Whitney Tilson, Hedge-Fund Manager & Ed Reformer, on K12 Inc, Teach for America, and the Meaning of “Education Reform”

The Education Town Hall, October 31

“We’ve allowed…deep, deep inequalities” in our education system, Whitney Tilson told host Thomas Byrd on the October 31 edition of The Education Town Hall. “This is profoundly wrong,” and it is what has motivated his many years as an “ed reformer by night,” while continuing as a hedge-fund manager by day.

Tilson discussed his “short” position on K12 stock and his belief that the online learning industry has “run amok.” He does not take credit, however, for the stock’s lowered value, linking that with enrollment/growth numbers instead.

NASDAQ report
NASDAQ report on K12, from Education Week’s ‘Learning Hard…Lessons'”

“A company can skimp on education to make more profits, and this has to be watched,” Tilson said, speaking more generally to for-profit education companies.

In addition, the discussion ranged over issues including teacher training, Teach for America, and many related topics.

Please note that K12 Inc. was invited to participate or share a statement but declined.

K12 and Tilson Background

Here’s the October 3 WeActEd report, complete with link to Tilson’s 130-page presentation on K12 finances and its education and enrollment models.

Here is another financial analyst’s response to Tilson, “What the Short Case Gets Wrong.”

For additional background, please see Education Week’s article, K12 Inc. Learning Hard Management, Financial Lessons. (Read before Friday, 11/1, for full, free access.)

Whitney Tilson’s blogs — A Right Denied and EdReform

The Education Town Hall is broadcast Thursdays at 11 a.m. (Eastern) on We Act Radio.

Listen on-line at We Act Radio

In the DC Metro Area: WPWC 1480 AM

Full recordings are archived for later discussion and sharing. Comments and guest blogs also welcome.

Whitney Tilson’s blogs — A Right Denied and EdReform

Whitney Tilson spent much of his childhood in Tanzania and Nicaragua. His parents, both educators, were among the first couples to meet and marry in the Peace Corps, and have retired in Kenya. Consequently, Mr. Tilson is involved with a number of charities focused on education reform and Africa.
He was among the first people to join Wendy Kopp in 1989 to launch Teach For America.

He serves on the boards of the National Alliance for Public Charter Schools and the KIPP Academy charter school in the South Bronx, which is part of a national network of 109 college preparatory public charter schools in low-income communities.

He is one of the founders of Democrats for Education Reform, which aims to move the Democratic Party to embrace genuine school reform.
He co-founded Rewarding Achievement (REACH), which helps students at 31 inner-city high schools pass Advanced Placement exams.

In addition, Mr. Tilson developed a 253-slide presentation, entitled “A Right Denied: The Critical Need for Genuine School Reform, ”that has also been made into a documentary. He blogs on education reform and writes a column in the Huffington Post.

In his day job, so to speak, Mr. Tilson is the founder and Managing Partner of T2 Partners LLC and the Tilson Mutual Funds. Mr. Tilson is also the co-founder, Chairman and co-Editor-in-Chief of Value Investor Insight, an investment newsletter, and is the co-founder and Chairman of the Value Investing Congress, a biannual investment conference in New York City and Los Angeles.

He lives in Manhattan with his wife and three daughters.
— Biography culled from public sources


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