile up bad news and serious questions about their priorities.

A study released last week by the Center for Research on Education Outcomes (CREDO) found that students attending virtual charters learn significantly less in math and reading than similar students attending brick-and-mortar schools. So significantly less that the Washington Post’s Lyndsey Layton wrote, “In other words, when it comes to math, it’s as if the [online] students did not attend school at all.”

This week, news broke that California’s Attorney General is investigating the entire virtual charter industry. And for good reason. Earlier this year, we looked under the hood of California Virtual Academies (CAVA), the state’s largest provider of online public education, and what we found was clear: CAVA’s manager and primary vendor, a subsidiary of K12 Inc., has put their responsibility to maximize profits for shareholders above investing in educating children.

Virtual charters are starting to pile up bad news and serious questions about their priorities.

While the overall percentage of U.S. students who attend online schools is small, in some states—like California, where CAVA teachers are organizing to serve students and families, not corporations—online education has become yet another path towards the privatization of public education. Online charters are a significant issue in Pennsylvania’s ongoing budget standoff between legislative leaders and the governor, as the state has the second-highest online enrollment in the country.

An increasing number of charter schools are using ‘blended learning’ models, where students go to school but spend lots of time in front of keyboards and screens. A former executive of the charter school chain Rocketship—which is one of the largest users of online learning—called blended learning “stripped-down efficiency model.”

Along with a growing crowd, we have concerns about an overreliance on technology in the classroom, but fully online schools go too far. While high quality virtual charters can be useful for certain students, like actors, artists, or Olympic hopefuls, the majority of kids need teachers to interact with and classmates to socialize and study with. And a pro-charter think-tank (CREDO), California’s attorney general, and many others, including teachers, seem to agree.

To follow up our CAVA report, we’re going to be looking even harder at virtual charters. Let us know if companies like K12, Inc., are recruiting students in your community.

We’d love to hear from you. Send us an email:"...

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ProfitShip (Rocketship) Learning // The Progressive, Public School Shakedown

ProfitShip (Rocketship) Learning // The Progressive, Public School Shakedown | Charter Schools & "Choice": A Closer Look |

"By Ruth Conniff 
"This animated video by Pulitzer Prize-winning cartoonist Mark Fiore looks at school privatization through the eyes of little Timmy, a kindergartener who likes his public school.  Timmy gets a confusing lesson in corporate education reform, starting with the rightwing mantra: “Public schools have failed.” 

“But I like my public school,” Timmy protests.


A top rightwing think tank has devoted more than $30 million to spread the message that public education is failing. According to a report by One Wisconsin Now, the Milwaukee-based Bradley Foundation is a major underwriter of this propaganda effort. Bradley spent millions on shoddy research, media punditry, and a lobbying campaign to promote the idea that public schools have failed and to push school vouchers and other privatization schemes as the “solution”.


Large, national charter-school chains have been major of the beneficiaries of the campaign to fix “failing” public schools. Among them, Rocketship––“a low-budget operation that relies on young and inexperienced teachers rather than more veteran and expensive faculty,” according to a report by economist Gordon Lafer for the Economic Policy Institute.


Not all charter schools are bad. Some offer high-quality, alternative models classrooms that are enriching for kids. But over the last decade, the charter school movement has morphed from a small, community-based effort to foster alternative education into a vehicle for privatizing public education, pushed by free-market foundations, big education-management companies, and profit-seekers looking for a way to cash in on public-education funds."...


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Growing Pains for Rocketship's Blended-Learning Juggernaut - EdWeek

Growing Pains for Rocketship's Blended-Learning Juggernaut - EdWeek | Charter Schools & "Choice": A Closer Look |

Picture caption: "In the center of the room, a software program delivers lessons tailored to the individual skill levels of a second group of Mateo Sheedy students. An hourly-rate aide oversees the students."

by Rahim Rahimian of EdWeek 


Article by Benjamin Herold of EdWeek

Selected quote: 

"...Although test scores have steadily declined as the network has added schools and students, Rocketship has maintained its voracious appetite for growth. Rather than resolve that tension, the new flexible classrooms have, by Rocketship’s own admission, further strained the organization and exposed underlying problems glossed over during the group’s ascent.


