A Closer Look at Critics of Online Public Schools

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1 A Closer Look at Critics of Online Public Schools By Deborah D. Thornton Research From the Center for School Options Introduction Non-traditional public schools and school choice options have been proving their value for more than a decade. Yet despite documented success, these school options continue to face stiff resistance from entrenched factions in the traditional education establishment. Among their most stubborn opponents is organized labor, specifically the teachers unions. As a powerful, well-funded, force in state and national politics these unions are engaged in a continuous battle to resist educational reform and defend the status quo. Financed by millions of dollars taken from teachers paychecks, the unions contribute heavily to local, state, and federal elected officials. Education associations (as teachers unions often call themselves) also underwrite thinktanks and university affiliated academics that attack innovative reforms. The unions are also an important source of funding for the foundations that support those academics. In this Research Report, the Center for School Options examines the financial and other links between the unions and the critics who have attacked digital learning and online public schools innovative reforms that are the nexus connecting 21st century technology, school choice, and public school options that are meeting the needs of today s students. 1

2 Action and Reaction: The Story of School Choice Options Since the alarm sounded almost 30 years ago by publication of the 1983 A Nation at Risk report by the National Commission On Excellence In Education little has been accomplished to make fundamental improvements in schools and stem America s declining educational attainment. 1 Today Americans are competing against a global workforce that s becoming better educated every year. Meanwhile, our children s education test scores are slipping, and America has lost its global lead and bragging rights as the country sending the highest percentage of young people to college. 2 Fully one quarter of U.S. students don t finish high school, and 30 percent of those who do graduate don t do well enough in math, science, and English to serve in the military. 3 A significant number of graduates are not considered college ready. Nationally, in African American and Hispanic communities, over a third of high school students never receive diplomas. 4 In response to parental dissatisfaction with failing public schools and demands for more public school options to address students unique learning needs, state lawmakers have ushered in an unprecedented era of school reform over the past decade. Across the elementary and secondary education landscape there has been a proliferation of public charter schools, public online schools, open-enrollment policies, and school choice programs such as tuition scholarships. In many states and communities these reforms have for the first time truly empowered parents to make personal decisions about their children s needs, and where to send their children to school. Parents enthusiasm is reflected in the impressive growth of school choice options, as documented below. Approximately 250,000 students, from 30 states, were enrolled in fulltime online K-12 public schools during the school year, compared to about 50,000 ten years earlier, and a 25 percent increase over the previous year. 5 Over 2 million public school students are enrolled in public charter schools, in 41 states and the District of Columbia, as of the fall of Twenty states permit students to open-enroll in a public school outside their residential district. 7 Eleven states currently offer scholarship tax credit programs, serving over 125,000 students in These states are as varied as Arizona, Florida, Indiana, Iowa, Oklahoma, Pennsylvania, and Rhode Island; where students can access statesupported tax-credit tuition scholarships to enroll in a private school. 8 However, to quote Newton s Third Law of Motion, For every action, there is always an opposite and equal reaction. These reforms, and others, have frequently been opposed by powerful vested interests with a stake in keeping students enrolled in the traditional public education monopoly. State laws historically required every child within a specified geographic area to report to a districtsponsored public brick and mortar school building for a structured 180 days of prescribed and uniform class periods. While this system has served, and continues to serve many students sufficiently well, it increasingly struggles to ensure every student access to an adequate 21st-century education. Further, despite its chronic failings, the incumbent system is strongly defended by those who have historically thrived there: school administrators and their unionized teaching faculties. Over the past year defenders of the status quo have increasingly waged their battle against school options in the pages of the nation s newspapers. Of particular note were sensational stories first published in fringe media such as Mother Jones, and then picked up by national newspapers such as The New York Times and The Washington Post which purported to investigate the operations and success of public online schools. 9 These unbalanced and inaccurate stories spawned similar articles in many state and local newspapers. Headlines from stories attacking online schools support the narrative opponents of online schools have long advanced, for example: Online schools make big profits from tax dollars, 10 Study raises questions about virtual schools, 11 Virtual charter schools in Wisconsin not making the grade, 12 and Parents, be cautious in moving your child s education online. 13 But neither the headlines nor the narrative is based in fact. Sound journalism would have balanced the reported criticism with the facts about online schools. 2

