Ed Week: K12 Inc. Taps School Choice Advocate Kevin Chavous for Leadership Post

Originally published EdWeek – October 27, 2017

Kevin P. Chavous, a prominent backer of public and private school choice, has taken a top role for the nationwide online education management company K12 Inc.

Chavous was named president of academics, policy, and schools for the Herndon, Va., provider, which also sells curriculum and individual courses and products to families.

He is a former Washington, D.C., city council member who has held several prominent roles in education policy. Chavous is a founding board member of the American Federation for Children, a leading organization that supports school choice and private school vouchers.

U.S. Education Secretary Betsy DeVos formerly served as chairwoman of that organization.

He also was the founding board president of the Washington Latin Public Charter School in the District of Columbia. In a statement, K12 Inc. noted that Chavous had worked not only with the American Federation for Children, but also with Democrats for Education Reform, an organization that backs charters, among other policies.

Chavous is also an attorney, having worked for years as a senior partner at SNR Denton, LLP and an author of books on education.

In fiscal 2017, K12 Inc. reported nearly $890 million in revenues, an increase of 1.8 percent from the previous year. The company attributed that growth to the overall increased use of online education and an improved landscape for online schools.

“K12 is the right place for me to continue my life’s work and expand opportunities for all kids,” Chavous said in a statement.

“We have a tremendous opportunity to improve academic outcomes and expand educational choice for families. I’m excited to get back in the trenches and to work together with K12’s team of educators to make a difference in children’s lives.”

Fully online charter schools, including those operated by K12, have faced heavy scrutiny in recent years because of concerns over poor academic performance. Critics have complained that too many of those charters have been allowed to stay open despite their shortcomings.

Earlier this year, for instance, Indiana state officials gave the Hoosier Academy Virtual School, which is run by K12, another chance to make academic upgrades despite six straight years of failing grades from the state. (See my colleague Arianna Prothero’s reporting on that decision, and a broader series of stories, written with Ben Herold, about problems throughout the cyber charter industry.)

K12 officials have argued that much of that criticism is overblown. They say it ignores success stories and testimonials from parents who have been won over by the online education provided to their children. (See a full response to Education Week‘s coverage of K12 here.)

Chavous has served on K12’s board of directors but will leave that role as he takes the new position, the company said.

Stuart Udell, the CEO of K12, said in announcing Chavous’ hiring that the new hire’s experience would prove to be a “valuable asset” to the company.

“Kevin’s successful track record advancing educational opportunity for children of all backgrounds supports the K12 mission to transform learning for every student we serve,” Udell said.

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