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K12 is a for-profit education company that sells online schooling and curriculum as an alternative to regular schooling.

It lobbies to replace 'bricks and mortar' classrooms with computers, and replace actual teachers with "virtual" teachers.

It was founded in 1999 by former McKinsey & Co and Goldman Sachs executive Ron Packard and former US education secretary and right-wing talk show host William Bennett.

Core Business

In the US, K12 operates online private schools, as well as providing virtual schooling through the public school system. K12 online public schooling is available in over half of US states. It is widely seen as the dominant player in the operation and expansion of full-time virtual schools.

UK Business

K12 planed to operate a number of free schools and academies in the UK, through its non-profit academy chain, The Erudition Schools Trust. It was established, according to the company, in order 'to bring the very best in innovative, technology-based education to the UK'.[1] The Erudition Schools Trust describes K12 as a 'key partner in our vision for transforming education in the UK.'

K12 entered the UK schools market in 2011. It took over the running of a three schools, all Midlands-based, and one specialist school, through the Erudition Schools Trust (currently, for-profit companies are not allowed to directly operate schools in the UK, although this may change). However, from 2015 two of its schools transfered to an alternative school chain, the Academies Transformation Trust.[2]


  • Bryan Flood (Bryan W. Flood), Senior Vice President, Public Affairs

UK executives

Former UK executives

  • Ron Packard, former director of Erudition Schools Trust; founder and ex-CEO of K12
  • James Konantz, Chair of Erudition Schools Trust Board (resigned 24 July 2015); Senior Vice President, School Services, K12


  • In the US, K12 has donated large sums to both political parties, and spent heavily on lobbying. For example, between 2004 and 2012, K12 Inc. and its employees pumped almost $1.3 million into state-level politics in 23 states and hired over 150 lobbyists.
  • It has also donated hundreds of thousands of dollars to lobby groups in favour of virtual schooling, such as the Pennsylvania Families for Public Cyber Schools, and 'Families for Better Public Schools'.
  • It has also spent millions in taxpayer dollars on advertising. USA Today revealed that K12 spent about $21.5 million in just the first eight months of 2012. It has also been accused of K12 Inc. engaging in aggressive advertising, especially on children’s TV networks. [3]

UK lobbyists

  • Liquid: Midlands-based PR and lobbying firm, Liquid, was hired in 2012 to introduced K12 to the UK.

Political connections


  • Matthew Hancock, former skills minister, visited Erudition Trust's Charles Coddy Walker Academy in April 2014, to see its approach to technology-based learning, which Hancock described as ' ground breaking advances' in education technology.[4]


Several newspaper investigations into K12, including one in 2011 by the New York Times, have concluded that the company squeezes profits from public school funding by raising enrollment, increasing teacher workload, and lowering standards.[6]

In 2012-13, US state data became available indicating poor student achievement in virtual schools, as well as high student turnover, high student-teacher radios, uncertified teachers in some states (such as Florida), and a funding formula that often gives companies extended periods of public funds for a child when the child may only stay at the online school for a brief period. This data led some educators to call for a moratorium on the growth of full-time virtual schools, such as those run by K12.[7]

In 2012, a K12 shareholder sued the company for securities fraud, alleging that the firm made false statements to investors about students' performance on standardised tests and boosted its enrollment and revenues through 'deceptive recruiting'.[8]

In 2014, a US accrediting body, the NCAA, announced that it would no longer accept coursework completed by students at virtual schools operated by K12, the first time that a major accrediting body has rejected the education offered by K12 and declared that its credits were unacceptable..[9]

See the US wiki site Sourcewatch's page on K12 for a full list of controversies in the US.[10]


  • member of American Legislative Exchange Council ALEC, a conservative lobby group that provides state lawmakers with template legislation. According to a 2014 article by Lee Fang in The Nation: 'K12 Inc.’s lobbyists helped author model legislation to develop sweeping voucher laws through the American Legislative Exchange Council. Though state by state lobbying figures are difficult to come by... K12 Inc. has hired dozens of local officials to ensure that these voucher laws are quickly passed with few amendments. “We have incurred significant lobbying costs in several states,” K12 Inc. noted in a filing with the SEC.'[11]
  • funder of Foundation for Excellence in Education; emails between FEE and conservative state education officials show that the foundation is working with public officials to write education laws that could benefit some of its corporate funders, such as K12.[12]


  1. Erudition Schools Trust website, accessed August 2015
  2. Matthew Bennett, Players in the market: K12 Inc. and the Erudition Schools Trust, Local Schools Network, 6 August 2016
  3. Greg Toppo,Online schools spend millions to attract students, USA Today, 28 November 2012
  4. Erudition Schools Trust website, accessed August 2015
  5. Ministers quarterly returns, Oct-Dec 2012
  6. Stephanie Saul, Profits and Questions at Online Charter Schools, New York Times, 12 December 2011
  7. Understanding and Improving Full-Time Virtual Schools, National Education Policy Centre, July 2012
  8. Emma Brown, Shareholder lawsuit accuses K12 Inc. of misleading investors, Washington Post, 31 January 2012
  9. Diane Ravitch,NCAA Will No Longer Accept Credits Awarded by 24 K12 Virtual Charter Schools, 22 April 2014
  10. K12 profile, Sourcewatch
  11. Lee Fang,  Venture Capitalists Are Poised to ‘Disrupt’ Everything About the Education Market, The Nation, 25 September 2014
  12. Valerie Straus, E-mails link Bush foundation, corporations and education officials, 'Washington Post', 30 January 2013