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15 Months in Virtual Charter Hell: A Teacher's Tale


treestarfae
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The thing that occurred to me is that it's not surprising she's sad. For good or bad K12 is what it is and what it is sounds like a very bad match for this woman. She's upset because home-schooled kids aren't logging in or coming to her with questions. The very nature of a cyber-system means kids are encouraged to work through the material at home with their parents. Why come to her if they don't have questions for her to answer?

 

The reset of the stuff about the business practice of K12 - wow. That stinks!

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No, she's upset that public schooled children are not coming to log in.  It is an online charter school.  I don't have any problem with someone who uses one identifying as a homeschooler, but the program that this woman worked for was legally a public school charter and had rules and procedures that came under that umbrella, not one of homeschooling.  

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Interesting. My three instances of personal knowledge of the virtual school system (first two in SC, third in GA):

 

1. A woman in my playgroup who quit brick&mortar teaching to teach for K12. She teaches science and she loves it. She gets to stay home with her children and check her email on her provided phone and answer questions while on playdates and get paid.

 

2. A woman in my playgroup who pulled her kids out for bullying. She first went with Connections and was very unhappy with them. She said they wouldn't let her girls complete assignments on their own time, required set hours, etc. she had an advanced middle schooler, and a behind first grader. She switched to K12 and said she liked it much better. To contrast with my next story, this woman seems fairly well-educated, able to advocate for her children, and help them with their work.

 

3. Family member who gave her three boys the choice to do K12 this school year because she and they didn't like the "culture" of their new school district after a move. The high school and middle school boy both chose K12. This family member dropped out of high school, has learning disabilities, and was not able to pass her GED. Her boys, though, have always done well in school. Just a few weeks in to K12, and they were back in brick and mortar. They felt they didn't have the support they needed to be successful. Their parents didn't have the resources to help them, and I guess K12 wasn't giving them the same kind of support they got from being in a physical classroom that they needed to succeed.

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The thing that occurred to me is that it's not surprising she's sad. For good or bad K12 is what it is and what it is sounds like a very bad match for this woman. She's upset because home-schooled kids aren't logging in or coming to her with questions. The very nature of a cyber-system means kids are encouraged to work through the material at home with their parents. Why come to her if they don't have questions for her to answer?

 

The reset of the stuff about the business practice of K12 - wow. That stinks!

 

But they're not homeschoolers.  They're public school students.

 

I think this is the strange nature of K12.  Some people chose it as a sort of hybrid homeschool.  However, many parents put their kids in thinking that their child will have a teacher who will take care of the child's education and their role won't be that much larger than overseeing homework.  And part of the point of the article is that K12 is encouraging this sort of view because they'll do anything to get more kids on their rolls and make more money.  And those kids, as she points out, are being set up to fail.

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I am sad about the nature of the problem. Vulnerable young people do need help, but brick and mortar schools encourage bullying and other situations that bring on vulnerability. The kids who need to the most help are not getting helped this way either, it seems. What is a young person to do when they have nowhere to turn?

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One concern I do share with this teacher is the money making business models of such schools. Yes, I understand many private schools have always earned profit, but opening a private school that is geared toward the rich is not the same model as mass marketing. I fear some of the same things that plague the for profit universities will also hold true for these - those problems being putting unprepared students in classes, making promises that cannot or at least will not be fulfilled, charging more than it's worth, etc.

 

On the other hand, this woman seems to have started out with a negative attitude.

 

"While I had misgivings about the nature of the school, I thought perhaps if I were diligent, I could serve my students well," she says, from the very beginning.

 

She then dives into negative comments about the founders and about Wm Bennett, for example. I am not even saying I disagree with her but I didn't go to work for them! And I have to wonder why she did, if she felt this way. Maybe to write a negative review?

 

I would probably never put my child in K12 just because it would not be a good vehicle for my educational philosophies nor my FD's needs (nor would it have met the needs of DS2. It might have worked well for DS1 but since he graduated in '87, there was nothing like that even on the horizon.

 

Nothing else she said really surprised me.

 

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One concern I do share with this teacher is the money making business models of such schools. Yes, I understand many private schools have always earned profit, but opening a private school that is geared toward the rich is not the same model as mass marketing. I fear some of the same things that plague the for profit universities will also hold true for these - those problems being putting unprepared students in classes, making promises that cannot or at least will not be fulfilled, charging more than it's worth, etc.

