Jeff Kwitowski's picture

Welcome To Hotel California

In an editorial on Monday, The Wall Street Journal characterized the California Attorney General’s now-concluded investigation into K12 Inc. and the 11 California Virtual Academies (CAVA) as a coordinated ambush targeting K12 and the online charters schools after they dared to resist the California Teachers Association’s (CTA) unionization campaign.  (Read the entire WSJ editorial here.)

In 2014, the CTA launched its unionization campaign of the CAVA schools.  Over the next 2+ years the teachers union spared no expense, marshalled all of its political allies, spun the media, and hurled dozens of allegations against K12 and CAVA schools no matter how unfounded. The union fired every arrow in its quiver. 

In early 2015, the CTA recruited several state legislators, all recipients of the union’s massive political campaign war chest, to pressure the CAVA schools to bow to the union’s demands.  When that failed, the union crafted a bill aimed at shutting down the CAVA schools and other charters that contract with private providers.  The CTA was successful lobbying it through the Legislature, but Governor Brown vetoed it in September 2015.  Shortly thereafter, Attorney General Harris launched her investigation into so-called “for profit virtual schools” (public virtual schools in California are nonprofits).

K12 Inc.'s picture

GWUOHS Student Foils The Competition

GWUOHS Student Stefani Deschner (left) takes her opponent down

When George Washington University Online High School (GWUOHS) rising senior Stefani Deschner was younger, she used to put a fencing mask on one of her stuffed animals and practice drills on it.

Years later, Stefani, now 17, is the third-best female fencer in the world under the age of 20 after winning the bronze medal at the Cadet World Championships.

“Fencing, or foil, is usually known as ‘the sport with swords,’ but it’s a lot more than that,” she explained. “It’s played with two people that are both holding blunted instruments who have to hit each other in certain target areas. There is a referee that judges who has the ‘right of way,’ and you gain points when you hit the other person. Whoever gets to 15 points first is the winner.”

K12 Inc.'s picture

MNVA Entrepreneur Runs Own Business at Age 16

MNVA student Mary Knack with horses Freedom's Flame and Flynn

An entrepreneurial spirit, a love of horses, and a flexible yet rigorous education: that’s the recipe for Minnesota Virtual Academy (MNVA) student Mary Knack’s success. Mary, who runs her own tacking business at the age of 16, will be taking two horses to the Wright County Fair for 4-H open shows July 27th- 31st.

Mary began dressage and jumping lessons at 7 years old and became interested in training horses by 12 years old. She was wildly successful. There were just two important factors to ensure her continued equine success: money and excellent time management. To solve the first, Mary started her business, Equine Essentials. As for the latter, Mary attends MNVA and is able to complete her schoolwork at night, when she is most focused.

Ashley Fryer's picture

Debunking the "Perfect" Student Myth

I have actually said to many different Learning Coaches, “I would love to have 100 students just like yours in my classroom!” I’ve meant it every single time. Yet, the students I would love to have don’t all fit into the same mold. Here are some common statements about the “perfect” student that simply don’t transfer to the virtual setting:

The perfect student should always be in class from 8:00am-3:30pm, never being absent or tardy. In our virtual setting, students can watch a recording from a previously held live session. I have many amazing students who miss class occasionally due to world travel, medical issues, training, etc. They learn on their schedule, including nights and weekends.

The perfect student should be dressed conservatively. Clothing, hair color, and even body art for some high school students is a way to express themselves. In traditional schools, clothing may be a modesty issue- which I can understand. But, I do not agree that a student’s hair color or piercings hinders others from learning. I also don’t think a student who prefers to dress more modestly should be judged by peers as “uncool” because they are conservative. In the online setting, the guardians decide what is appropriate for their child to wear to class- what a novel idea!

K12 Inc.'s picture

How this K12-Powered Kayaker Expertly Navigates School and Sport

Evy Leibfarth competes in the European Canoeing Association Junior Cup

Not many people can say they competed in the Olympic Trials and the European World Cup Series - at the age of 12! K12 International Academy (iCademy) student Evy Leibfarth came in sixth place at the 2016 U.S. Olympic Team Trials for Canoe/Kayak Slalom in April, then won all five of the races in which she competed in the European Canoeing Association (ECA) Junior Cup this summer.

Evy began schooling with iCademy two years ago to pursue her passion for kayaking, as well as to challenge herself academically.

Katie Poindexter's picture

How an "Education Marketplace" Benefits Everyone


On a recent trip to my local grocery store I was overwhelmed by the number of options I had for various products. Laundry detergent, for example. I counted 12 different brands and 27 different varieties of laundry detergent - with bleach, without bleach, for HE machines, with softener. All able to do the same job - clean my family’s clothes. The number of options made me realize that choices surround us every day. Which store I shop at, which products I purchase, which gas station I go to, which gas I buy, where I eat, the food I order - a world of choices for these everyday frivolous things. Yet we are given few options on the matters that mean the most to the majority of Americans - presidential candidates, health insurance coverage, public education.

