by David Safier
I'm not sure exactly what this means, but the Monroe District in Washington State is laying off 15.75 teacher positions because of budget cuts. Of those, 12.3 positions are from Washington Virtual Academy (WAVA), one of the K12 Inc. network of online/virtual schools. It sounds like WAVA is overstaffed, meaning it hasn't attracted as many students as were projected.
Monroe School District is one of three Washington districts sponsoring WAVA, which, I take it, means the school budget comes from the district, giving it hiring/firing rights. In Arizona, most charters, like our own K12 Inc. school, Arizona Virtual Academy AZVA), are sponsored by the state Charter School Board.
To put this information in context:
- K12 Inc. is a publicly traded, for profit corporation which runs online schools across the country.
- Nationally, about one-third of its students leave every year, so it has to conduct constant, aggressive recruitment campaigns just to stay even.
- K12 Inc's advertised student-teacher ratio is 50-to-1, which is more than twice that of most brick-and-mortar schools, but some reporters have found ratios to be in the 100-to-1 and even 200-to-1 range.
- Arizona's K12 Inc. school, Arizona Virtual Academy, is on academic probation with the state and could be shut down if its scores on achievement tests don't improve.
- Craig Barrett, ex-Intel CEO and Jan Brewer's go-to guy for "education reform" in Arizona, is one of eight members of K12 Inc.'s Board of Directors. Though he talks about his affiliation with BASIS Schools every chance he gets, I have never heard him mention his prominent position in K12 Inc. I have also never heard of a journalist questioning him about the problems with AZVA when he brags about the successes of BASIS.