 

On the other hand, this woman seems to have started out with a negative attitude.

 

"While I had misgivings about the nature of the school, I thought perhaps if I were diligent, I could serve my students well," she says, from the very beginning.

 

She then dives into negative comments about the founders and about Wm Bennett, for example. I am not even saying I disagree with her but I didn't go to work for them! And I have to wonder why she did, if she felt this way. Maybe to write a negative review?

 

I would probably never put my child in K12 just because it would not be a good vehicle for my educational philosophies nor my FD's needs (nor would it have met the needs of DS2. It might have worked well for DS1 but since he graduated in '87, there was nothing like that even on the horizon.

 

Nothing else she said really surprised me.

 

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A virtual school IS going to be exactly as she described…..a mix of kids who don't attend a B&M school for a variety of reasons.  

 

What did she expect?  AP students who just wanted to have more time to read?

 

Sorry, but I am not feeling the sadness.  She couldn't hack it or it wasn't a good fit for her.  Whatever.

 

I read article after article about how horrible my school district was (where I worked) and how sad it was for the kids, how the teachers were worked to death, etc…..It got old.  I LOVED it.  It was organized chaos and I felt like I was making a drop of difference in the world.  I thrived there.  Many did not, and they wrote articles about it.  The articles made me sad.  If these kids (where I worked and those in virtual school) don't have quality people in their lives, they have no one.  You can choose to rise above and help in ways you can, letting go of the issues where you can't help, or you can complain that "the system" is so horrible you can't cope and leave the kids without someone who cares.  It really is up to your attitude.

 

Whew…..all of that before a 2nd cup of coffee.

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Does K12 itself run schools? I thought the K12 charters were set up individually and K12 just provides the curriculum. Was she working for K12 or for a charter school? If it was a charter school, wouldn't the problems she describes be specific to that school? The article seems to be talking about a nationwide entity running schools. I'm not an expert in K12 but I didn't think that was how the publicly funded K12 schools work. I know in my state there are a couple of different districts that offer virtual charters using K12. There are other charter schools that offer a variety of options with K12 being just one of them. I imagine the experience of teachers and students working with those schools would vary from school to school.

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My son is enrolled at a K12 virtual academy and it has been a very good fit for us and he is doing very well in 1st grade. In the K12 model, the elementary years are minimally online -- a parent does most of the teaching. I know that it is not technically homeschooling, but it is not completely dissimilar. In the high school years, the student becomes more independent and much of their work is online. I don't know if that would work for us. 

 

But in first grade, the parent does 99% of the teaching; the school simply provides the curriculum and the online system that schedules and organizes the material for us. We are free to go as fast or as slow as we need, to supplement and to make decisions according to our child's needs. We do have a teacher who provides some online sessions that are optional, but for the most part, the responsibility of instruction is on the parent. I've been very pleased with the curriculum as well. 

 

I have heard negative things about VAs in other states, but we have been very pleased with the K12 curriculum through Minnesota Virtual Academy. 

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In my experience, the conversation was never about how our students were struggling, how we could support those who were trying to learn the English Language, how we could support those who were homeless or how we could support those with special needs....

 

The majority of students at the school are the kinds of kids whose histories and current realities cause concerned adults to keep eyes open for signs of trauma, those that haunt the dreams of educators and social workers. My students were survivors - of suicide attempts, of bullying, of abuse, of neglect, of the attempted suicides of siblings or best-friends or boyfriends. Some of them battle addictions and destructive habits; some self-harm, isolate themselves, or even run away.

Her description of who enrolls in that particular virtual charter is VERY different from my experience with families who've had their kids in our local K12-affiliated charter. The typical K12 user I know is a middle-class-to-affluent suburban family dissatisfied with PS but who feels overwhelmed by the thought of independent HSing. The preset curriculum and teacher oversight gives the parent the confidence to pull the child(ren) out of PS. After 1-2 semesters, the parent feels more confident about having the kids home and the family almost always jumps ship to a more flexible charter with a stipend or independent HSing.

 

I think she's tarring an entire corporation based on problems with one particular charter.

