A recent New York Times article by Motoko Rich, “Online School Enriches Affiliated Companies if Not Its Students,” ripped the Electronic Classroom of Tomorrow’s (ECOT) financial enrichment on the backs of students. http://www.nytimes.com/2016/05/19/us/online-charter-schools-electronic-classroom-of-tomorrow.html
ECOT has sucked $880,109,892.26 out of school districts since 2002. Possibly the “take” will be near $1 billion by next year.
Who should be embarrassed and held accountable?
The ECOT operator should be embarrassed and held accountable for his money-making scheme that uses students for that purpose. But who else should be highlighted as a contributor to this ECOT fiscal parasite on Ohio school districts?
The most obvious offender is the bevy of legislators and governors who created and continues to support laws that sanction this license to steal.
The next offender is the Ohio Department of Education (ODE) (State Superintendent of Public Instruction, State Board of Education and ODE staff). ODE should have been aggressively monitoring online schools and making recommendations to the governors and legislatures to correct the abuses inherent in the ECOT business plan.
The sponsor of ECOT failed miserably in their fiduciary responsibility. Sponsors typically take 3% of the charter school funds siphoned from school districts for their charters. In this case, the sponsor has likely been paid in the range of $27 million to monitor the ECOT deal.
The public common school community and the allied organizations share some of the blame for the waste and corruption in the online charter industry for failure to influence state officials to stop the scandal.
Monumental questions loom.
Will this NY Times exposé of ECOT affect the outcome of the current legislation (SB 298) pending in the Senate Finance Committee to tighten regulations on the online charter operations?
Will ECOT’s huge campaign contributions bury the bill and any future attempts to bring this enterprise under control?
Please speak up by emailing the members of the Ohio Senate Finance Committee, and tell them to make sure that ECOT’s lobbyists don’t block SB 298, the bill sponsored by Senator Joe Schiavoni, to eliminate state reimbursements of more than $6,000 per pupil to the online schools for phantom students who don’t really attend school. http://ohiosenate.gov/committee/finance