A year after Course Choice was made law, FastPath Learning of Austin Texas has found an opportunity for expansion in Louisiana. It's a move that has the potential to bankrupt the Webster Parish School system.
"Between April 10 and April 17, more than 200 students have signed up for this program in Minden alone," District 10 Rep. Gene Reynolds said.
"This concept of Course Choice was to offer replacement courses to high-schoolers and now FastPath is offering a supplement," said Reynolds who noted when the law was drafted, Course Choice was designed to be a total replacement for a course.
"In other words, the students wouldn't need classroom time or other resources from the school because they were taking the course from a third party," he said. "Now FastPath is offering a supplement program, billing the parish for it and the students are still using parish resources."
While free to the students participating, local school systems pick up the tab.
"The school system is required to pay for the program for the student," Reynolds said. "And there is no dedicated money to pay for this- it comes out of a school system's general fund.
"There is no cap, no limit on how many students can be enrolled or how much money they can charge the school system," Reynolds continued. "What you are looking at is losing the money to a program that has no accountability and does not replace anything the school system offers. It could bankrupt a school system."
Reynolds has received information from concerned educators in Webster Parish, one who tells him a "severe profound" student is enrolled in the FastPath program and it is very unlikely they will be able to participate in the class.
"What FastPath is doing is going door to door with a sales pitch," Reynolds said. "What concerns me is all the students who have been enrolled are black. I don't understand why the black community is being targeted, but it is a shameful business practice to say the least."
According to FastPath sales pitch, "FastPath learning provides every one of our students a tablet computer for the reading course and a personal media player for the math course. Free."
The FastPath sales pitch continues, "Students return their learning devices at the end of the school year. If students lose or break their learning tool, that's OK - parents are not responsible for replacing them, and students can still complete the course using a school computer and Internet connection."
Fast Path Learning has several job openings in Louisiana, including enrollment specialist.
According to FastPasth's website, an enrollment specialist is responsible for door-to-door program marketing, the duties of this position are primarily focused on marketing the program and enrolling students in the program, for $16 an hour.
In addition to being 18 years of age or older candidates "Should possess sensitivity to social, economic and cultural diversity, (and be) flexible in the parts of town where work is conducted."