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Does K12 itself run schools? I thought the K12 charters were set up individually and K12 just provides the curriculum. Was she working for K12 or for a charter school? If it was a charter school, wouldn't the problems she describes be specific to that school? The article seems to be talking about a nationwide entity running schools. I'm not an expert in K12 but I didn't think that was how the publicly funded K12 schools work. I know in my state there are a couple of different districts that offer virtual charters using K12. There are other charter schools that offer a variety of options with K12 being just one of them. I imagine the experience of teachers and students working with those schools would vary from school to school.

 

 

You are exactly right and you know it. K12 does not run those charter schools. K12 provides the curriculum. Clearly the experience of teachers and students vary from school to school.

 

This is an example of why it is difficult to actually have a serious dialogue about any aspect of cyber charter schools, because people like this teacher generally don't bother to make the effort to be specific about what they are talking about. 

 

ETA: My family has had some experiences with cyber charter schools because we have had periods of time in which that sort of thing has been attractive to us for specific reasons. I live in Pennsylvania. My experience with Pa Cyber was that there was no intention on the part of the school to provide direct instruction. Teachers were nearly impossible to communicate with, the 'instructional supervisor' was intended to ride herd on the families, and the few online instructional sessions were, if not cancelled, intended to be viewed by literally hundreds of kids across the state and never meant to be a means of meaningful interaction. Our experience with a K12 school, Agora, was a bit better and we did have some, minimal, contact with a teacher who shared with us that she was responsible for a huge number of kids. We finally tried Commonwealth Connections Academy and while I'm no fan of Pearson I have to say that the teachers each had about twenty to twenty five kids in a 'class', online sessions in which even those class sizes were broken down into smaller groups were a daily part of the schedule, one on one interactive sessions online were commonplace, sometimes planned weekly and some spur of the moment based on an email or a phone call. Those teachers were very proactive and in contact personally with me about once a week and with my kids daily. A totally different experience. If I feel a cyber charter school would fit my family's needs better than homeschooling at any point in the future, I know I'll be going back to Commonwealth Connections (even though some of the curriculum makes me barf) specifically because of the level of interaction.

 

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Her description of who enrolls in that particular virtual charter is VERY different from my experience with families who've had their kids in our local K12-affiliated charter. The typical K12 user I know is a middle-class-to-affluent suburban family dissatisfied with PS but who feels overwhelmed by the thought of independent HSing. The preset curriculum and teacher oversight gives the parent the confidence to pull the child(ren) out of PS. After 1-2 semesters, the parent feels more confident about having the kids home and the family almost always jumps ship to a more flexible charter with a stipend or independent HSing.

 

I think she's tarring an entire corporation based on problems with one particular charter.

 

I understand that both types of students are in K12 - children whose parents want to sort of homeschool and children whose parents think the computer will be the school - but which is more common?  I really don't know.

 

Also, the impression the article gives is that all the K12 teachers are pooled together, dealing with a variety of students.  Is that true or do they only work with the students from one charter?

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Got it.  Then what are the "statewide" and "nationwide" meetings that she refers to where they have to encourage students to enroll?  Are those just by the charter?  Is it a specific charter company?  I know there are some charters that use K12 that are also for profit businesses and run multiple charters.

 

The statistic she shares that drastically less students enrolled in K12 are proficient is pretty scary looking, I must say.

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Is it weird that this article got me curious and slightly interested in teaching for one of these virtual charter schools. If I could teach for money and still be home with my kids that would be awesome. I'm only thinking about for when they are a bit older though.  The author just sounds like a bitter ex employee who could not hack it or didn't belong there in the first place (she states she started with a negative attitude about the job.)

 

She makes a good point about K12 being a for profit business put together by known financial backers but I have absolutely nothing wrong with for profit businesses.    If it is the charter school she worked for that is the problem she should be calling them out not the K12 program. But she doesn't make that much clear in the article.

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The state contracts with K12, and K12 runs the virtual public charter schools for that state.  They are public schools because the state pays.  They are subject to whatever the charter school laws are in the individual states, which is typically less rigorous than public school policy.

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Does K12 itself run schools? I thought the K12 charters were set up individually and K12 just provides the curriculum.

K12 runs a nationwide private school of its own. The K12 charters are public schools.

In my area teachers are generally happy and have worked for many years with the local charter. There are promotions path too in the charter. It is like working as a private school teacher but doing most of your teaching from home using webcam. The salary is lower and my kids assigned teachers have ther kids in public school. Demographics of students vary by area.