3 The Facts about Online Public Schools More than half the states in the U.S. (30) have statewide online public schools. 14 Online education has been available in some form for at least ten years now, moving from a novelty to a serious educational option. Online public schools in the form of online charter schools and multi-district online schools are enrolling students at a record pace. As evidence of this demand from students and parents some states show 50 percent growth year over year from 2010 to Indiana, Maine, and Tennessee recently acted to either begin allowing, or to expand, their fulltime, online schools. 16 In particular in 2011 the Indiana Legislature passed House Bill 1002, which ended their pilot program and moved to allow virtual charter schools as of the school year. 17 While not intended or best suited for every student, online public schools deliver personalized, flexible instruction that is proving highly effective for many students individual learning needs. Online schools are especially helpful to both gifted and talented students, and those with special needs or health issues. Flexibility is an important aspect of their needs. In case of social problems such as bullying or dangerous schools, online education can be a lifesaver. Students from both rural and urban areas can find online schools useful often neither one can take the classes they need and want in a traditional setting. Finally, in some cases online schools also represent the only school choice accessible to hundreds of thousands of parents looking for a public school that is a better option for their children s education. The Critics of Online Public Schools Versus the Facts Throughout the campaign against online public schools, the same charges voiced by critics remain consistent. Proponents of online public schools have long refuted these attacks, so I will deal with them quickly in this paper: Critics Claim: Online schools are for-profit concerns unduly diverting taxpayer dollars. The Facts: Online public schools are not for-profit schools. They are non-profit public schools governed by independent, non-profit boards (school district boards or public charter school boards), who are contracting with a vendor to provide the curriculum and management services. The vendor is not the school, the vendor is the education service provider. The online school is a non-profit, accredited public school. The United States spends over $500 billion a year to educate students in the public school system, with much of this money being spent with profit-making businesses. For decades these districts have paid private, for-profit providers for products and services. Billions of dollars of taxpayers money is used for products and services such as school construction, busing, food, textbooks, computers and technology, and instructional services. 18 These companies, some major, national corporations such as McGraw-Hill and Scholastic, all make a profit providing a service in exchange for taxpayer dollars. Others are local, small businesses who provide such services as lawn mowing, electrical and plumbing repairs, bus drivers, instrument repair, or food products. Companies that provide curriculum, staffing, or other support for nonprofit public online schools are in the same category as these traditional and accepted suppliers. 3

4 Critics Claim: Public school options create a dual system of education. The Facts: Statewide online public schools are helping hundreds of thousands of students of all backgrounds succeed. 19 Children with special needs or medical conditions and those struggling in traditional classrooms are part of this group. So are victims of bullying, violence, or other negative social issues in traditional schools. Online education also often benefits advanced learners, kids who are frequently bored by the regimented pace and one-size-fits-all teaching approach of traditional schools. Critics Claim: Many public online schools are poor quality and have academic failings. The Facts: There is evidence that in many instances online public schools outperform many brick and mortar schools. A 2010 U.S. Department of Education report concluded students in online conditions performed modestly better, on average, than those learning the same material through traditional face-to-face instruction. 20 The teachers providing the education in online schools are licensed and certified just as their counterparts in traditional brick and mortar schools. Additionally, the academic failings of many traditional public schools are well documented. Students who enroll in alternative public education options are often seeking an alternative school because their educational needs were not being met and their test scores reflect unsatisfactory educational attainment. Often the analysis of school success, as the teacher s unions are quick to point out, does not reflect the growth of the individual student as much as the results of previous lost time. If a student comes to an online public school already behind in achievement, the evaluation should be based on their individual growth over time. The point is that cookie-cutter educational approaches do not work and options are needed to address students differing learning needs. Critics Claim: Students lack adequate opportunities to learn through social interactions. The Facts: Studies show that students in online schools are as well socialized as students in traditional schools. 