Tuesday, February 9, 2021

CURMUDGUCATION: PA: A Reminder That Charter Schools Are Businesses

CURMUDGUCATION: PA: A Reminder That Charter Schools Are Businesses
PA: A Reminder That Charter Schools Are Businesses

Who do you suppose might have said the following:

During the last few years, we’ve created a complete business ecosystem at The Waterfront. This strategic purchase was the natural next step as we continue to expand our operations.

A: A classroom teacher
B: A building principal
C: A corporate VP in charge of mergers and acquisitions
D: The CEO of a cyber charter school

The answer is D, and the speaker is Thomas LongeneckerLongenecker is the CEO (former COO) and president of Commonwealth Charter Academy (CCA); he's also an adjunct professor of school finance and school law at Wilkes University, a PA university that specializes in online degrees. Before all that, he was business chief at two different school districts. His LinkedIn profile has a 13-year gap between his college graduation with a BA in business and his first school district job. 

CCA was launched in 2003 and has become the biggest cyber charter in PA. Their website leans heavily on the "It's free!" angle. They used to be called Commonwealth Connections Academy until 2016, and the website under that name is still live. Because--the name change coincided with the dropping of Connections Academy LLC as their education  program provider, but Connections Academy remains one of the Pearson cyber school brands still busily working the ed biz. Commonwealth Connections, owned by Pearson, at one point employed a guy named Mickey Revenaugh as a lobbyist; Revenaugh was also the corporate chair of the ALEC education task force. It gets confusing--CCA's 2017 990  shows them contracting with Pearson for $24 million worth of learning management platforms; that's less than half of the $54 million they spent in 2016, but it's not like they completely cut the cord. And previous year's costs for Commonwealth Connections to run CCA were in the $21 million range. 

Tracking personnel is tricky-- Longenecker's LinkedIn profile has him becoming CEO in 2019, but the previous CEO (Maurice Flurie) didn't leave the post till July of 2020. Flurie previously turned up CONTINUE READING: CURMUDGUCATION: PA: A Reminder That Charter Schools Are Businesses