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I have so many thoughts on this subject I don't even know where to start. For background my ds13 is in his 8th year with k12 with two different state charters/virtual academies. I consider it to be a rigorous curriculum. Ds13 has done well, consistently scoring advanced on his standardized tests in both math and reading. He is also currently, as an 8th grader, working on two high school for credit classes--math and science.

 

K12 is a business. They sell their product to these schools or they sell it to individuals who use it to homeschool their child independently. No one is forced into either of those situations. There are other options. It works very well for our situation but I have discouraged several of my friends from using it especially if they are starting with older kids.

 

Parents have a responsibility to their children. Just as in B&M schools there are always going to be kids whose parents do not give proper support or kids who fall through the cracks in some other way at school.

 

I have quite a few complaints about the way the charter is operated. I suspect the issues are from teachers with too many students. But I have made the decision to stick it out for now since we have been with them for 8 years. I can't decide if things are getting worse because ds is in a higher grade ( basically high school the way they have him set up) , or because we moved to OK, or because the whole set up is falling apart in some way.

 

I do question her suggestion that they seek out low functioning kids....how will that benefit them in the long run.....wouldn't it be better to have high achievers to make their stats look better?

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The state contracts with K12, and K12 runs the virtual public charter schools for that state. They are public schools because the state pays. They are subject to whatever the charter school laws are in the individual states, which is typically less rigorous than public school policy.

K12 also sells their boxed curriculum and teacher services to individuals who don't have to answer to the state ( except as a homeschoolers).

 

It has not been my experience that the standards in the virtual k12 through the state is less rigorous than the public school policy. Not at all.

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In CO folks can sign up through K12 and be psers or buy the K12 curr on their own. The parents pay for it in the later case. ALL of the K12 parents that *I'm* aware of here want it to TEACH their children. And then they're very frustrated when that's not the case and they drop out. And K12 doesn't care as they already have the $$$ from the ps. We only have ONE family in our valley that have stuck it out more than one year. The ones that made it through part of the year almost always end up back in ps (they did K12 because they didn't WANT to hs) and the kids are very behind. They then call and yell at me. I remind them of our conversation back in August, warning them that it's not been terribly successful HERE. Not saying it's the case everywhere--that's just been my experience. I get calls regularly from folks sent by the district, wanting to join our group so their kids are not isolated. I tell them that we're hsers, not psers, so our group won't work. We visit a bit longer and invariably, what they REALLY want is for ME to take the K12 and pound their kids through it. I always decline. I wish the ps would quit sending these people to me. I can't send them to some mythical K12/Vista/Connections, etc group that is going to do the work for me. The latest woman cursed me out and slammed down the phone. Last I heard, her kid dropped out and is dealing drugs. Yeah, that's who I really want my kid around... Sorry, but I have no use for K12 and their ilk when they imply that the kid will be learning on his own. Not happenin'...

What do the public schools send kids to you for?

 

You run a co op? You don't allow virtual public schoolers to join?

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K12 also sells their boxed curriculum and teacher services to individuals who don't have to answer to the state ( except as a homeschoolers).

 

It has not been my experience that the standards in the virtual k12 through the state is less rigorous than the public school policy. Not at all.

 

Yes, they also have a homeschool business on the side.  But I was answering the question about whether or not their charter schools are run locally or by the K12 organization.

 

I'm saying that the laws charter schools follow in most states are different than the laws public schools have to follow, even though the charter is technically a public school.

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K12 is a business. They sell their product to these schools or they sell it to individuals who use it to homeschool their child independently. No one is forced into either of those situations. There are other options. It works very well for our situation but I have discouraged several of my friends from using it especially if they are starting with older kids.

In CO folks can sign up through K12 and be psers or buy the K12 curr on their own. The parents pay for it in the later case. ALL of the K12 parents that *I'm* aware of here want it to TEACH their children.

 

I think you guys are talking at cross-purposes with what the author of the article is saying.

 

We tend to look at this as homeschoolers - why wouldn't we?  I don't have a dog in this race - I've never used K12, but I have used some of their materials (K12HO), and those are excellent.  OTOH, I think it's a farce that they use Powerspeak for foreign language. 