21 In fact, many students who suffer negative social experiences in traditional schools find healthy and positive socialization in online schools. Beyond the virtual classroom, online schools offer social opportunities for students such as field trips, school clubs, and other extracurricular activities very much like traditional schools. 22 As just one example, the Indiana Connections Academy offers group eco-tours, cultural, history, government, and math/science field trip opportunities, as well as volunteer and service activities, robotics, debate, chess, and other clubs. 23 Critics Claim: Taxpayer money is being diverted to business purposes as opposed to academic objectives. The Facts: About 80 percent of online school funds go to costs related to student instruction. This compares favorably to traditional brick and mortar schools. 24 Online public schools, just like their brick and mortar counterparts, have overhead and administrative expenses including promoting the school so that students and parents are aware of their options. In the context of higher education it has long been common practice for colleges and universities to advertise to inform the marketplace of the choices that exist. 4

5 A Closer Look at the Critics Our research has found that mainstream journalists seeking critics to give voice to the attacks on online public schools tend to rely on the usual suspects. With predictable uniformity, the authors of news stories look to three recurring sources: elected public officials more often than not Democrats who failed at legislating against public online schools, school district administrators, and finally so called academics, affiliated with academic institutions or think tanks. All three types of critics have vested financial interests in siding with the leading opponents of school choice options: the teachers unions. One of the largest of these unions, the National Education Association (NEA) has gone so far as to warn on its website of the pitfalls of distance education. It also expresses its concern over the growth of cyber-charters. 25 The NEA website further expands on the criticisms discussed above saying, Some of the schools are run by for-profit businesses; many of the customers are home-schooled kids taught by their parents, rather than a certified instructor. This was according to NEA technology representative Barbara Stein. 26 Stein s misrepresentation about the role of the certified teachers in online schools is consistent with the unions priority that teachers rather than students are the primary concern. Irrespective of the NEA s position, online teachers are as certified as any other teacher. As Albert Shanker, longtime president of the American Federation of Teachers has been quoted time and again as saying, When schoolchildren start paying union dues, that s when I ll start representing the interests of schoolchildren. 27 The Critics: University Academics and Think Tanks The financial stake some elected officials and school district administrators have in attacking school options is clear, as we shall see. Less obvious are the financial ties to organized labor of many academics who criticize online schools. Journalists searching for critical opinions can find ready sources with a simple Google search. Three frequently quoted critics of offering students choices are academics Gene Glass and Kevin Welner of the National Education Policy Center and Gary Miron, professor of education at Western Michigan University. While these four researchers hold themselves out to be disinterested, objective academics whose opinions are based on unbiased research, a closer examination of who funds their work reveals that they have a strong financial link to the same unions that have made rolling back school choice options a central priority. They all have close and overlapping financial ties to think tanks supported by two teachers unions; the National Education Policy Center and Great Lakes Center for Education Research and Practice. The Great Lakes Center for Educational Research and Practice The Great Lakes Center for Education Research and Practice describes itself as an independent 501(c)(3) non-profit organization supported by education stakeholders across the country who believe that education policy and practice should be based on high quality academic research. 28 However, The Great Lakes Center members include the National Education Association and state education affiliate associations in Illinois, Indiana, Michigan, Minnesota, Ohio, and Wisconsin representing nearly 600,000 union members. All 13 trustees of the center are officials of the NEA or state teachers unions. 29 5

