Get With the Times: The Individualization of Education

In the following video, Ronald Packard, CEO and founder of K12, sits down with Motley Fool analyst Matt Argersinger and explains the value and the need for individualized education.

A transcript follows the video.

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Matt Argersinger: So stepping back, the for-profit education industry, I wouldn't say it's controversial, but it certainly -- it's had its detractors in recent years. Has that spilled over to you guys at all, or is it you guys just operate in totally different space, and so are really not hindered by it at all?

Ronald Packard: I think "yes" to both of those. I think it has; we certainly, from a market valuation, have been dragged down with a lot of the college sector. They are very different businesses, so what they do is different. We save taxpayers money. Our schools are, on average, 30, 40% cheaper than what the taxpayers would pay for a brick-and-mortar school, on average, so we're savings to taxpayers.

We also build great stuff, and it's pretty visible when you see it. There are some great for-profit college companies, but others have cut a lot of corners. So I think we are dragged down with it from a market valuation point of view, but it's an incredibly different business. There are no public company comparisons, anything like ours.

Argersinger: Right, because unlike most, states and municipalities are your biggest customers.

Packard: They are our biggest customers. We have customers who are states. We have customers who are school districts. Customers who are schools, teachers, and parents and students, so we have a pretty large customer set, and our job is to serve all of them. We're not here to compete with school systems; we're here to help state schools fulfill their promise of an appropriate education for every child, and a lot of people think of this as online education, technology-based education. I think of technology as the empowerment of individualization of education.

So there's a concept prior to Internet and computers called differentiated instruction, which meant a teacher would teach to different kids based on where they are. Well, technology's the ultimate form of that. We can now make education individualized. When we're looking at remediating math, we're moving to a world where you might have a hundred thousand kids who need remediation; they have a hundred thousand different curriculums that personalized to your specific needs.

When you get to high school, if you want to be an Oracle database designer, we can teach you that in high school. So rather than having 20 electives or 30 electives, we'll end up having thousands of high school electives, and it's so exciting where the world's going. A child living anywhere is going to be everything they want to be, and that's powerful. So think of it not as technology; think of it as the individualization of education.

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