Virtual School Meanderings

August 5, 2016

7 Day Groove Challenge – Story Entry: ECOTs and the Cyber Charter School Racket

As I mentioned on Monday, Darren Rowse over at ProBlogger has issued a 7 Days to Getting Your Blogging Groove Back challenge.  I told my EDTECH537 – Blogging In The Classroom students that I would do my best to participate in this challenge fully – as a way to model different things you can do to ensure that you have a consistent stream of original blog entries.

So Darren has posted the fourth challenge for this week – Create a Story Post.    As a story entry is not one of the ones I have had my EDTECH537 students create, I figure that I should mention that Darren describes a “Story Entry” as “a piece of content that is about a story or at least that includes a story.”  Now I’ll be honest and say that I don’t believe I’ve ever written a story entry before, but here goes…

Today a friend of mine forwarded a new item to me.

Ohio online charter school takes on state in court, on TV

AP Statehouse CorrespondentCOLUMBUS, Ohio (AP) – Ohio’s largest online charter school has taken a dispute with state education officials over access to attendance records to the courts and the airwaves, raising questions among critics over the use of taxpayer funds to fight state regulators.

Following a judge’s order, the Electronic Classroom of Tomorrow said Thursday it had turned over the sought-after records to the Ohio Department of Education. The department wants to audit the records to determine full-time student enrollment and, from there, future state funding.

Before submitting the records, the school aired a pair of ads around the state painting the department in a negative light – the same department that provides 88 percent to the school’s budget, according to state records.

“If ODE closes ECOT, where will I go?” senior Summer Muhaymin asks in one spot. She describes a transient young life sleeping in bus stations and on park benches in which the Electronic Classroom has been her “only constant.” The ad concludes with the message: “Ohio Department of Education: Keep your word. Keep ECOT open.”

The ads reinforce the claims of a lawsuit filed in a Columbus court. The action alleges the Education Department is perpetrating “a bait and switch by which it seeks to evaluate and ‘readjust’ ECOT’s funding for the 2015-2016 school year based on an improperly-promulgated ‘rule.'” It claims purposeful discrimination threatening irreparable harm to the school, which issues about one of every 20 high school diplomas in Ohio.

But the fact ECOT is likely using state education dollars to fund the lawsuit and ad campaign has escalated anger among charter school critics who have long sought more restrictions and transparency in spending by the schools.

To continue reading, click here.

The Electronic Classroom of Tomorrow or ECOT is one of the oldest cyber charter schools in Ohio (and all of the United States), and the largest cyber charter school in Ohio.  It is also a cautionary tale of the role that money can play within the cyber charter school industry (and believe me when I say industry).

While this particular news article talks about the use of public tax dollars by this “public” – and I use that term VERY loosely – school to fund both the ECOT lawsuit and the ECOT television commercials, we have seen examples in the past where we’ve learned that ECOT received over $92 million for their sub-par student performance or that a bonus check of $2.9 million that would be routed into ECOT owner William Lager’s other private businesses for receiving one “D” and seven “F”s in student performance measures.  It is important to keep in mind that the ECOT owner is a generous donor to neo-liberal legislators in the state:

In an earlier entry, I remarked that “’you have to spend money to make money?’  And when it is the taxpayers’ money, why not spent as much as you need to get the job done?”

It is interesting that this story as Kasich ascended on the national stage during the Republican primaries.  It is a story of corporate greed!  It is a story of the failure of cyber charter schooling (and of school choice in general)!  It is a story of immoral legislators interested in their own perseverance over the education of a generation of youth!  It is a story about the failure of research to impact policy!  And even though this saga isn’t new, it does appear to be continuing – at the taxpayers’ expense no doubt!

1 Comment »

  1. […] in this challenge, I have blogged about the state of cyber charter schooling in Ohio (see 7 Day Groove Challenge – Story Entry: ECOTs and the Cyber Charter School Racket).  Over the past few weeks, I have seen a couple of items posted in Education Week about this […]

    Pingback by 7 Day Groove Challenge – Discussion Starter Entry: | Virtual School Meanderings — August 7, 2016 @ 8:55 pm | Reply

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