Rich, Motoko. The New York Times. May 18, 2016. http://www.nytimes.com/2016/05/19/us/online-charter-schools-electronic-classroom-of-tomorrow.html?_r=0
The New York Times highlights ECOT, in a scathing article, about their graduation rate being the lowest in the United States, which include Ohio cities like Cleveland and Youngtown. ECOT’s very rich owner, William Lager, declined to comment for the article.
More students drop out of the Electronic Classroom or fail to finish high school within four years than at any other school in the country, according to federal data.
Even as the national on-time graduation rate has hit a record high of 82 percent, publicly funded online schools like the Electronic Classroom have become the new dropout factories.
When students enroll in the Electronic Classroom or in other online charters, a proportion of the state money allotted for each pupil is redirected from traditional school districts to the cyberschools. At the Electronic Classroom, which Mr. Lager founded in 2000, the money has been used to help enrich for-profit companies that he leads. Those companies provide school services, including instructional materials and public relations.
For example, in the 2014 fiscal year, the last year for which federal tax filings were available, the school paid the companies associated with Mr. Lager nearly $23 million, or about one-fifth of the nearly $115 million in government funds it took in.
Critics say the companies associated with Mr. Lager have not delivered much value. “I don’t begrudge people making money if they really can build a better mousetrap,” said Stephen Dyer, a former Ohio state legislator and the education policy fellow at Innovation Ohio, a Columbus think tank that is sharply critical of online charter schools.