6 National Education Policy Center (NEPC) National Education Policy Center (NEPC) is based at the University of Colorado, Boulder. NEPC purports its mission to be producing and disseminating high-quality, peer-reviewed research to inform education policy discussions. 30 In addition to receiving undisclosed contracts and grants, the union-backed Great Lakes Center for Education Research and Practice, and the National Education Association also fund NEPC. 31 NEPC s Director is Kevin Welner, who serves on the Board of Directors of National Education Association Foundation. A recent NEPC study, Online K-12 Schooling In The U.S.: Uncertain Private Ventures In Need of Public Regulation, is co-authored by Welner and Glass, and funded by the Great Lakes Center. It continues their typical agenda-driven approach and advocates for significant additional regulatory control. 32 Gene V. Glass The outspoken Gene Glass serves as NEPC s Senior Researcher. Glass, a Regent s Professor Emeritus at Arizona State University, has been one of the primary researchers cited in anti-online education articles. 33 On behalf of NEPC he recently co-authored with Kevin Welner (see below) a study funded by the union backed Great Lakes Center (discussed above) that was largely critical of public online schools and called for a dramatic increase in regulatory restrictions. This report in part updated similar earlier union supported studies authored by Dr. Glass. Kevin G. Welner Gene Glass s co-author, Kevin G. Welner, is Director of the National Education Policy Center, and is another academic often quoted by the media as a subject matter expert on school choice. 34 In addition to his position with NEPC, Dr. Welner serves on the Board of Directors of the NEA Foundation. 35 The NEA Foundation describes itself as an independent, public charity supported by contributions from educators (union) dues, corporate sponsors, and others supporting public education initiatives. 36 In a reinforcing conflict of interest circle, Dr. Welner is on the board and staff of the organizations funding his work, which are funded by the teachers unions, and uses the money to write reports advocating for more union control of our children s education. Gary Miron Online school critic Gary Miron is a professor of education at Western Michigan University. Miron was co-author of a report produced by the union backed National Education Policy Center (NEPC) that said students enrolled in K12 Inc. s Virtual Academy were lagging behind traditional schools in math and science. In this July 2012, report Miron reiterated the call for states to curb the growth of full-time virtual schools until they can demonstrate dramatically improved academic results. The media release, titled Report Shows Students Attending K12 Inc. Cyber Schools Fall Behind, said the study recommends policymakers move forward cautiously and only after piloting and thoroughly vetting new ideas. 37 In summary, the integrity of the researchers and the validity of their findings are tainted when the leading critics of the schools they are studying principally support the work. To appreciate the integrity question involved here, just imagine a hypothetical situation in which Coca-Cola funded a study by academic researchers that found Pepsi was dangerous to consumers health. The findings would be viewed with skepticism and certainly not reported without a caveat noting the researchers funding from Coca-Cola. A similar level of skepticism and full disclosure reporting is needed when the media publicize the opinions of online learning critics. 6

7 Lack Of Data Doesn t Slow The Critics Not only do academics announce questionable study findings; they also publicize non-existent findings. The results of a study conducted by the National Education Policy Center (NEPC) and announced this summer purported to show scores slipping for students in schools serviced by K12, Inc., a national leader in online learning. A NEPC release distributed to the media in Idaho said the students enrolled in schools serviced by K12, Inc. were falling behind their traditional school peers in math and reading. Closer examination of the report by the staff of The Idaho Statesman, however, revealed little or no data on students enrolled in Idaho schools serviced by K12, Inc. 38 According to the The Idaho Statesman, Gary Miron, the Western Michigan University professor, who co-wrote the report, said the information on students on Idaho students enrolled in Idaho schools serviced by K12, Inc. was unavailable at the time the Center did its analysis. NEPC Director Kevin G. Welner later apologized to the newspaper for the Idaho bungle. He told the paper he had not seen the release before it went out. Eventually, the Washington, D.C. PR firm that produced the release admitted the Idaho reference had been a mistake and said it would issue a correction, according to The Idaho Statesman. The staff of The Idaho Statesman were responsibly doing their job to verify information and ensure credible reporting. Were the reporters of other newspapers, in other states, as thorough? The Critics: Elected Public Officials Charged with drafting, voting on, and implementing legislation that affects public education, elected public officials are on the leading edge of the school options debate. Many have strong ties to teachers unions and public school administrators in their states. Below are quotes from several elected officials, as reported by the media, questioning online public schools. Beneath their quoted comments are notes on their financial contributions as reported by National Institute On Money In State Politics and VoteSmart.org. 39 Colorado State Senate President Brandon Shaffer (D-Longmont) We re bleeding money to a program that doesn t work, Shaffer said after being informed of the I-News/EdNews findings earlier this month. 