 

But that's neither here nor there.  The point I'm making is that the author is talking as a public school teachers about public school students - and no, she really isn't talking in any way about homeschoolers that decide to join a public charter and become technically psers.  She's talking about public school kids who for whatever reason end up getting enrolled in a virtual charter, and most likely have never even heard of homeschooling.  The kids are bullied, or bored, or skipping school, or troubled, or the ps wants them out because their test scores are dragging down the average.  She's talking about how they are targeting these kinds of kids, because they already expect practically zilch from school.   They are enrolling in a last-ditch attempt at a diploma.  Their parents may or may not be uninterested or uninvolved, but most likely are not able to help even if they wanted to, because of their own education, temperament, or work schedule, or a combination.  The virtual charter is being sold to them as "public school online" - and they expect the same level of involvement they had in ps.  The author is a high school English teacher, and is talking about a level of K12 that is only available with "teacher support".   She is complaining about their (not sure if K12 or her state's charter; I agree that's very unclear from the article) declared marketing practice of targeting these disadvantaged, disaffected kids, who need more support than they're getting IRL, taking their money and telling them this is a solution for their school problems, and she's saying that with a student-teacher ratio they obviously have absolutely no intention of even attempting to give these kids the support to make them successful.  They are just taking the money and running.

 

Anyway, that 29% or whatever graduation rate she references is not being driven by homeschoolers, who I'd guess are actually a tiny fragment of the K12 high school market.  I don't think I've ever heard of anyone even here that is doing K12 high school full-time.  Younger, yeah, not high school.  I've heard of people who K12 has worked great for, and people for whom it's a horrible fit - but all the people I know are homeschoolers, by definition moms who are invested in their kids' education.  The homeschoolers are probably the ones showing up, doing the work, and doing great.  Homeschoolers are not the majority kids in the K12 charters she's talking about (at least in the one she's talking about). 

 

Our state just opened their first K12 charter a few years ago.  It has hundreds of enrollees.  I don't know a single homeschool familiy that has signed up with it and stuck with it (usually they last less than a year).  Admittedly ours is really badly run, but it's still got a waiting list to enroll - and I'd guess a miniscule fraction of those people have ever identified as homeschoolers.

 

From their website, this is who they purport to serve with the charter - Current or wannabe homeschoolers, as you can see, are not even on the list!

 

  • Students with medical conditions that interfere with attendance, e.g. cancer, Crohn's, immune disorders
  • Students out of school due to pregnancy or parenting
  • Students with developmental, social-emotional, pedagogical, or unique individual learning needs well-served by the virtual school medium
  • Students who feel bullied or who are out of school due to other safety concerns
  • Students who seek an advanced course program not available in their assigned school
  • Students in training for competitive arts or sports whose days are used for training and practice
  • Other reasons of a compelling nature, not specifically identified above
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<p>I think you guys are talking at cross-purposes with what the author of the article is saying.We tend to look at this as homeschoolers - why wouldn't we? I don't have a dog in this race - I've never used K12, but I have used some of their materials (K12HO), and those are excellent. OTOH, I think it's a farce that they use Powerspeak for foreign language. But that's neither here nor there. The point I'm making is that the author is talking as a public school teachers about public school students - and no, she really isn't talking in any way about homeschoolers that decide to join a public charter and become technically psers. She's talking about public school kids who for whatever reason end up getting enrolled in a virtual charter, and most likely have never even heard of homeschooling. The kids are bullied, or bored, or skipping school, or troubled, or the ps wants them out because their test scores are dragging down the average. She's talking about how they are targeting these kinds of kids, because they already expect practically zilch from school. They are enrolling in a last-ditch attempt at a diploma. Their parents may or may not be uninterested or uninvolved, but most likely are not able to help even if they wanted to, because of their own education, temperament, or work schedule, or a combination. The virtual charter is being sold to them as "public school online" - and they expect the same level of involvement they had in ps. The author is a high school English teacher, and is talking about a level of K12 that is only available with "teacher support". She is complaining about their (not sure if K12 or her state's charter; I agree that's very unclear from the article) declared marketing practice of targeting these disadvantaged, disaffected kids, who need more support than they're getting IRL, taking their money and telling them this is a solution for their school problems, and she's saying that with a student-teacher ratio they obviously have absolutely no intention of even attempting to give these kids the support to make them successful. They are just taking the money and running.Anyway, that 29% or whatever graduation rate she references is not being driven by homeschoolers, who I'd guess are actually a tiny fragment of the K12 high school market. I don't think I've ever heard of anyone even here that is doing K12 high school full-time. Younger, yeah, not high school. I've heard of people who K12 has worked great for, and people for whom it's a horrible fit - but all the people I know are homeschoolers, by definition moms who are invested in their kids' education. The homeschoolers are probably the ones showing up, doing the work, and doing great. Homeschoolers are not the majority kids in the K12 charters she's talking about (at least in the one she's talking about). Our state just opened their first K12 charter a few years ago. It has hundreds of enrollees. I don't know a single homeschool familiy that has signed up with it and stuck with it (usually they last less than a year). Admittedly ours is really badly run, but it's still got a waiting list to enroll - and I'd guess a miniscule fraction of those people have ever identified as homeschoolers.From their website, this is who they purport to serve with the charter - Current or wannabe homeschoolers, as you can see, are not even on the list!

