Once again Valerie Strauss and Carol Burris partner to publish unfounded claims and incorrect information about Learn4Life. And as they have always done when it comes to their pieces on Learn4Life, they ignored standards of journalistic integrity to provide article subjects a chance to respond or correct misinformation.
Here is the truth about how the nonprofit charters under the Learn4Life brand qualified and applied for PPP loans.
In anticipation of stay at home orders, we surveyed all of our students to understand their technology capabilities and access. We learned that more than 85% of our 23,000 students did not have a device or access to internet outside of school.
Contrary to claims made in the article, we are not eligible for, nor did we claim, any relief from the CARES Act. We do not receive federal funding and we are ineligible for low-interest loans that traditional public schools have access to such as TRANS loans.
Once sheltering ordinances were announced, we immediately shifted to remote learning. Learn4Life’s flexible model of personalized learning made it possible to transition our 23,000+ students from on-site learning to distance learning in 48 hours.
We incurred significant unbudgeted costs to continue learning uninterrupted. Our costs included: purchasing and distributing 20,000 laptops and 15,000 hotspots; baby supplies for hundreds of parenting students; new online curriculum and learning tools; and retrofitting 100 school sites to maintain physical distancing and sanitizing/safety standards.
We sought PPP loans to protect our teachers, counselors and tutors, so they could keep our at-risk students engaged and not falling backwards into the dropout cycle – and we have not laid off any employees since the pandemic began.
The charter schools that operate under the Learn4Life brand name are distinct nonprofit organizations with separate independent governing boards and budgets. Each school applied for, qualified for and was approved for participation in the PPP program while accurately disclosing all affiliate organizations. The total was $23M, not the $51.7M that was incorrectly reported.
We have endured endless attacks by Carol Burris and Valerie Strauss over the years. The fact is we have gone through multiple, independent reviews and audits without any findings. In addition to each charter’s five-year renewal process with its authorizer that requires full transparency of internal operations, we recently were audited by state-appointed agencies (JLAC and FCMAT) with no findings of misappropriations or misconduct.
Our students come to us on average more than a year behind in school and 80+ days out of school. Most read a 5th grade level. 84% are socio-economically disadvantaged. 82% are minorities. 60% are too old to attend high school. 17% are students with disabilities – that exceeds the California state average of 11.5%. 10% are homeless, foster or migrant students. 16% are pregnant or parenting. Our foster student grad rate is 77%, exceeding the California state average of 59%.
We provide all materials, individual tutoring, mentorship, technology, experiential learning trips, labs, job skills training and food at no cost to the student.