COLUMBUS – Today, Senate Minority Leader Joe Schiavoni condemned a lawsuit filed by the Electronic Classroom Of Tomorrow (ECOT) to block the Ohio Department of Education (ODE) from doing a full audit of the school’s attendance records. ECOT argues in the lawsuit that they are not required to “provide” education to their students. They assert that they are only required to “offer,” or place, the courses online.
“This lawsuit is ECOT’s Hail Mary. It is a desperate attempt to cover up the fraud they are perpetrating on the students and taxpayers of our state,” said Senator Schiavoni. “ECOT is required by law to provide a proper education to their students. With this lawsuit, ECOT is admitting that they have something to hide.”
ECOT is Ohio’s largest online charter school. It receives about $107 million from the state per year to educate over 15,000 students. According to a recent national report, ECOT currently has one of the worst graduation rates in the country. Last year, writes the New York Times, “the school’s graduation rate did not even reach 39 percent.”
“ECOT is actually asserting in their lawsuit that they are not required to teach any student anything. But they still demand the hundreds of millions in taxpayer dollars taken each year from our public schools,” said Senator Schiavoni. “They have now added high-priced lawyers to their army of high-priced lobbyists.”
Senator Schiavoni’s Senate Bill 298 would require e-schools to accurately track and report student attendance in order to ensure that students were logged on and learning. The bill has received four hearings in the Senate Finance Committee, but has yet to receive a vote.
The Dispatch printed my letter to the editor today:
ECOT hangs on for a reason
What do Ohioans get from Lager’s taxpayer-funded Electronic Classroom of Tomorrow and subsequent taxpayer-funded political donations? More students drop out of ECOT or fail to finish high school within four years than at any other school in the country.
Lager’s ECOT charter school is so bad that even The New York Times featured an article on May 18 outlining the questionable practices and sky-high dropout rates.
At what point in time does a political contribution become a bribe?
Below is a screen capture of a spreadsheet from the Ohio Secretary of State’s website. (I typed in “Lager” into the search field and changed the dates to 01/01/2015 to 12/31/2015.) I removed the columns that had irrelevant info, like addresses and such, so you could better view the important information. And it fits on the screen better.
In 2016, ECOT’s owner gave away $210,085 in political donations.
MUST. BE. NICE.
Actually he didn’t give it away. I’m sure he’s expecting something in return, like maybe stalling SB 298, to prevent him from being held accountable?
There has got to be an ethics violation in here somewhere. William Lager gave $210,000 this year in donations, is given millions in tax dollars, and runs the school with the lowest graduation rate in the country, and the politicians he supports celebrate his successes?
A post on the Facebook page of the chairman of the House Education Committee, Andrew Brenner
“I attended the ECOT graduation today. Cliff Rosenberger was the keynote speaker. It was impressive.”
Bill Lager, the ECOT man, certainly knows how to gain the favor of state officials. The June 5 ECOT graduation speaker was Cliff Rosenberger, the Speaker of the House. Senator Coley introduced the speaker. Senator Coley is on the Senate Finance Committee where SB 298 was blocked from passage this spring. This bill requires online charters to verify they are serving the students for which they receive funding.
Education expert Diane Ravitch picks up on the corrupt ethics of Ohio’s legislative leaders and ECOT’s owner.
The online charter school has an on-time graduation rate of 20%. Students get credit for “participation” if they log in for only one minute.
Despite ECOT having the worst graduation rate in the country, Ohio’s devious leaders celebrate the school and the low percentage of students who do graduate.
Why is this? Follow the money…
From 2000-2013, William Lager, ECOT’s owner, has donated $1.4 million to Republican politicians in Ohio. Of course, he has given more since then.
What screams UNETHICAL more than this?
NOPE. Cyber charter schools, like ECOT, can’t claim their failures are because of poverty anymore. Even though they try.
Lobbyist Neil Clark, spokesman for the Electronic Classroom of Tomorrow, is throwing to the wind the mantras of “all kids can learn” and “stop making excuses for failure” that prevailed during the birth of Ohio’s charter schools.
A recent CREDO report on e-schools shows that e-schools have the same poverty problems as common public schools, but ECOT’s graduation rate is still the lowest in the country.
From the CREDO study:
ECOT’s advertising campaign has obviously kicked in, starting in 2008, and has been drawing in students from all over Ohio. So now that the poverty level is similar between ECOT and Public Schools, what is their excuse for 62% of their students not graduating?
So much for “every student can learn,” and how about that whole accountability thing.