  • Students with medical conditions that interfere with attendance, e.g. cancer, Crohn's, immune disorders
  • Students out of school due to pregnancy or parenting
  • Students with developmental, social-emotional, pedagogical, or unique individual learning needs well-served by the virtual school medium
  • Students who feel bullied or who are out of school due to other safety concerns
  • Students who seek an advanced course program not available in their assigned school
  • Students in training for competitive arts or sports whose days are used for training and practice
  • Other reasons of a compelling nature, not specifically identified above

What website is that from?

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Her description of who enrolls in that particular virtual charter is VERY different from my experience with families who've had their kids in our local K12-affiliated charter.

My guess from her signature and her mention of Connecting Waters in the article that she may have taught in Antioch, CA or nearby.

 

ETA:

K12 does have a hybrid school in Morgan Hill for middle and high school called Silicon Valley Flex.  Not sure if its the same model as the one in SF. 

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Matryoshka is posting from a different link even though the meaning is about the same.  There is nothing mentioned in your link about pregnancy or parenting (her 2nd bullet point).  Below is the wording from the link you post

"Who Is This Intended For?

For a variety of reasons, many children simply do not thrive in a traditional classroom. These students include those who:

  • Are accelerated learners or are bored with the pace of their classroom lessons
  • Are interested in getting a head start on their college education

  • Want to prepare for college while gaining 21st-century workforce skills

  • Need more time than the standard classroom allows to master concepts
  • Feel they don't fit in, or are being bullied in their school environment
  • Are easily distracted in a classroom setting or have a learning challenge
  • Seek extra attention that's not easily found in many classrooms
  • Are homebound or undergoing medical treatments
  • Travel frequently or are uprooted throughout the year due to family situations
  • Are pursuing their dreams and careers in music, the arts, or in sports"
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Is it weird that this article got me curious and slightly interested in teaching for one of these virtual charter schools. If I could teach for money and still be home with my kids that would be awesome. I'm only thinking about for when they are a bit older though. The author just sounds like a bitter ex employee who could not hack it or didn't belong there in the first place (she states she started with a negative attitude about the job.)

 

She makes a good point about K12 being a for profit business put together by known financial backers but I have absolutely nothing wrong with for profit businesses. If it is the charter school she worked for that is the problem she should be calling them out not the K12 program. But she doesn't make that much clear in the article.

I would do it in a heartbeat if I could.

 

I agree she sounds like she couldn't hack it.

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DD is in the online charter for Calvert Academy this year, she has also seen a lot of kids not show up for classes but the program is designed so kids can watch the class discussions later if they need to. Dd has been enjoying the program.

 

We are taking some time off of regular homeschooling, last year was a bit rough for us. It is helping us get our bearings while still being involved in the local homeschool community.

 

In my state we have K12, Connections, as well as Calvert for online programs. There is also a more directly state-run online school. I have heard quite a few bad things about K12 from other people. 

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My guess from her signature and her mention of Connecting Waters in the article that she may have taught in Antioch, CA or nearby.

Connecting Waters is based out of Modesto I believe. So that's definitely a more low-income & urban student population than many of the other K12 charters.

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But the reason she couldn't "hack it" is because she found the fact that she couldn't serve her students very well too depressing to take.  The workload wasn't too much - though she mentions it was high for the low pay, that's not her main complaint.  It's that she was forced to pass students who shouldn't have because it's a business and because she couldn't help students who needed help and that frustrated her.

