During the course of the hearings, George Wood -- a principal in the Federal Hocking school district -- was asked a pertinent question by my ranking member at the time Seth Morgan. Morgan asked Wood if he knew there would be no additional money, would he take back the kids from failing charter schools.
Wood (who is now Federal Hocking's superintendent) said, without a second of hesitation, "Yes. Let me save the kids." Wood was so concerned about the education kids in his district weren't getting in charters that he would take them back without any funding. There was only one school he called out by name that evening -- ECOT.
I admit, at the time, I didn't know much about ECOT. But the whole world knows about it now. That's because the country's newspaper of record -- the New York Times -- has revealed that ECOT causes more dropouts than any other school in the country. And the guy running it -- William Lager -- is making a ton of money doing it.
Is it shocking that Lager is one of the largest political contributors in the state? Of course not.
My issues with ECOT are no secret. I repeat them in the Times story.
I won't re-hash Ohio's sordid affair with Mr. Lager's cash cow. However, I will say this: It's time for ECOT to close. This school -- the nation's largest run by a for-profit entity -- is a national embarrassment. Their excuse for failing to graduate even 40% of their kids -- that they receive tough kids to educate -- is the exact argument urban districts made 20 years ago at the charter school movement's birth. And it was that argument that drove many into the warm embrace of the "no excuses" movement.
ECOT takes kids from nearly every district in the state, yet it wants to only be compared with urban districts, whose far greater challenges would crush Lager's feeble operation.
The bottom line for me is this: it is a crime that what Lager is doing isn't illegal.
I was beyond encouraged by state Sen. Peggy Lehner's response to the Times. Lehner is the chairwoman of the Senate Education Committee.
".. at some point, you have to say your model isn't working, and if your model is not working, perhaps public dollars shouldn't be going to pay for it."Exactly, Madam Chair.