As teachers, our CAVA colleagues are focused on their students. This does not always leave enough time to explore how important decisions are made at our schools. At times, we are confronted by challenges that raise serious questions about who makes decisions at CAVA and why certain decisions are made. Those moments make us look deeper at our school. Whether it is a complaint by parents about faulty hardware, a new attendance policy, or a restructuring of campuses, many of these challenges force us to investigate how CAVA actually works. This is the first in a series of articles that sheds light on CAVA, K12 Inc., and their impact on CAVA educators and students.
* K12 Inc. is a publicly traded, for-profit company that manages, sells curriculum and technology services to CAVA schools. K12 Inc. also manages schools in 33 States and in 2014 had revenue of $919.6 million and operating income (or profit) of $55.1 million.[i]
* CAVA typically receives the same, per-pupil public funding as most brick and mortar schools in California despite the fact that educators are paid much less than most corresponding districts[ii]
* In the 2012-2013 academic school year CAVA produced over 47 million dollars in revenue for K12 Inc. CAVA paid K12 for management services, technology, curriculum and equipment[iii]
* K 12 Inc.’s executive leadership made over $16,500,000 in compensation in 2014 including over $4.2 million by the CEO[iv]
What is the relationship between CAVA and K12 Inc.? When CAVA parents talk about our school, they often use “K12” and “CAVA” interchangeably. This is not surprising, as it is often difficult to understand who makes decisions. For instance, although CAVA is comprised of a network of schools, our “Head of Schools,” Katrina Abston, is a K12 Inc. employee.
Our investigation into this question led us to a number of conclusions: First, K12 California, a subsidiary of K12 Inc., is CAVA’s primary vendor and is responsible for managing much of CAVA’s operations. In fact, each CAVA location has entered into a nearly identical 10-year agreement with K12 California.[v] This becomes alarming when you realize, according to a recent report, that K12 California is “both the manager of each CAVA board’s school funds and the primary vendor at each CAVA location.”[vi] In other words, it appears that K12 Inc. plays a big role in deciding how our school’s resources are used while contracting with itself.
In recent months, many teachers and parents have raised concerns about the implications of K12 Inc. both managing CAVA and serving as the primary vendor for our school. Since K12 Inc. is a for-profit company, we wonder whether K12 Inc. prioritizes quality education for our students or creating profit for their shareholders. As teachers, we want to do what is best for our students. Unfortunately some of the decisions that are made at our schools about staffing, technology, and compensation, seem to be more closely in line with efforts to cut costs and increase profits.
Our conclusion: K12 Inc. makes many decisions that impact our students and our responsibilities as educators. Those decisions are not always made with the best interests of our students in mind. We need to help make sure more resources are spent in our classrooms, on our students, and to support our colleagues.
Let us know what you think! Also, some interesting Tidbits we want to explore in future articles:
* Why doesn’t CAVA write letters of recommendation for the teachers they value so much?
* Why are we encouraged to try to keep students’ who we know don’t thrive in a virtual setting?
* Why is our relationship with CAVA/K12 not more transparent?
If you haven’t read the report on CAVA by In the Public Interest, you can find it here: http://www.inthepublicinterest.org/wp-content/uploads/Virtual_Public_Education_In_California.pdf
[vi] http://www.inthepublicinterest.org/wp-content/uploads/Virtual_Public_Education_In_California.pdf footnote 179 (Educational Products and Services Agreement Between California Vitual Academy @ Fresno and K12 California)