40 Union Support: A wide variety of teachers unions, including the Colorado Education Association (CEA), and individuals involved with education have contributed more than $55,000 to Senator Shaffer s political campaigns since There are multiple ties between Shaffer and the educational establishment, which in part explain his motivations in attacking public online schools. For example Senator Shaffer s wife, Jessicca, works for the St. Vrain Valley School District and serves as a Colorado Education Association representative from her school. She also sits on the St. Vrain Valley Education Association Board of Directors. Finally, Mrs. Shaffer also represents the Two Rivers UniServ Unit on the CEA Board of Directors. Iowa State Senator Tom Courtney (D-Burlington) But the debate over the two schools in question is about whether we want to hand over the education of thousands of Iowa children to for-profit, out-of-state companies that will rely on 100 percent online classes, said Courtney. 42 7

8 Union Support: Sen. Courtney has received $1,900 over three election cycles from educational interest groups and individuals. 43 He is a former UAW member, and has received almost $38,500 in union contributions while in office. In 2012 he received almost $4,500 from both national and local labor unions. 44 Additionally, in the last two years Courtney received $36,483 through in-kind contributions from the Iowa Democrat Party. A large amount of the money received and spent by the Iowa Democrat Party in 2012 originated with the Iowa State Education Association (ISEA). The total for the 2012 election cycle was over $600, Further, almost 100 percent of the ISEA political action committee donations continue to go the Democrat state party and Democrat candidates who support their antischool choice and online education positions. Courtney has also served on the Burlington, Iowa school board. Pennsylvania State Auditor General Jack Wagner (D-Pittsburgh) It s extremely unfair for the taxpayer to be paying for additional expenses, such as advertising, Mr. Wagner said. 46 Union Support: Beginning with the 2004 election cycle, Mr. Wagner received more than $80,000 in campaign contributions from teachers unions. 47 Tennessee Representative Mike Stewart (D-Nashville) The virtual school bill just provides a method whereby these for-profit companies can take Tennessee tax dollars and put it in their pockets, Stewart said. 48 Union Support: Since 2008, teachers unions and public school teachers have contributed more than $8,000 to Representative Stewart. 49 Virginia State Senator George L. Barker (D-Fairfax County) Clearly, it s not a logical or equitable system. It s a horrible deal for taxpayers. 50 Union Support: Sen. Barker received $25,000 during the 2011 election cycle from contributors in the government agencies/education/other sector according to Votesmart.org. 51 There are other examples, from a wide variety of states. That of Mr. Wagner is most egregious. Despite the obvious and publicly disclosed financial ties between the anti-school choice options teachers unions and these elected officials, journalists treat these officials as neutral, objective commentators on the validity and effectiveness of public online schools. At the very least, responsible journalists should report these financial ties when quoting these individuals as unbiased policy sources. The Critics: School Administrators Administrators of public school districts are another frequently cited source in negative online public school articles. When thought of as CEOs of monopolies, their anti-competitive point of view comes as no surprise. The first instinct of any defender of a monopoly is to attack a new innovative entrant in the marketplace, not to compete. Similarly, instead of responding to the innovation and choice brought by the presence of an online school by improving their own educational offerings, school administrators have attacked the quality of their new competitors. You need only to follow the money to understand why. 8

9 In the minds of many administrators, students are not wards to be educated. Instead, students represent enrollments valued for the public dollars they bring to a traditional school budget s bottom line. The larger the budget, the larger the administrator s salary and benefits. Below are comments reported in the media from several district administrators questioning online education. St. Vrain (Colorado) Superintendent Don Haddad The St. Vrain School District in Longmont lost 70 students to GOAL last year after heavy recruiting by the online program. These institutions, what they do is borderline unethical behavior in my mind, said Haddad, who claims to support online learning as a tool. 52 The Facts: St. Vrain Valley s ACT scores fell in 2012, with fewer than half of district graduates reaching benchmark scores in math or science. Haddad, who was promoted into his current job in 2008 at a salary of $175,000, called the ACT scores a disappointment. 53 Since becoming superintendent, Haddad and district communications manager John Poynton have contributed $2,050 to State Senator Brandon Shaffer s U.S. Congressional Campaign, according to the National Institute on Money in State Politics. 54 Hudson Community (Iowa) Superintendent Tony Voss We need kids and young adults that when they graduate from our institutions and go on to colleges and careers that are able to work collaboratively and communicate with each other, said Tony Voss, superintendent at Hudson, which enrolls 720 students. I m not convinced sitting in front of a computer screen six to eight hours a day that they know how to communicate. They are becoming more and more isolated and withdrawn. 