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But the reason she couldn't "hack it" is because she found the fact that she couldn't serve her students very well too depressing to take. The workload wasn't too much - though she mentions it was high for the low pay, that's not her main complaint. It's that she was forced to pass students who shouldn't have because it's a business and because she couldn't help students who needed help and that frustrated her.

I just don't know about passing students who should have been failed. I do know that has been going on in public schools forever. And in public schools teachers are often frustrated at being unable to help kids.

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She makes a good point about K12 being a for profit business put together by known financial backers but I have absolutely nothing wrong with for profit businesses.   

 

I don't have a problem with for profit businesses either.  Or even with for profit education businesses.  But I do have a problem with the government paying for a service - in this case, the education of public school students - when the service is subpar.  Her statement that students are being pushed into K12 and sold on the program and then not supported educationally is, to me, a problem in our education system.  If this was a company building roads for the government and only 27% of the roads were deemed good enough to drive on, I think we'd be up in arms.

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I just don't know about passing students who should have been failed. I do know that has been going on in public schools forever. And in public schools teachers are often frustrated at being unable to help kids.

 

Yes, schools have been passing kids and even helping them cheat for a long time.  But I do think it's easier to have safeguards when the mission of the school is education, not money.  Or when they're better government oversight.  In the case of K12, they take the students (and therefore the government's money) and then government relinquishes many of the ways in which they oversee traditional schools.

 

But her bigger complaint is that the very way that K12 works does not serve most students well.  Virtual education is being sold to the public as this great fix for our system.  It's supposed to be cheaper and work better.  Her assertion is that it doesn't work better and unless something major changes, that it simply cannot work better.

 

When parents who see themselves as homeschoolers do K12, I agree that it can work.  When parents who see themselves as public school parents oversee K12, I think her criticisms have a lot of merit.  States need to be careful about diving into virtual education as a solution for every kid.

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Thanks for the link. That page is specifically addressing using K12 through a public school, so they would not be able to discuss or target homeschoolers.

 

I have no doubt the bulk of their revenue is coming from public schools. But people don't have to go that route. They can buy it independently.

 

Yes, but we're discussing the article, I thought, not the merits of the K12 curriculum.  She was posting her experience as a teacher of a virtual public school charter, about how they were run administratively and how and to whom they marketed it.  This has absolutely nothing to do with whether people can buy K12 individually; of course they can, and it sounds like very much the better way to go (especially if you pick and choose courses).  But the people she was talking about them marketing it to were disadvantaged, and most could not afford to enroll individually even if they knew it were an option.  Charters are free public school.

 

I was pointing out that arguing the virtues of the latter has nothing to do with the former (although it sounds like she worked for a particularly horrid one).  It's apples and oranges.

 

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Yes, and it is a page for public virtual schools. So naturally they could not reach out to homeschoolers on that page.

 

Yes, that's my point.  She was only talking about public virtual schools - nowhere does she even mention the curriculum, just how her public virtual school was run.

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Is it weird that this article got me curious and slightly interested in teaching for one of these virtual charter schools. If I could teach for money and still be home with my kids that would be awesome. I'm only thinking about for when they are a bit older though.  The author just sounds like a bitter ex employee who could not hack it or didn't belong there in the first place (she states she started with a negative attitude about the job.)

 

You are a better person than I.  My brother and best friend are high school teachers (in regular b&m schools), and they spend their life grading - for ~150 students.  I went to the movies on Sunday with my dds and bf's dd.  Bf stayed at Barnes and Noble the whole time grading - she didn't have time for a movie.  She got through less than one class (and she has something like 5?).  And they're all the same test, so she just has to check one key.  And there are no essays (she's a science teacher).

 

The author is an English teacher - she was grading essays (they take so much more time to grade!), and the kids were working on all different assignments from the beginning, middle, and end of the courses, and she had up to 450 students.  Oh, and no summers off, and you have to be on call almost 24/7?  B&m teachers don't have to do that. No freaking way would I take that job.  Other K12 charters may well be run completely differently, but I don't think she was just whining about the one she worked for.

 

She pointed out the reason teachers could have so high a student ratio was that most kids didn't turn in their assignments, so not as much to actually grade. No teacher could actually grade papers well for 450 students. That's what she found not okay - kids weren't even turning stuff in, and they were using that stat to increase teachers' student load and pass kids through.  Ew.

 

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