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….