55 The Facts: With fewer than 720 students K-12 only 251 in high school and losing more each year, Hudson is one of Iowa s financially challenged districts. Enrollment is down from almost 800 in and expected to fall to less than 650 by the school year. 56 Yet two items in this year s budget almost $245,000 to construct a high school parking lot and Voss approximately $100,000 annual salary represent a cost of nearly $480 per pupil, which will continue to rise. 57 Memphis City Schools Deputy Superintendent, Irving Hamer Jr. Many educators believe there is a place for full-time virtual learning for children whose pace is extremely accelerated or those with behavioral or other issues, like teenage mothers who need to stay home with their babies. But for most children, particularly in the elementary grades, the school experience should not be replaced with online learning, they say. The early development of children requires lots of interaction with other children for purposes of socialization, developing collaboration and teamwork, and self-definition, said Irving Hamer Jr., deputy superintendent of Memphis City schools. 58 The Facts: Hamer resigned from his $190,000 a year job April 30, 2012 after being charged with violating the district s sexual harassment policy. 59 When quoting school administrators criticism of public online schools, journalists once again fail to report that the administrators have direct financial interests in dissuading students in their districts from enrolling in alternative schools. 9

10 Conclusion: As beneficial as online public schooling has proven for some students, it is increasingly under attack by wellorganized and vocal opponents. Many of these individuals and groups have financial ties to and in many cases are openly funded by teachers unions. Organizations such as the National Education Association and its many state affiliates make up the largest single block opposed to school choice options. They are opposed to not only online education but also virtually every educational option except for our children sitting in chairs in front of their approved and licensed membership. This is whether or not the children sitting in those chairs are actually learning. Rather than be a force for change and reform, they have chosen to battle against innovation and educational evolution. In their zeal to oppose competition from new public school options, they have lost sight of the goal of ensuring that every child whether rich or poor has access to the type of school that best matches their unique learning needs. While the teachers unions are upfront about their opposition to public online schools, the news stories quoting many of the most vocal critics of these schools fail to report the financial relationships between the critic and unions. The About The Center for School Options The Center for School Options mission is to develop educational resources for informing students, parents, and the public about the benefits of school choice options such as public charter schools, public online schools, open enrollment policies, and tuition scholarships. Deborah Thornton is a public policy researcher, analyst, and writer. Her work has been published in over 100 newspapers, and she has been a guest speaker on a wide variety of radio shows. Other recent research topics include renewable energy options, Tax Increment Financing (TIF), Tax and Expenditure Limits (TELs), college costs and student loan debt, law school public s right to know would be better served if journalists reported these financial relationships and how the critics personally benefit from giving voice to the unions argument against school choice options. transparency, and public pension reform. She was a political appointee in the administration of President George H.W. Bush, and has worked for Senators Dick Lugar, and Mitch McConnell, as well as for Governors Mitch Daniels and Gary Johnson. She has an MBA from the University of Maryland and a BA in Journalism and Political Science from Indiana University. 10

11 1. A Nation at Risk: The Imperative For Educational Reform, National Commission on Excellence in Education, 1983, <http://en.wikipedia. org/wiki/a_nation_at_risk> accessed September 10, John Michael Lee Jr., et.al., The College Completion Agenda, 2011 Progress Report, College Board Advocacy and Policy Center, <http://completionagenda.collegeboard.org/sites/default/files/reports_pdf/progress_executive_summary.pdf> p. 3, accessed October 5, Joel I. Klein and Condoleezza Rice, U.S. Education Reform and National Security, Task Force Report No. 68, Council on Foreign Relations, March 2012, <http://www.cfr.org/united-states/us-education-reform-national-security/p27618> pp. 3 & 9, accessed on September 10, Kelsey Sheehy, Graduation Rate Increase Propelled by Latino Achievement, U.S. News and World Report, June 13, 2012, <http://www. usnews.com/education> Accessed September 10, 2012, and Lyndsey Layton, High school graduation rate rises in U.S., The Washington Post, March 19, 2012, <http://www.washingtonpost.com/local/education/high-school-graduation-rate-rises-in-us/2012/03/16/giqaxz9rls_story. html> accessed September 4, John Watson et.al., Keeping Pace with Online Learning 2011, An Annual Review of Policy and Practice, November 2011, The Evergreen Education Group, <http://kpk12.com/cms/wp-content/uploads/keepingpace2011.pdf> p. 