Letters Pour In: Corporate-Backed “Cyber Schools Bill” is Bad For Michigan

The more Michiganders learn about Senate Bill 619, which would divert approximately $7.2 billion from Michigan public schools to unaccountable “cyber school” corporations, the less they like it.

The bill is being pushed heavily by a Virginia-based company called K12, Inc. which has been making a killing in the for-profit education business. In 2011, they made $522 million in profits, and business is only getting better. According to The Nation, the latest estimate is that the corporate online learning will grow by 43 percent (between 2010-2015) with revenues reaching $24.4 billion.

Not-so-coincidentally, K12, Inc. is a member corporation of the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) the right-wing organization that helped create Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker’s collective bargaining ban, Arizona’s anti-immigrant “show your papers” law, the now-infamous Florida “Stand Your Ground” law. The idea of using state legislators as delivery systems for bills favorable to corporations is one with which they are quite familiar.

The people of Michigan, however? Not such fans of legislators essentially diverting billions of their hard-earned tax dollars away from public schools and into the expensive experiments of corporations like K12, Inc.

Scott Craig of Northville, a school board member, wrote to the Northville Patch:

Before we hand over $7,000+ of our taxpayer’s hard earned money for every student who signs up for a cyber school, shouldn’t we examine the success and failure of cyber schools?

We can learn from the experiences of other states. Investigative reports from Colorado, Florida, and Pennsylvania and elsewhere raise serious concerns about the effectiveness of private for-profit companies, like K 12 Inc that are running cyber schools in Michigan…

In light of these facts it would be irresponsible to allow a massive expansion of cyber schools in Michigan. This learning approach may have a place in a blended approach of the future 21st century, but the proper role and use of these virtual schools is far from worthy of a massive investment of precious education dollars at this time.

Joan Lamb of Douglas wrote to the Holland Sentinel:

The future of Michigan’s kids is not something to be traded and sold to benefit international shareholders. Please take action today and call you state representative and urge them to oppose this dangerous and risky choice for Michigan.

Jim Martin wrote to his local paper, the Sault Ste. Marie Evening News:

Just as companies like Haliburton found billions in the outsourcing of defense contracts, corporations are now seeing education as its next great cash cow. It’s no surprise that corporate America now spells public education “Cyber$chool$.”

Our own Working America member, Michael Salib from Dundee, wrote:

No more growing up around other peers their age, no more competing in organized sports or participating in gym class, choir, band, Spanish Club, study groups with school friends? This is supposed to be a good idea? What about the fact most households have to have two working parents in order to survive? Which one of the two parents can stay home and make sure Junior is attending computer classes each day? How do you learn to throw a football, learn an instrument or give a public speech without attending school with other people?

Who benefits from this legislation anyway? K-12 Inc.! They become rich using our local and state tax dollars.

Please contact your Lansing representative. Don’t allow this to happen in our state. Please, take action now. Don’t give our representatives a moment’s rest until they defeat this ridiculous piece of legislation. Then ask them to try to bring more quality jobs to Michigan, not outsource even more of our already dwindling jobs.

Want to take action? Write to your Michigan legislator, and tell them to put kids over corporations. Or, if you’re not in Michigan, share our action on Facebook and Twitter.

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