Some Rocketship leaders, for example, now acknowledge that their original blended learning model—which powered the organization’s initial growth, to nine schools and 5,200 students, before its impact could be rigorously studied—may be more effective at teaching students to follow directions than to think for themselves."...


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Ed School Dean: Urban School Reform is Really About Land Development (Not Kids) // Washington Post

Ed School Dean: Urban School Reform is Really About Land Development (Not Kids) // Washington Post | Charter Schools & "Choice": A Closer Look |

"Here is a provocative piece from Leslie T. Fenwick, dean of the Howard University School of Education and a professor of education policy, about what is really behind urban school reform. It’s not about fixing schools, she argues, but, rather, about urban land development. Fenwick has devoted her career to improving educational opportunity and outcomes for African American and other under-served students."...

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Rocketship Lands in Milwaukee // The Progressive

Rocketship Lands in Milwaukee // The Progressive | Charter Schools & "Choice": A Closer Look |

By Barbara Miner
"Like most principals, Brittany Kinser is a cheerleader for her school. “I just want to make sure you’ll be positive,” she says when I visit the Rocketship charter school in Milwaukee. 

Looking younger than her thirty-seven years and with the physique of a long-distance runner, Kinser has a seemingly endless supply of energy and enthusiasm. It’s hard not to like her. Following one of the school’s axioms—Dress for Success—she is wearing a magenta pencil-skirt that nicely sets off her black sweater, tights, and four-inch stiletto heels. Her Dress for Success message is clear: I am competent and I am in charge.

At the same time, Kinser is nervous about my visit. It’s understandable.  For almost a quarter century, I have criticized using public tax dollars to fund private voucher schools and privately run charter schools. Rocketship, an entrepreneurial network of charter schools based in the Silicon Valley, has become a national poster child for the privatization of public education. It is particularly known for its bare-bones curricular focus on standardized test scores in reading and math, its use of computer-based “learning labs” that cut down costs, and its promotion of the Rocketship brand—including a daily pep rally where students chant that they are “Rocketship Rocketeers.”

After visiting Rocketship Southside Community Prep, as Milwaukee’s K4 through fifth-grade school is formally known, I could see why some people might react positively. Students were well behaved. Parents were welcome. The young teachers were energetic.

But as I left the school, I couldn’t help thinking: Can young students dress their way to success? Or chant their way to academic achievement? Are computerized worksheets the answer to reducing the achievement gap?

Rocketship opened its Milwaukee school in 2013, serving overwhelmingly low-income, Latino students on the city’s South side. The local chamber of commerce raised $2.5 million in private contributions to help fund Rocketship’s expansion to eight schools in Milwaukee by 2017.

Just inside the main entrance, there are banners from various universities hanging from the ceiling—part of the school’s message that students should be thinking about college. At the students’ eye level are Dress for Success posters featuring young children wearing the school uniform of khaki pants and a blue polo shirt with the Rocketship logo.


I’m not opposed to uniforms. I wore them throughout high school and appreciated that I didn’t have to figure out every morning what to wear. But the nuns never told us that our uniforms were the key to success. The policy was based more on a Catholic school philosophy that worried about the sin of pride and that discouraged too much attention to individual appearances.


At Rocketship, I couldn’t quite figure out the laser-like focus on Dress for Success. They don’t take it lightly. The school handbook notes that students who do not wear their uniform “may lose recess, lunch or other privileges.”...


For full article published on "The Progressive", click on title or image above or here:


For recent news related to the illegal forced parent work policies that are central to Rocketship's parent engagement model (revealed by the Public Advocates report) please visit:


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Under-Enrollment May Bring $1.4 Million Loss for Rocketship Milwaukee // JSOnline

Under-Enrollment May Bring $1.4 Million Loss for Rocketship Milwaukee // JSOnline | Charter Schools & "Choice": A Closer Look |

"California-based Rocketship Education's first school in Milwaukee fell short of its enrollment projection of 485 students on the third Friday of September, which will likely lead to a $1.4 million shortfall for the school, according to new documents."

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