5, accessed September 10, Charter Schools 101: The Most Frequently Asked Questions, Fact Sheets for Reporters, National Alliance for Public Charter Schools, <http://www.publiccharters.org/editor/files/communications/charter%20schools%20101_2012.pdf> accessed September 6, Open Enrollment: Online Database, Education Commission of the States, <http://www.ecs.org/html/educationissues/openenrollment/ OEDB_intro.asp> accessed September 10, Scholarship Tax Credit Programs in the United States, Existing Programs, American Federation for Children, <http://www.federationforchildren.org/existing-programs> accessed September 6, Stephanie Saul, Profits and Questions At Online Charter Schools, The New York Times, December 12, 2011, <http://www.nytimes. com/2011/12/13/education/online-schools-score-better-on-wall-street-than-in-classrooms.html?pagewanted=all&_r=0> and Lyndsey Layton and Emma Brown, Virtual schools are multiplying, but some question their educational value, The Washington Post, November 26, 2011, <http://www.washingtonpost.com/local/education/virtual-schools-are-multiplying-but-some-question-their-educationalvalue/2011/11/22/giqanuzkzn_story.html> accessed on September 4, Ben Hall, Online Schools Make Big Profits From Tax Dollars, NewsChannel5.com, Nashville, Tennessee, May 17, Lyndsey Layton, Study Raises Questions About Virtual Schools, The Washington Post, October 24, 2011, <http://www.washingtonpost.com/ local/education/study-raises-questions-about-virtual-schools/2011/10/21/giqabxx5dm_story.html> accessed September 10, Eric Litke, Virtual charter schools in Wisconsin not making the grade, Fond du Lac Reporter, August 24, 2012, <http://www.fdlreporter. com/article/ /fon019802/ /virtual-charter-schools-wisconsin-not-making-grade> accessed September 10, Mary Sanchez, Parents, be cautious in moving your child s education online, The Kansas City Star, August 12, 2012, <http://www.kansascity. com/2012/08/12/ /parents-need-to-be-cautious-about.html> accessed September 10, John Watson, Keeping Pace with Online Learning 2011, p John Watson and Butch Gemin, A Parents Guide to Choosing the Right Online Program, International Association for K-12 Online Learning, <http://www.inacol.org/research/promisingpractices/docs/nacol_pp-parentsguide-lr.pdf> p. 2, accessed on September 30, John Watson, Keeping Pace with Online Learning 2011, p Ibid., p Collin Hitt, Private Sector Educators, Public School Students: A Survey and Overview of Instructional Service Privatization in Illinois Public Schools, Illinois Policy Institute, February 27, 2009, <http://illinoispolicy.org/news/article.asp?articlesource=777> accessed September 30, Virtual School and 21st Century Skills, The North American Council for Online Learning and the Partnership for 21st Century Skills, November 2006, <http://www.inacol.org/research/docs/nacol_21centuryskills.pdf> accessed September 29, Barbara Means, et.al., Evaluation of Evidence-Based Practices in Online Learning, A Meta-Analysis and Review of Online Learning Studies, U.S. Department of Education, September 2010, <http://www2.ed.gov/rschstat/eval/tech/evidence-based-practices/finalreport.pdf> p. xiv, accessed September 10, Jay Sivin-Kachala and Ellen Bialo, Social Skills of Mainstream Students in Full-Time, Online Public Schools: How They Compare to Traditional Public School Students, Interactive Educational Systems Design Inc., May 2009 <http://www.k12.com/sites/default/files/pdf/ IESD-Socialization-Study-Abstract-May-2009.pdf >p. 2, accessed September 20,

12 22. John Watson and Butch Gemin, Socialization in Online Programs, September 2008, North American Council for Online Learning, Evergreen Consulting Associates September 2008, <http://www.inacol.org/research/.../nacol_pp_socialization.pdf> accessed September 10, Socialization and Community, Indiana Connections Academy, <http://www.connectionsacademy.com/indiana-school/our-school/virtual-community/home.aspx> accessed on October 4, Susan Patrick, Funding and Policy Frameworks: Virtual Education, The North American Council for Online Learning, and Auginblick, Palaich and Associates, Costs and Funding of Virtual Schools, Bell South Foundation, October 2, NEA Positions on Technology and Education, Distance Education, National Education Association, <http://www.nea.org/home/30096.htm> accessed September 10, Ironically, Ms. Stein, is the Director of Strategic Partnerships for the Partnership for 21st Century Skills, a union-backed organization which includes education for all students and high school reform as some of it s priorities. Additionally she is Secretary of the Board of the Virtual High School Consortium; a non-profit affiliated with Strategic Partnerships that has contracts with 500 schools for online education. Ms. Stein apparently is not opposed to online education when the union stands to gain. <http://www.p21.org> accessed on October 1, Steven Greenhut, Lousy schools split some Democrats from union fold, Union Watch, January 4, 2011, <http://unionwatch.org/lousyschools-split-some-democrats-from-union-fold/> accessed on October 1, Help, and Us, The Great Lakes Center for Education Research and Practice, <http://greatlakescenter.org/donate.php> accessed August 30, About the Great Lakes Center, The Great Lakes Center for Education Research and Practice, <http://greatlakescenter.org/about.php> accessed August 30, About the National Education Policy Center, The National Education Policy Center, <http://nepc.colorado.edu/about-us> accessed August 