If you ask your typical Republican legislator to name the one organization most responsible for the sorry state of our current public school system, they'll quickly point to the teachers union as the main culprit. So, when a private, for-profit company came along and offered Tennessee's legislature an opportunity to invest in a virtual academy for one of its worst performing school districts, they jumped at the chance to pull students, and taxpayer money, away from that district and its teachers.
The state signed a contract with a company called K12, and designated $5,387 of state cash per student. The happy news was that Union County would be allowed to keep 4% of that money. A win/win, right?
But a funny thing happened on the way to academic excellence in Union County. Tests revealed that only 16.4% of the middle schoolers were grading as proficient in math, and only 39.3% were testing as proficient in language arts. Seeing those results as problematic, the vice principal of Tennessee Virtual Academy sent out an email telling teachers to delete failing test scores in order to "more accurately recognize students' current progress."
In other words, test scores were deleted if it reflected poorly on the for-profit school.
Can you imagine the shit storm that would arise if the public schools teachers union did something like that? Well, not too long ago some teachers in the Atlanta area were accused of something similar, and heads rolled.
Currently, there are 3,149 students enrolled at Tennessee Virtual Academy. Democratic lawmakers are pushing a bill to limit the total enrollment to 5,000 in light of the current mess.
Hell, I wish I'd been a student at this online academy when I was in school. There's a chance I would have graduated from high school with honors, instead of just scraping by...