Echoing the charter school accountability movement in California, two U.S. senators are following the state’s lead by requesting U.S. Government Accountability Office (GAO) bring greater scrutiny to what has become a veiled, private, for-profit school industry in the U.S. In the movement’s 2016 infancy, California State Attorney General Kamala Harris sued K12 Online Charter Incorporated for a host of violations that included grossly overinflated virtual attendance numbers. The company settled the claim for 168 million dollars.
Given the ongoing pattern of proliferation of online charter schools across the country, Senators Sherrod Brown and Patty Murray have requested the GAO investigate the industry to ensure taxpayer dollars are appropriately spent on our students. In their request, they cite continuous bad-actor K12 Incorporated that paid 20 million dollars- or 3.3 million each on average- to just six of its top executives in 2017.
The senator’s GAO request also included concerns about teacher-student class numbers, accommodations for English Language Learners and disabled students, actual time spent on tasks and learning, access to school counselors, how much tax money is received and spent by for-profit charters, vendor conflicts of interest, and how student accountability metrics are applied to measure student growth.
The for-profit charter school industry is now a multi-billion dollar business. This shift, however slight, marks a move toward greater accountability for dollars spent educating our citizens. It is long overdue.
Link here to the Senators request on Virtual Charters.
Link here to the Education Week Article.