A “virtual” siphon of public money

Even in tough economic times, the entrepreneurs whose main interest in education is how to make money from it – and from the taxpayers – are everpresent, and one company, K12 Inc., apparently scored big in Tennessee this spring with a new, forprofit “virtual school” law.

The budget cuts suffered by Texas’ public schools were bad enough, but Texas teachers and other taxpayers at least can be grateful it was Bill Haslam, the governor of Tennessee, and not Rick Perry, the governor of Texas, who signed the K12 law.

According to a story, linked below, in The Commercial Appeal in Memphis, the new law lets a forprofit company recruit children throughout the state for a virtual academy. This would include children who have been homeschooled as well as kids recruited from public schools. There is no cap on enrollment or total funding.

K12’s lobbyists pushed the bill through during the closing minutes of the Tennessee legislative session in May, and the company has been conducting an enrollment blitz this summer.

Haslam, who signed the new law last month, admits that he just now is learning its full impact.

“I do think we have to think through the consequences a little bit more than we’ve done so far,” he said.

It may be a little late for that, don’t you think, governor?

But not too late for public school supporters to be wary of a similar proposal when the Texas Legislature returns to Austin in 2013.



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