Just a few days after the Speaker of the Ohio House of Representatives declined to take up House Bill 2 (HB 2) -- the most significant charter school reform package since the program began -- the campaign committee meant to re-elect his members got a familiar, maximum level check from William Lager, who runs the Electronic Classroom of Tomorrow (ECOT).
Not to be undone, so did the Ohio Senate's campaign committee.
Both were for $18,798.51.
ECOT is the nation's largest for-profit K-12 school. It is also notoriously poor performing. On the state's 9 report card measures, it got Fs on all but one. And that one was a D. That's worse than any school district in the state, even Youngstown, which the state said late last month was in such bad academic distress that it needed to be taken over by the state.
It is indeed sobering to realize that every single dollar going to ECOT from Youngstown is going to a worse performing school.
Last year, the state of Ohio paid ECOT $104 million to educate the 15,088 students it received from Ohio's local public schools. That $6,921 per pupil is nearly $2,500 more than the average Ohio school district received last year from the state before charters, vouchers and open enrollment were deducted.
ECOT's per pupil state funding is larger than all but 52 of Ohio's 613 school districts. And this is for an electronic school without buildings, custodians, buses, heating, cooling, sports teams, etc.
There was plenty of talk around the House Bill 2 vote that ECOT's lobbyists were all over the statehouse. Now we know why. The question now is this: Will the contributions keep House Bill 2 from moving this fall?