30, Support, National Education Policy Center, <http://nepc.colorado.edu/support> accessed August 30, Gene V. Glass and Kevin G. Welner, Online K-12 Schooling In The U.S.: Uncertain Private Ventures In Need of Public Regulation, October 2011, National Education Policy Center, <http://gsehd.gwu.edu/documents/gsehd/resources/gwuohs-onlineresources/standardslegislation/ nepc_onlinek12_uncertainprivateventures pdf> accessed on October 5, In a February 2012 article in The Des Moines Register, Glass sided with those favoring further regulation of online education. In a few legislatures, they will win those battles, but mostly they won t because these companies have spent so much in lobbying that they have bought off most politicians. The same allegation might more credibly be made about the Iowa State Education Association (ISEA) and the Iowa Association of School Boards, which spent almost $95,000 on paid lobbyists in alone. Additionally, in just one reporting period, May - October 2010, the ISEA spent another $158,000 on candidate contributions. 34. Lyndsey Layton. 35. Board of Directors, The National Education Association (NEA) Foundation, <http://www.neafoundation.org/pages/about-us/board-of-directors/> accessed September 10, About Us, NEA Foundation, <http://www.neafoundation.org/pages/about-us/> accessed August 31, Report Shows Students Attending K12 Inc. Cyber Schools Fall Behind, Press Release, National Education Policy Center, July 18, 2012, <http://nepc.colorado.edu/newsletter/2012/07/understanding-improving-virtual%20> accessed on August 30, Bill Roberts, Research Center Errs In Criticism Of K12 In Idaho, The Idaho Statesman, July 20, 2012, <http://www.idahostatesman.com/2012/07/20/ /research-center-errs-in-criticism.html> accessed on October 2, National Institute On Money In State Politics, <http://www.followthemoney.org> accessed on September 12, Burt Hubbard and Nancy Mitchell, Troubling Questions About Online Education, EdNews Colorado, October 4, 2011, <http://www.ednewscolorado.org/2011/10/04/25310-analysis-shows-half-of-online-students-leave-programs-within-a-year-but-fundingstays> accessed on September 30, Brandon Shaffer, National Institute On Money In State Politics, <http://www.followthemoney.org/database/uniquecandidate.phtml?uc=4480> accessed on October 3, Does Iowa Really Want Online Schools? Editorial, The Des Moines Register, March 15, 2012, <http://www.desmoinesregister.com/ article/ /opinion03/ /does-iowa-really-want-online-schools-> accessed on September 10, Tom Courtney, National Institute On Money In State Politics, <http://www.followthemoney.org/database/uniquecandidate.phtml?uc=4869> accessed on October 3,

13 44. Courtney for State Senate Committee, Iowa Ethics and Campaign Disclosure Board, <https://webapp.iecdb.iowa.gov/publicview/search.aspx?d=statewide> accessed on November 14, Iowa State Education Association PAC, Iowa Ethics and Campaign Disclosure Board, <https://webapp.iecdb.iowa.gov/publicview/search.aspx?d=statewide> accessed on November 14, Stephanie Saul, Profits and Questions at Online Charter Schools. 47. Jack Wagner, National Institute On Money In State Politics. <http://www.followthemoney.org/database/uniquecandidate.phtml?uc=20363> accessed on October 3, Ben Hall, Online Schools Make Big Profits From Tax Dollars, WTVF-TV Nashville, May 17, Mike Stewart, National Institute On Money In State Politics <http://www.followthemoney.org/database/uniquecandidate.phtml?uc=9668> accessed on October 3, Lyndsey Layton and Emma Brown. 51. Senator George L. Barker s Campaign Finances, <http://votesmart.org/candidate/campaign-finance/69989/george-barker> accessed September 6, Burt Hubbard and Nancy Mitchell. 53. Victoria A.F. Camron, St. Vrain ACT scores slightly lower than last year s Locally, statewide and nationally, results show most graduates not ready for college, Longmont Times-Call, August 25, 2012, <http://www.timescall.com/news/longmont-schools/ci_ /st-vrain-actscores-slightly-lower-than-last> accessed on September 30, National Institute On Money In State Politics. These donations raise interesting conflict of interest issues, as the Shaffer s wife is the union representative who on behalf of districts faculty negotiates contract terms with Haddad on behalf of the District. 55. Sheena Dooley, Education Chief: Online academies will face scrutiny, The Des Moines Register, February 20, 2012, <http://www.desmoinesregister. com/article/ /news02/ /education-chief-online-academies-will-face-scrutiny> accessed October 10, Hudson Community School District Certified Enrollment for the School Year and Five Year Enrollment Projections, Hudson Community School District, October 17, 2011, <http://hudsonpiratepride.com/wp-content/uploads/2012/03/hudson-enrollment. pdf?9d7bd4> accessed on October 2, Amie Steffen, Marion Educator New Hudson Superintendent, Waterloo-Cedar Falls Courier, May 25, 2012, <http://wcfcourier.com/news/ local/marion-educator-new-hudson-superintendent/article_24e91e44-681e-11df-bdb2-001cc4c002e0.html> accessed September 28, 2012, and FY 2013 Budget Adopted and other board news, March 21, 2012, article by Superintendent Voss in community schools newsletter. 58. Stephanie Saul. 59. Jane Roberts, Memphis City Schools Deputy Supt. Hamer to resign April 30, Memphis Commercial Appeal, March 14, 2012, <http://www. commercialappeal.com/news/2012/mar/14/memphis-city-schools-deputy-supt-hamer-resign-apri/?print=1> accessed on October 2,

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