The Cyber Schools are Failing

English: Comparison of Charter school performa...
English: Comparison of Charter school performance to public schools. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

And why should anybody have expected anything else? Whose brilliant idea was it to have a cyber school without physical facilities? I teach online and maintain a blog. I don’t know about you but it is hard to stay focused on that keyboard when there are so many other things to do, and I’m an adult with years of education. I can’t imagine doing it as a child. The idea that parents who are often working would be able to supervise their children to stay on the computer for hours each day to take classes boggles the mind. The idea that the discipline and rules of a school necessary to keep children at those tasks could simply be abandoned in the hope of voluntary self education on the part of children was always a bit of a stretch.

It’s not working. Take their state money and send these for-profit failure on their way. We have real schools to fund.

James Pilant

From Junk Bonds to Junk Schools: Cyber Schools Fleece Taxpayers for Phantom Students and Failing Grades | Mary Bottari

The Data Is In: Kids Don\’t Learn Well in Front of Computer Screens

So while the public school system is bleeding money to cyber schools, how are those cyber students doing? Until recently, data on performance of these full-time virtual charters has been scarce. But educators at NEPC started to pull together performance data from multiple states for annual and special reports. They confirmed what many suspected: with rare exceptions, kids don\’t learn sitting in front of a computer all day. Using Adequate Yearly Progress (AYP) state data, state performance rankings, and graduation rates, the researchers showed that full-time virtual schools lag significantly behind traditional brick-and-mortar schools. In particular, only 27.7 percent of K12 Inc. online schools met AYP in 2010-2011, compared to 52 percent of public schools. Of the 36 K12 Inc. schools that were assigned a school rating by state education authorities, only seven (19.4 percent) had ratings that clearly indicated satisfactory status. The same study shows that on-time graduation rates are also much lower at online schools than at all public schools on average in the United States: only 37.6 percent of students at virtual high schools graduate on time, whereas the national average for all public high schools is more than doubl

via From Junk Bonds to Junk Schools: Cyber Schools Fleece Taxpayers for Phantom Students and Failing Grades | Mary Bottari.

From around the web.

From the web site, Virtual School Meanderings.

I say interesting for a number of reasons, but one is due to the location.  Cyber charter schools in Pennsylvania (and Ohio for that matter) when they were first created did suffer from many of the problems described in these articles (e.g., lack of oversight, fraud in terms of funding provided for students that didn’t actually attend the cyber charter school, lack of participation in state testing regimes, etc.).  While I believe in both instances (i.e., Pennsylvania and Ohio) that things have gotten much better, I do still believe that within the traditional public education community this early “Wild West” mentality gained them a reputation that they still haven’t been able to shake (and that has followed cyber charter schools to other jurisdictions).

It is also interesting because the main focus of these articles is Pennsylvania.  You see a doctoral student of mine, Abigail Hawkins, and I did a study a couple of years ago looking at what policies K-12 online learning programs had with regards to trial periods (i.e., that period of time a student can try out an online course, drop it and not be counted as being officially enrolled) and how they calculated successful completions.  Note that this study will be published in the American Journal of Distance Education sometime this month. One of the results of that study was a finding that in Pennsylvania the state required that cyber charter schools not have a trial period – that their enrollment data was kept in the same manner as a brick-and-mortar public school (i.e., beginning on the first day of school).  This was the only jurisdiction where this was done.  What this means is that comparisons of completion rates, school performance and student performance can be accurately made between the cyber charter schools and the brick-and-mortar schools in Pennsylvania – and only Pennsylvania – because you are comparing apples to apples.

So let’s do some very basic comparisons.  The Standard of education article lists that there was 1 cyber charter school making AYP, 3 cyber charter schools that were making progress towards meeting AYP, and 7 cyber charter schools not meeting AYP.  When you compare this statewide (and you can get that data here), you get the following:

Type of school Made AYP Making Progress Towards AYP Did Not Meet AYP Total
Cyber Charter Schools 1 (9.1%) 3 (27.3%) 7 (63.7%) 11
Brick-And-Mortar Schools 2290 (73.8%) 149 (4.8%) 665 (21.4%) 3104
Total 2291 (73.5%) 152 (4.9%) 672 (21.6%) 3115

The numbers don’t look particularly good for the cyber charter school community.  I should note that it would be a much better comparison is you could compare the overall student data – which I’ve never done for Pennsylvania – although it would make a nice dissertation project because of the whole apples to apples thing.

