Mary Gifford's picture

Responding to NEPC’s Virtual Schools Report – Part 2

By:  Mary Gifford and Jeff Kwitowski

In Part 1, we examined the NEPC’s data compared to data from K12-managed online public schools. Now, let’s look at NEPC’s recommendations.

It is clear that the NEPC remains unfamiliar with many of the reporting requirements, regulatory processes and operations of full-time online public schools.  Several of their recommendations are already addressed in state regulation or statute. In most cases, these recommendations are covered by charter school authorizing practices, annual external independent audits and reporting requirements to state departments of education.

Mary Gifford's picture

Responding to NEPC’s Virtual Schools Report – Part 1

By: Mary Gifford & Jeff Kwitowski

The National Education Policy Center (NEPC), an organization largely funded by the nation’s most powerful teachers’ unions, recently released its annual "Virtual Schools in the U.S. 2014" paper. NEPC is well-known for its ideological opposition to charter schools and parent choice in education.

In this report, NEPC offers 16 recommendations. Five of the recommendations already exist within the regulatory/legal/authorizing guidelines in most states and two are not supported by data or research. Seven of the recommendations hold promise for improving the success of online schools and the individual success of the hundreds of thousands of students enrolled in these schools (More on these recommendations in Part 2 )

However, before these recommendations can be considered, it is important to examine the accuracy of data in the NEPC report. It is reasonable to assume that an advocacy organization like the NEPC would position data to advance their ideological views.

Mary Gifford's picture

What the AFT does not want you to know about K12

The US News and World Report writes that one of the country’s largest and most powerful lobby unions, the American Federation of Teachers (AFT) – along with a political group called, In The Public Interest --launched a new website taking aim at public charter schools.  In the first of what appears to be a series of attacks on parent choice in education, the AFT-financed project specifically targets educational services providers, including K12 Inc., that provide curriculum and academic services to public charter schools.  They are apparently agitated that “for-profit” companies are servicing public schools.

However, the real issue is not that “for profits” are involved in education, (after all, private companies have been providing essential products and services to public schools for decades:  e.g. textbooks, computers, IT, construction, furniture, you name it!) it is that public charter schools disrupt the status quo by expanding options for students and empowering parents with the freedom to choose. As K12’s Jeff Kwitowski told the US News and World Report, “It is unfortunate the AFT is pushing an ‘us vs. them’ narrative, rather than focusing on working together to improve public education to help meet the educational needs of every child.  Not every child is the same.  Children need options in education.  Powerful lobbying organizations that actively oppose educational choice are at odds with parents who want the freedom to choose public school programs for their children.”

Nate Davis's picture

K12 Chairman and CEO Nate Davis on National School Choice Week

K12 Chairman and CEO stands with Newark Prep students moments before ringing the opening bell at the NY Stock Exchange. Click to view full size.

K12 Chairman and CEO stands with Newark Prep students moments before ringing the opening bell at the NY Stock Exchange.

On Monday January 27th, I joined eight remarkable students and a dedicated group of teachers, parents and school leaders from the Newark (NJ) Prep Charter School to ring the opening bell of the New York Stock Exchange and kick-off a nationwide bell-ringing celebration in support of school choice. We were also joined by representatives from National School Choice Week and parent leaders from

You can watch the bell ringing ceremony here.

National School Choice Week is America's largest-ever series of education-related events, focusing on expanding education options for all children. Events stretched from New York City to California and spotlighted the importance of having choices in education and empowering parents with the freedom to decide on the school best suited for their children.

Mary Futrell's picture

Digital Learning Models Should Be Open To All

Throughout my career, I’ve witnessed our nation’s struggle to ensure equal access and opportunity for children in public education.  I saw it firsthand when, in the early 1960’s, I taught at the segregated Parker Gray High School in Alexandria, Virginia, and later at the George Washington High School when I was working to integrate the teaching staff during the height of the civil rights era.