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Virtually Nothing

Gail Collins does a little sniffing around the online education trash heap. She notices that better-off kids get physical schools with human teachers and other students in them, while poor kids get for-profit onlines with grading done God knows how and by whom. One program outsourced its grading to India.

Does full-time online learning really work for disadvantaged kids who may be alone at home all day?

Dig: Full-time online doesn’t work for anyone, least of all, obviously, poor kids home alone. But let’s dump online on poor kids whose parents don’t know any better and let’s make a mint by trashing their education.

K12 Inc. is a big private online education business. It was founded by a former Goldman Sachs banker and by William Bennett, the Republican writer and talk-show host, with an infusion of cash from the former disgraced junk-bond king Mike Milken. Its teachers generally work from their homes, communicating with their students by e-mail or phone.

What teachers? Who are they? Are you sure they’re the people teaching the course? Are you sure the student is the person signed up to take the course? No. You have no idea, and there’s no way you can know. But you don’t care, do you? Here’s the deal: “[C]ompany profits have been soaring.”


Here’s the skinny on for-profit online education for American kids:

As long as customers don’t care about learning anything, the model will work well. Profits will soar, and students will appreciate not having to go to school. As word gets around that you can get a high school diploma while doing jackshit in the comfort of your own home, the thing will grow like wildfire.

The model’s risk lies only in the possibility that more than a few online customers will at some point after they graduate sense a connection between their failure in life and their lack of an education. It’s not just that they can’t think. They don’t know how to be in a work setting, having spent the last ten years in their pajamas.


A good summary of the scandal. With links. If you have any predisposition toward depression, do not go there.

Margaret Soltan, December 3, 2011 6:06PM
Posted in: CLICK-THRU U.

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2 Responses to “Virtually Nothing”

  1. francofou Says:

    At least they’re honest: taxpayers pay to keep the poor and uneducated poor and uneducated. Public schools do the same, but ooze rhetoric. As with online in general: you want a certificate? Send the money. You want an education? Tough.

  2. Wearing Pajamas to School « Slow Pendulums Says:

    […] Margaret Soltan of University Diaries on for-profit, “click-thru” education: As long as customers don’t care about learning anything, the model will work well. Profits will […]

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