Is a private equity-backed online learning company coming to a school near you?

Welcome to Cashing in on Kids, a newsletter for people fighting to stop the privatization of America’s public schools—produced by In the Public Interest.

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Is a private equity-backed online learning company coming to a school near you? The Alabama Supreme Court has rejected former state Speaker of the House Mike Hubbard’s request to consider six convictions in his ethics case and ordered him to serve his prison sentence.

What did Hubbard do? He violated state ethics laws by signing consulting contracts with a number of companies, including Edgenuity, an edtech company that works with school districts nationwide.

Edgenuity—which is owned by a private equity firm—was contracted to provide remote learning support to public schools in Auburn. Parents there are now complaining that the company was not providing the services they were promised. Opelika-Auburn News

The case highlights issues with remote learning—especially with Edgenuity—across the country during the pandemic.

Schools in Fort Worth, Texas, recently dropped Edgenuity products for a more customized approach to online learning.

The Minnesota Department of Education has notified a district in the city of Red Wing that it can’t simply outsource online learning to Edgenuity.

California’s Chico Unified School District will be dropping an online curriculum provided by Acellus after complaints from parents about the content featuring racist material.

Yet, a Michigan school district and another in Kentucky are moving forward contracting with Edgenuity.

Private capital amassing for charter buildings. Equitable Facilities Fund, a relatively new startup with leadership from the Walton Family Foundation, has inked a $141 million deal to fund revenue bonds for charter school facilities in Arizona and California. The Bond Buyer

Corporate lobby group attacks teachers’ unions in call for schools to reopen. Investigative reporter Alex Kotch: “A conservative business lobbying group funded by Republican billionaires and tied to the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) is spending money in an attempt to fully reopen U.S. schools.” The Center for Media and Democracy

Philly charter school flunked students during the pandemic, then charged for summer school. “Unlike Philadelphia’s public school system, New Foundations Charter decided to treat the end of the last school year as it would any other semester. After the semester ended, New Foundations asked Marcus to retake courses in history, math and science over the summer. Those classes, the school explained, would take place online and would cost Lachman between $115 and $155 dollars a course.” WHYY

A community of color was failed by 30 years of school choice—now teachers push a positive alternative. Journalist Jeff Bryant documents grassroots efforts to push the “community school” model in Milwaukee. AlterNet

Photo by Allison Shelley for American Education: Images of Teachers and Students in Action