Overwhelming Pursuit and Massive Firepower


Forensic Reform
Forensic Reform

Overwhelming Pursuit and Massive Firepower

Feds To Investigate Cleveland Police After 137 Shots Fired In 59-Car Chase | ThinkProgress

On November 30, 2012, what began as a routine police drug patrol in Cleveland, Ohio ended in an unauthorized 59-car police chase in which 137 shots were fired and two unarmed individuals were left dead. The department-wide malfunction has prompted an investigation by the Department of Justice into the city police department’s use of excessive force and the “the adequacy of CPD’s training, supervision, and accountability mechanisms.”

In spite of a police policy that no more than 2 vehicles be involved in a chase, more than 59 vehicles joined the pursuit “without the sector supervisor’s knowledge or permission,” according to a state investigation of the incident. The chase began after a car pulled over for a turn signal violation drove away, and was later identified by several other officers driving at a high speed. Due to faltering communication, and the misimpression that the individuals were armed and fired a shot, the incident escalated until one-third of the police department had joined the chase.

Feds To Investigate Cleveland Police After 137 Shots Fired In 59-Car Chase | ThinkProgress


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Abraham Lincoln and the Bottom 47%

Abraham Lincoln and the bottom 47%

Abraham Lincoln and the Bottom 47%

Recently, a presidential candidate referred to bottom 47% of the American population as self identified victims. Abraham Lincoln had a different view of the poor. He had a deep concern for the less fortunate in society as is illustrated by this story (below). Would we lived in such times that this kind of judgment (and the kind of man who would make it) were honored and esteemed. Instead we are told to worship and respect the “job creators,” the PR name for what are often little more than predators.

James Pilant




An Ohio Senator had an appointment with President Lincoln at six o’clock, and as he entered the vestibule of the White House his attention was attracted toward a poorly clad young woman, who was violently sobbing. He asked her the cause of her distress. She said she had been ordered away by the servants, after vainly waiting many hours to see the President about her only brother, who had been condemned to death. Her story was this:

 She and her brother were foreigners, and orphans. They had been in this country several years. Her brother enlisted in the army, but, through bad influences, was induced to desert. He was captured, tried and sentenced to be shot—the old story.

 The poor girl had obtained the signatures of some persons who had formerly known him, to a petition for a pardon, and alone had come to Washington to lay the case before the President. Thronged as the waiting-rooms always were, she had passed the long hours of two days trying in vain to get an audience, and had at length been ordered away.

 The gentleman’s feelings were touched. He said to her that he had come to see the President, but did not know as he should succeed. He told her, however, to follow him upstairs, and he would see what could be done for her.

 Just before reaching the door, Mr. Lincoln came out, and, meeting his friend, said good-humoredly, “Are you not ahead of time?” The gentleman showed him his watch, with the hand upon the hour of six.

 “Well,” returned Mr. Lincoln, “I have been so busy to-day that I have not had time to get a lunch. Go in and sit down; I will be back directly.”

 The gentleman made the young woman accompany him into the office, and when they were seated, said to her: “Now, my good girl, I want you to muster all the courage you have in the world. When the President comes back, he will sit down in that armchair. I shall get up to speak to him, and as I do so you must force yourself between us, and insist upon his examination of your papers, telling him it is a case of life and death, and admits of no delay.” These instructions were carried out to the letter. Mr. Lincoln was at first somewhat surprised at the apparent forwardness of the young woman, but observing her distressed appearance, he ceased conversation with his friend, and commenced an examination of the document she had placed in his hands.

 Glancing from it to the face of the petitioner, whose tears had broken forth afresh, he studied its expression for a moment, and then his eye fell upon her scanty but neat dress. Instantly his face lighted up.

 “My poor girl,” said he, “you have come here with no Governor, or Senator, or member of Congress to plead your cause. You seem honest and truthful; and you don’t wear hoopskirts—and I will be whipped but I will pardon your brother.” And he did.


