Should ‘Enron’ weasels be trusted with K-12 education?

29 Nov

Here’s today’s COMMENT FROM AN OLD FART: Moi has been following the for-profit college sector for quite awhile:

Report: For-profit colleges more concerned with executive pay than student achievement                                             

Scary study about what happens to for-profit college graduates                                                          

For-profit colleges: Money buys government, not quality for students                                                                           

Huffington Post is reporting in the article, Online Charter Schools Spent Millions Of Taxpayer Dollars On Advertising To Recruit New Students:

An analysis by USA Today has revealed that 10 of the largest online charter schools spent an estimated $94.4 million in taxpayer dollars on advertising over the past five years. The largest, Virginia-based K12 Inc., spent approximately $21.5 million in just the first eight months of 2012.

The estimates are based on advertising rates and buys compiled by Kantar Media, a New York-based provider of “media and marketing intelligence,” according to the paper. K12 spokesman Jeff Kwitowski declined to comment to USA Today on whether the estimates are accurate, but defended the company’s marketing strategy.

“We try our best to ensure that all families know that these options exist,” Kwitowski told USA Today. “It’s really about the parents’ choice — they’re the ones that make the decision about what school or program is the best fit for their child.”

According to the Colorado consulting firm Evergreen Education Group, about 275,000 students nationwide attend school online full-time.

While charter schools claim they need to spend money on advertising to make parents and students aware of their institutions, critics contend the public dollars the schools receive could be better spent helping current students learn, rather than recruiting new ones.

In Ohio, critics of the online charter school system also argue that local taxpayer support would be better served funding public schools in districts that are facing budget crises. An NPR report that online schools can operate by spending just $3,600 per student, but Ohio pays online charter schools close to $6,300 per student, leaving companies with a substantial amount to devote to advertising.

That advertising money is spent on popular websites, as well as on ads directed at students. According to NPR, the Ohio Distance and Electronic Learning Academy is one of several online charter schools that advertise on Facebook, and the organization also has banner ads that show up on sites for students seeking help coping with depression. Similarly, Connections Academy, which is operated by Pearson, purchased Google ads that show up next to a search for “bullied at school.”

USA Today reports K12 strives to target children with its television and web ads; the for-profit online learning company spent an estimated $631,600 to advertise on Nickelodeon, $601,600 on The Cartoon Network and $671,400 on It also bought $3,000 worth of ads on, which claims to be “the Web’s largest community for dark alternative culture.”

Critics also point to the low success rates of online charter schools. K12’s Ohio Virtual Academy has a four-year graduation rate of just 30 percent, while its Virtual Academy in Colorado only graduates 12 percent of its students.

The debate currently going on in society is whether education is a “public good.”

The Business Dictionary defines a “public good.”

public good


An item whose consumption is not decided by the individual consumer but by the society as a whole, and which is financed by taxation.

A public good (or service) may be consumed without reducing the amount available for others, and cannot be withheld from those who do not pay for it. Public goods (and services) include economic statistics and other information, law enforcement, national defense, parks, and other things for the use and benefit of all. No market exists for such goods, and they are provided to everyone by governments. See also good and private good

Joseph Stiglitz, the Nobel Prize economist wrote KNOWLEDGE AS A GLOBAL PUBLIC GOOD:

This paper combines two concepts developed over the past quarter of century: the concept of global public goods and the notion of knowledge as a global public good.[3]

A public good has two critical properties, non-rivalrous consumption–the consumption of one individual does not detract from that of another–and non-excludability–it is difficult if not impossible to exclude an individual from enjoying the good. Knowledge of a mathematical theorem clearly satisfies both attributes: if I teach you the theorem, I continue to enjoy the knowledge of the theorem at the same time that you do. By the same token, once I publish the theorem, anyone can enjoy the theorem. No one can be excluded. They can use the theorem as the basis of their own further research. The “ideas” contained in the theorem may even stimulate others to have an idea with large commercial value.


The fact that knowledge is non-rivalrous–there is a zero marginal cost from an additional individual enjoying the benefits of the knowledge–has a strong implication. Even if one could exclude someone from enjoying the benefits of knowledge, it would be undesirable to do so because there are no marginal cost to sharing its benefits. If information is to be efficiently utilized, it cannot be privately provided as efficiency implies charging a price of zero—the marginal cost of another individual enjoying the knowledge. However, at zero price, only knowledge that could be produced at zero cost would be produced.

To be sure, to acquire and use knowledge, individuals may have to expend resources–just as they might have to expend resources to retrieve water from a public lake. That there may be significant costs associated with transmission of knowledge does not in any way affect the public good nature of knowledge itself: private providers can provide the “transmission” for a charge reflecting the marginal cost of transmission while at the same time, the good itself can remain free.

See, Education is a public good, not a consumer good

Moi wrote in Accountability in virtual schools:

Technology can be a useful tool and education aid, BUT it is not a cheap way to move the masses through the education system without the guidance and mentoring that a quality human and humane teacher can provide. Education and children have suffered because cash sluts and credit crunch weasels have destroyed this society and there is no one taking them on. They will continue to bleed this society dry while playing their masters of the universe games until they are stopped.

Where information leads to Hope. © Dr.

Blogs by Dr. Wilda:


Dr. Wilda Reviews ©                                      

Dr. Wilda ©                                                                                      

One Response to “Should ‘Enron’ weasels be trusted with K-12 education?”

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: