Sunday, July 28, 2013

Response to aggressive cyber school marketing

Two days ago we blogged about the evidence we saw of radical expansion of K-12 cyber schools, and aggressive marketing by for-profit charters, particularly K12 Inc. Online schools rapidly expanding, spending tax dollars on marketing, Okemos Parents for Schools, July 26, 2013.  Response was overwhelming that other folks across Michigan are seeing what we are ... and more.

The Network for Public Education linked to the post.  Save Michigan's Public Schools shared our post on Facebook and their post got 34 comments.  See their post here. Some of the comments discussed the marketing they from for-profit cyber schools:
  • "Every other radio ad in the Lansing market is for enrollment in online schools."
  • "I have seen road side signs. When I see advertisements on FB for online schools I mark it as spam."
  • "I've seen the signs and have actually gotten a letter explaining all the benefits of online schools (with TESTIMONIALS from parents). Whatever."
  • "They are out on the roads AND on TV! I have seen commercials for them! Arg!"
  • "They are even paying for ads on apps like Words with Friends for charter and virtual schools. It is disgusting!"
  • "Saw one sign on US 23 going to Alpena. At least it was only one lonely sign."
  • "Saw this sign today on the corner of M-52 and Grand River between Webberville & Williamston. Made me very angry!!"
  • "I see the signs all the time and hear advertisements on the radio. What parent in their right mind would pull their child out of school to learn on a computer?"
  • "Lot's of radio ads."
  • "They have at least three of them along North Avenue in St. Clair County in a 10 mile stretch."
  • "Signs in Oscoda, MI"
  • "yes in Rochester _ Oakland Twp and getting e mails from them"
  • "I've seen them lots the past spring. Plus the radio ads are endless"
Some of the comments expressed concern about the idea of cyber schools:
  • "One of the commercials for K-12 online learning, touts that it is great to get a public school education, "without the public school!" Your child won't have the distraction of "other students" like in a classroom setting. It all makes me so disgusted, as if in the our world we don't need to be able to learn to live with "other people." I simply can't imagine placing more value on making money than doing what is really good for our youth. It is sad."
  • "Parents aren't following through on their children completing homework, reading, or studying so what makes them think they will get them to focus on computer based instruction."
  • "How is this good for kids?

    Do virtual schools build community? Social relationships? Interpersonal skills? A sense of creativity and critical thinking?

    Cyber school enterprises have a track record of low passing rates, high dropout rates (often the c
    yber school keeps the tax dollars even when a student drops).

    And a very high profit margin."
  • "I see the signs all the time and hear advertisements on the radio. What parent in their right mind would pull their child out of school to learn on a computer?"
One of the commenters on our blog defended the idea of quality homeschooling, something which we do not oppose, and expressed her view that K12 Inc. was not providing a quality education.  She said, in part, "I'll be sure never to recommend K12 though now that I know some of these things."

One commenter on the Save Michigan's Public Schools Facebook post made the point that these aggressive marketing campaigns are paid for with public funds meant for educating kids:
  • "This is our kids education money being spent on this craziness. Stand up parents before its too late."
Gubernatorial candidate Mark Schauer's communication director, Zack Pohl, shared a photo of an online ad and expressed a similar concern:
Mr. Pohl also shared our post. 

We don't know how much tax money is being spent on advertising cyber schools.  We found a link to a story about New York charters spending $1.6 million on marketing. Charter schools spending up to $1.6 million on marketing,, August 9, 2011.  However much money it is, it's clearly a lot. 

1 comment:

  1. I heard an ad recently for an online school on Michigan Radio (NPR!) I was very upset about it, and wondered what their advertising policy is.