A Complete Collection of the Funny and Witty Anecdotes that made Abraham Lincoln Famous as America’s Greatest Story Teller With Introduction and Anecdotes

By Alexander K. McClure

(This material is in the public domain.)

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Affidavits Not Enough to Prove Ownership of a Mortgage Note (via DANNLAW)

A Bank?

For almost two years banks have been foreclosing on homes and many times the only evidence of ownership was a notarized piece of paper with the signature of a “robo-signer,” often a person with no legal training whatever, often people who had no concept of the effects of the documents to which they attached their names.

In Deutche Bank v. Triplett, the banks were told, “No.” This is part of a chain of decisions where the courts have said to the banks, “You cannot foreclose without actual documents showing ownership (my interpretation).”

In other words, signing a notarized statement that your bank owns the property is not enough to foreclose on property.

With the MERS system in use by many of the big mortgage firms (Countrywide for example), there is an absence of proper paperwork in at least hundreds of thousands of cases. MERS only has computer records, no paperwork. This computer program run by a private company saved banks from the hassle of going through the process of changing ownership without bothering with that time-consuming paperwork like filing documents at the county court-house or paying the state mandated fees for transferring ownership.

Some judges believe that evading state law and taxes is illegal.

If you want to understand MERS, go to my article here –MERS And Ownership or here – Congress Leaps In To Protect The Banking Industry?

Building on the landmark Wells Fargo v. Jordan Decision, Ohio’s 8th District Court of Appeals (Cuyahoga County) ruled this week that an affidavit alleging that a foreclosure plaintiff held the note prior to filing of a complaint for foreclosure is not sufficient evidence to support a foreclosure judgment. In Deutche Bank v. Triplett, the court of appeals held: “… Deutsche  Bank’s affidavit of ownership, sworn out more than a year after the fore … Read More


Cordray: Refiling Affidavits is an Insult to the Justice System

I don’t usually print press releases, but I REALLY like this one!

From the Ohio Attorney General Web Site –

COLUMBUS, Ohio) — In response to Wells Fargo’s statement acknowledging that it “made mistakes” and that affidavits in 55,000 foreclosures filed by the bank did not “adhere” to the law, Ohio Attorney General Richard Cordray offers the following statement:

“The big mortgage servicers and financial firms continue to demonstrate their belief that they do not need to play by the same rules as everyone else who uses our court system. The suggestion by Wells Fargo and its colleagues at several other national firms that they can cure fraudulent testimony by simply refiling new affidavits and continuing to proceed toward foreclosures shows they do not recognize the seriousness of the problem they have created. There is no simple ‘do-over’ for false testimony that will be likely to avoid sanctions and penalties imposed by the courts. Their brazen efforts to minimize their financial exposure by sweeping these problems under the rug are an insult to the justice system in this country. These disclosures by Wells Fargo will now become the focus for a new prong of our on-going investigation.”

Earlier this month, Cordray filed a lawsuit against GMAC for issuing false affidavits in many Ohio foreclosure cases. He has taken a hard-line approach with national loan servicers operating in Ohio in the wake of the foreclosure crisis. In July 2009, Ohio was the first state to file a lawsuit against a loan servicer for violating the state’s consumer laws. Since then, two other cases have been filed in addition to the case against GMAC.

Okay, guys, there it is. I’ve been talking about it for weeks. This is fraud. It’s not mishandled paperwork. It’s not routine. It’s not something that “wouldn’t have changed the outcome in the vast majority of cases.” It’s illegal. It’s lying to the court. It’s telling Judges what you know to be untrue on oath.

The Ohio Attorney General has the guts to get out there and say it. The President won’t. The Wall Street Journal won’t. The Treasury department won’t.

But I have almost from the beginning.

It’s time for a foreclosure freeze, a moratorium until the industry gets its house in order. It’s time for action not just in Ohio but all over the fifty AND the federal government.

The American people have a right to believe that there is one type of law for all people be they in the banking industry or other citizens.

Let us go forward as a nation not just Ohio and punish these criminal acts.

James Pilant