MILWAUKEE — Assembly Education Committee Chair Rep. Brett Davis (R-Oregon) will hold a public hearing today on a bill he has authored that will benefit operators of Wisconsin virtual schools including K12, Inc., the Virginia-based for-profit company behind the Wisconsin Virtual Academy, and whose top executive and senior staff contributed to Davis’s last campaign.
“What kind of smell test does this one pass?” asked Scot Ross, Executive Director of One Wisconsin Now. “Brett Davis’s campaign takes contributions from top executives of an out-of-state, for-profit company and then sponsors legislation that specifically would help this for-profit company with taxpayer funds.”
Davis’s bill requires taxpayers to provide the operators of virtual schools with funding at a current level of $6,000 per student. The cost of curriculum materials provided by K12, Inc. per student costs around $1,200. Davis announced his plan after legislation was proposed in the State Senate to reduce the per pupil payment for virtual schools.
According to the Wisconsin Democracy Campaign, two weeks before the November 2006 election, Davis’s campaign received a $350 contribution from Ronald Packard and $150 from Bryan Flood. Packard, who founded K12 along with right wing radio host William Bennett, receives over $400,000 annually as K12’s Chief Executive Officer, according to Reuters. Flood is a Senior Vice President for Public Affairs.
In its recent Common Stock Offering Prospectus with the Security and Exchange Commission, K12, Inc. touts that $5 million of its overall $140 million in revenues came from its Wisconsin Virtual Academy operation. [SEC Prospectus, 12/12/07, pg. 69]
“This is nothing more than school profiteering’ where Wisconsin’s limited public school dollars are being shipped to a for-profit company on the other side of the country, “This out-of-state, for-profit company has already gotten $5 million out of Wisconsin and Brett Davis is trying to keep these funds flowing.”
Co-founder Bennett resigned from K12, Inc. after a September 2005 radio broadcast in which he said, “But I do know that it’s true that if you wanted to reduce crime, you could — if that were your sole purpose, you could abort every black baby in this country, and your crime rate would go down.” His resignation was announced by spokesperson Flood.