Category Archives: Early.Childhood.Education

From China to Chicago, K12 Inc. markets more than virtual schools

Source: Stephanie Simon, Politico, September 27, 2013

The bipartisan education reform movement sweeping the nation calls for opening up public schools to free-market competition. That has meant sending billions of tax dollars to private, for-profit companies to educate kids.

But the companies do more than pay teachers, develop curriculum and buy supplies with all that revenue.

They use it as a launchpad for new products, new brands and new markets.

Consider K12 Inc., the nation’s largest private operator of public schools. It runs 54 online schools in 33 states and Washington, D.C. But it also runs a tutoring center in the United Arab Emirates. It sells courses to the Cook County correctional system in Chicago. It’s making a big push to get its new online curriculum for toddlers into Head Start preschools for low-income kids….

…Websites for Insight Schools, a network of tuition-free, online public schools, serve up a five-question quiz, “Is an online high school right for you?”

Respond that you don’t care about earning a high-school diploma and don’t like studying at home and you’re still told: “Based on your answers, Insight Schools may be a good fit for you.” The sites also feature video testimony from two students who emphasize that studying at Insight leaves them with ample free time for video games, music and hanging out with friends.

Insight is a division of K12 Inc. and represents a key element of the company’s diversification strategy: Developing new brands of schools in addition to its trademark Virtual Academies….

Denver firm to run Head Start on interim basis as bids are considered

Source: Nolan Rosenkrans, Toledo Blade, April 11, 2013

A Denver company will run Head Start in Lucas County while the federal government conducts a second round of bids, a serious blow to the Toledo community action agency that currently runs the early childhood education program. …. When the grant ends, the Community Development Institute will serve as an interim provider while the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services solicits local applicants for the grant. …. The end of EOPA’s grant will place the future of the agency’s more than 300 Head Start employees in flux. Employment with CDI is not guaranteed, according to its Web site, and all current Head Start workers will have to compete for jobs.

Soaring Charges by a Contractor With Special Education

Source: David M. Halbfinger, New York Times, April 11, 2013

Cheon H. Park ran a company that had begun to prosper on government contracts, but he had bigger ambitions. So he tore down his shabby headquarters on a quiet street in Flushing, Queens, and replaced it with a lavish three-story building that had marble floors, granite countertops, red carpets and a soaring chandelier. Then he brought in the clients: 3- and 4-year-olds with developmental disabilities. Scores of them came each weekday, their parents lured by the attractive surroundings and the promises of state-of-the-art therapy. New York City and New York State paid for it all, from the expensive renovations to the services themselves, at a rate of as much as $98 an hour. But many of the children entrusted to Mr. Park’s company did not get the care they needed, according to numerous interviews with workers and parents and an extensive analysis of government records. Some children whose first language was Chinese languished in classes taught in Spanish or Korean. Others who were supposed to receive individual tutoring were thrown into groups of four or more children, all with different types of disabilities. Some children did not have disabilities at all and were simply being used to generate billings, the interviews show. …

… At Mr. Park’s company, the costs to treat these 3- and 4-year-olds were enormous. The government routinely spent more than $50,000 in a single year on services for one child, according to an analysis of billing records. In all, that occurred 281 times from 2005 to 2012, the records show. The money went to Mr. Park’s company, Bilingual SEIT, and other providers of related services, including contractors that transported children to his schools. In the 2011-12 school year, Bilingual SEIT billed more than $17 million to the city and state, up from $725,000 it had billed a decade earlier. …
Related:
Editorial – Fraud in Preschool Special Education
New York Times, December 25, 2012

… New York employs private contractors to provide special education services that, in most other states, are part of the public school system. This has created opportunities for abuse. The comptroller’s indictment of the Education Department is harsh. The audit asserts, for example, that “there has been no fiscal audit oversight” of the special education service providers since 2007 and that the department, which is understaffed, has no systematic way of reviewing the hundreds of millions of dollars in charges submitted every year by the contractors….

Audit Finds Lax Oversight of Preschool Special Education
By David M. Halbfinger, New York Times, December 17, 2012

New York spends around $2 billion a year on preschool for children with disabilities, yet the State Education Department has not visited and audited a single contractor involved in the program since 2007, the state comptroller’s office has found. …

Pre-K Provider Stole Millions, State Audit Says

Source: David M. Halbfinger, New York Times, March 18, 2013

One of New York City’s largest providers of special education services to preschoolers with disabilities illegally diverted millions in taxpayer financing to a girls’ religious school, summer camps and a kosher supermarket owned by the group’s officers and board members, state auditors said on Monday.

The auditors were unable to confirm that any of the hundreds of children who were supposed to get one-on-one instruction from the agency, Island Child Development Center, ever actually did, said the office of the state comptroller, Thomas P. DiNapoli.

After subpoenaing more than 13,000 checks from the agency’s bank, auditors said they gave up counting after the first 1,549 checks they reviewed turned up $5.8 million in what they said was fraudulent spending over a six-year period when Island Child billed the state and the city more than $27 million. …

Editorial: Privatizing pre-K hurts rural counties / Report shows poor, rural areas need pre-K in public schools

Posted: Charlotte Observer, April 02, 2012

N.C. lawmakers on a House panel wisely backed off recommendations last month that would have taken away access to state pre-kindergarten programs from thousands of poor N.C. children. The panel’s draft report had included recommendations to dramatically raise the income eligibility guidelines – a change that would disqualify many financially struggling families from participating. Members also backed away from a recommendation that state pre-K be provided solely in private child care facilities – not in public schools.

Still, it was clear that some lawmakers thought the ideas had merit and plan to pursue them – especially the move to privatize pre-kindergarten. We hope and urge the public and policymakers to stand firm against such moves. A new report from the N.C. Justice Center’s N.C. Budget and Tax Center provides good ammunition to explain why keeping pre-K in public schools has merit.
Related:
Privatizing Pre-K – A move that would disproportionately impact rural, high-poverty communities
Source: Louisa Warren, NC Budget & Tax Center, BTC Brief, March 2012