For-profit, online school — with dismal student results — headed toward extension

The Tennessee Virtual Public Schools Act, which authorized the creation of of the state’s largest online school serving kindergarten through 8th grade, is set to expire in June.

The school, Tennessee Virtual Academy, is operated by K12, Inc., a for-profit company that has contract with Union County. Union County receives about $8,600 for each of the 1,200 students enrolled in the online school—most of which is paid to the for-profit corporation. The company’s stock on the NYSE was trading at $32 at the time of this writing.

According to the state’s report card, The Tennessee Virtual Academy scores 1 out of 4 for Academic Achievement and .1 out of 4 in Student Academic Growth.

The Tennessee Virtual Academy opened in 2011, following the passage of the Virtual Schools Act. Since then, the Virtual Academy has been one of the state’s lowest-performing schools, according to WBIR.

Despite years of poor academic performance, the State Senate and one House Committee have already approved an extension of the law that authorizes the failing, for-profit online school.

House Bill 0070 authorizes an extension of the Virtual Schools Act to 2023 and is sponsored by Rep. Dennis Powers, R-Jacksboro, District 36 and Sen. Dolores Gresham, R-Somerville, District 26.

The Tennessee Virtual Schools Act was passed in 2011 on behalf of a for-profit company—not Tennessee students. And the results have shown consistently, that this experimental decision has not worked. It’s time to correct our wrong, do better for our students and cancel the contract with K12, Inc.

How they voted:
House Education Administration Subcommittee, Feb. 26: 
Rep. David Byrd, R-Waynesboro, District 71
Rep. Scott Cepicky, R-Culleoka, District 64
Rep. Jerry Sexton, R-Bean Station, District 35
Rep. Mark White, R-Memphis, District 83
Rep. Ryan Williams, R-Cookeville, District 42
Rep. Harold Love, Jr., D-Nashville, District 58
Rep. Jason Hodges, D-Clarksville, District 67

How they voted:
Full Senate Floor Vote, Feb. 11:
Senators voting aye were: Akbari, Bailey, Bell, Bowling, Briggs, Crowe, Dickerson, Gardenhire, Gilmore, Gresham, Haile, Hensley, Jackson, Johnson, Kelsey, Kurita, Kyle, Lundberg, Massey, Niceley, Pody, Reeves, Roberts, Robinson, Southerland, Stevens, Swann, Watson, White, Yager, Mr. Speaker McNally — 31.
Senators voting no were: Yarbro — 1.