A good friend and colleague from the Virginia Virtual Academy, Elizabeth Clark, best explains some of our students and the current educational system as “trying to fit a square peg in a round hole.” These students don’t fit into the “one size fits all” public schools that so many politicians (those that think they know our children’s educational needs best) leave as the only option in some states. Parents seeking educational options ultimately have one common goal - they want their child to be successful. In a recent Manifesto on the current state of ed reform, Jeanne Allen, founder of the Center for Education Reform, wrote, “The greatest opportunity for improving student motivation comes from personalized learning.” Personalized learning - a great concept, attempted but rarely successful in the brick and mortar classroom. How do you truly personalize learning in one environment - the classroom - with one curriculum - likely on the same grade level - in 60 minutes or less? A brick and mortar teacher unquestionably does his/her best, but with the resources and time given, truly personalized learning will not take place for most students. So what is the key to working towards more personalized learning?

K12 Inc.'s picture

Georgia Cyber Academy Student Makes Her “Big League” Singing Debut


Chloe McSwain performs the National Anthem at an Atlanta Braves game.

“And now, from the Georgia Cyber Academy, Chloe McSwain!”

After this welcoming introduction boomed over the loudspeakers at Turner Field, GCA’s own rising star began her beautiful rendition of the National Anthem at an Atlanta Braves game on Friday, July 15th.

“It was a surreal experience,” Chloe said. “I’m so grateful for the opportunity.” Chloe, a rising 11th grader from Cumming, Georgia, was invited to sing at the Braves game after a recruiter noticed her talent at her GCA graduation performance.

K12 Inc.'s picture

How Flexibility Helps This NVVA Gymnast Chase Her Olympic Dreams

Isabelle Richardson competing in Ribbon event.

"Flexibility” is what it’s all about for Nevada Virtual Academy (NVVA) 6th grader Isabelle Richardson. It’s what has allowed her to become an elite rhythmic gymnast and also how she’s been able to achieve academically through virtual schooling. “You can go faster or slower with the personalized lessons – they keep up with you,” shares the three-time national champion, who divides her time between the USA Elite Squad and her studies.

Spotted when she was very young at her older sister’s ballet lesson, Isabelle’s remarkable physical agility caught the eye of another student’s parent, who suggested she try contortionism. After learning about rhythmic gymnastics, a form of the sport that combines traditional gymnastics with dance, Isabelle joined a local gym and hasn’t stopped since.

Jennifer Richardson's picture

Virtual Education – It Works for the Military!

As a virtual educator, I’m often questioned about the validity of such an approach with students in kindergarten through 12th grade. “Can kids really learn online? How can you possibly tell if they are doing anything? Aren’t they just at home playing games all day long?” The answers are simple:  Yes, Technology, and No.

On a recent flight home from Washington, D.C., I sat next to a gentleman who handles education and training for members of the United States Military… and guess how they do it? Virtually.  The U.S. Military is an excellent example of the power of virtual education and blended learning programs. We are all familiar with the concept of boot camp, and it conjures up images of men and women doing hundreds of pushups and trudging through the mud while being barked orders from a gruff, drill instructor. While this is certainly an aspect of military training, we civilians may be unaware of the high-tech 21st century addition of online training programs and the gamification of real-world scenarios. What is the value of this online training? Why not just buy these cadets an Xbox or take them out for a game of laser tag? The answer is information. Military leaders and trainers get a wealth of information from watching new enlistments interact with their more traditional training programs and with their game simulations. They know who excels in certain areas, and who needs extra support in others. They can even pinpoint appropriate career paths thanks to powerful algorithms and a wealth of essential data.

Let’s face it, if we have technology that is smart enough to show us advertisements on Facebook for a product we’ve just viewed on Amazon, we certainly have technology smart enough to help us to really know our learners.

Elizabeth Nelson's picture

Why I Left a Traditional Public School to Teach at a Virtual School

Two years ago I began a new adventure in my education career, teaching middle school math for a virtual school.  I had experience teaching in a variety of school settings.  I taught at an inner-city high school, a secured residential facility for students aged 12-19, a small charter high school for at-risk students, and a rural high school.  I’m one of those crazy people that is always looking for a new challenge because I am bored easily.  A good teacher friend of mine told me about the virtual charter school that she was teaching for and encouraged me to check it out.  Here is what I have discovered.

Professional Growth Opportunities
I had recently finished my third college degree, a Master’s degree in Educational Leadership & Administration with a goal to eventually become a school leader.  At the time, I was working for a rural high school on the far edge of the Phoenix area.  There were not a lot of schools in the district, which limited the availability of administrative positions.  As a mom with four young children, it was important to me to work near my home.