by David Safier
Craig Barrett, ex-Intel CEO and Brewer's point man on "education reform," is a regular speaker on the national "school choice" circuit. Here's what he said at the American Federation For Children’s Annual Summit Thursday.
“We have to be willing,” Barrett said, “to shut down schools that aren’t working. We have to be ruthless, and I’m hopeful we’ll have enough pragmatism to do that.”
Case in point: Barrett sits on the Board of Directors of the for profit, publicly traded K12 Inc. The corporation's online schools have been the subject of any number of investigative reports, most of which show they are low performing when it comes to academic achievement and have a yearly student turnover (churn) rate of 33% or more. The schools' student-to-teacher ratio, which is advertised at 50-to-1 (already more double the usual ratio), is often more like 100-to-1 or 200-to-1. The corporation is being sued for falsely inflating student achievement scores in reports to stockholders. And the schools are notorious for questionable recruiting practices designed to enroll students even if they are unsuited to the online education environment.
Oh, and the K12 Inc. school in Barrett's home state, Arizona Virtual Academy, which has an enrollment in the 4,000 student range, is on academic probation with the state Charter School Board.
Mr. Barrett, should Arizona Virtual Academy and other failing online schools run by K12 Inc. be ruthlessly, pragmatically shut down? If not, what are you, as an "expert" on education with a national reputation, doing to make sure the problems with your corporation are being exposed, and what are you doing as a Board member to make sure the problems are being corrected?