The New York Times wrote a front-page expose of ECOT https://archive.is/iFTM5
The Electronic Classroom of Tomorrow, an online charter school based here, graduated 2,371 students last spring. At the commencement ceremony, a student speaker triumphantly told her classmates that the group was “the single-largest graduating high school class in the nation.”
ECOT Tycoon William Lager Donating Large and Living Larger On Public Education Funding
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. It is very profitable for its owner, William Lager. Despite its dismal results, the Republican speaker of the House was its graduation spoke at its graduation ceremonies. William Lager is the state’s biggest donor to Republican politicians. They have been good to him in return. He has been awarded nearly $900 million in public funds for his low-performing e-school since 2002. Pending in the legislature is a bill to regulate ECOT and similar institutions just a little bit. The chances of its passage are slim to none. Lager is a very generous man.
From 2000-2013, Lager has donated $1.4 million to Republican politicians in Ohio. Of course, he has given more since then. Lager is also the owner of two privately-held companies that provide both the management services (Altair Learning Management) and curriculum (IQ Innovations) to the online school.
This is what ECOT–the state’s lowest performing school–has received from the legislature (data supplied by Bill Phillis, former deputy state commissioner of education and now retired and relentless watchdog of education spending):
How cool is that? He gives $1.4 million to politicians, and he gets $864 million to run a school with a graduation rate of 20%, with no accountability or transparency. Now that is what you call a terrific “return on investment”!
Here is the latest from Bill Phillis of the Ohio Equity and Adequacy Coalition:
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.
The ECOT graduation ceremony VIP lineup probably sealed the doom of SB 298 [the bill to require charter school transparency].
Former governors, even Jeb Bush, state superintendents and other state officials have graced the stage of previous ECOT graduation ceremonies.
The Plunderbund article of June 6 provides some startling insights into the ECOT industry. This article should create a sense of urgency in the public education community.
Is there no no in the Ohio legislature who can stop this waste of taxpayer dollars?
Does anyone care?