Friday, July 8, 2016

Ohio Department of Education Lets ECOT Print Money

Buried inside today's Columbus Dispatch story about The Electronic Classroom of Tomorrow suing the state is a perfect example of why Ohio's become a national joke on charter school oversight.

ECOT is suing the state to prevent it from determining if taxpayers have overpaid tens of millions of dollars to the nation's largest, for-profit school.

According to the Dispatch article, a preliminary check this spring found that "most log-in times from these files did not substantiate 5 hours per day of login time for the students reviewed." So despite the political largess of its founder -- William Lager -- it looked like ODE -- finally emboldened by the wide-ranging charter school reforms of last year's House Bill 2 -- was about to uncover some serious problems.

However, the most amazing thing we learned from the story in the Columbus Dispatch is that ODE and ECOT apparently cut a deal in 2003 after ECOT was found by the State Auditor to have been  paid $1.7 million in taxpayer money for kids it wasn't educating.

Here's the deal.


Instead of having to have kids log on to their computers for 920 hours in a school year, ECOT just had to provide them with 920 hours worth of course material. Whether the kid EVER logged on didn't matter. What mattered was whether ECOT made the material available.

Can you believe that? What a sweetheart of a deal for ECOT. They were paid $104 million last year in taxpayer dollars meant for 564 of Ohio's higher performing school districts (more than $900 million since it opened).

And all they had to do to earn nearly $1 billion is provide kids with 920 hours of learning, not make sure they did it??

And, according to documents released by ECOT, ODE was cool with this?

I don't know what's more offensive, that ECOT can do this or that ODE signed off on it.

Once again, I implore my friends in the quality-based charter school community here and around the country to speak out against this outrage committed by both ECOT and ODE. Loudly.

Want to know why Ohio's gained a nationally ridiculed reputation over charters? Look no further than this amazingly horrible oversight.

Can it be said in any other state that simply offering school to kids means you should be paid for educating them, even if they never enter your door?

Ladies and gentlemen, I give you the 2003 Ohio Department of Education.


  1. What a waste of a blog post - Logon time is not an effective way to measure attendance of online students - if you had any clue how modern day LMS systems function you would look at course completions, interactions and assessment scores for the hard data then tie it all together with teachers manual records from their live sessions. Plus you'd have to find a way to include all of the "offline" work that ECOT students including mine do too. Maybe you should "logon" to an ECOT classroom for 5 minutes to get yourself educated before spouting off at the keyboard.

  2. As the husband of an online educator, I have a pretty good understanding of how these work. Which is why I'm so outraged by ECOT getting paid $104 million without logins and ODE saying that's fine.

    1. Great! Then you should know that LMS systems are not all the same. I have learned online, taught online and evaluated/configured LMS platforms for the last 10 years. A current bid proposal I am working on involves the evaluation and selection of an LMS platform that will support 500,000+ students per year for a large government agency. The same way that all students are not the same... all LMS are not the same. In my professional opinion, ECOTs evolving system is one of the gold standards in the greater edtech industry especially in the way it allows teachers to physically engage and teach so many of Ohio's youngest minds in real time.... but you wouldn't know that. Ohio has a national educational treasure here with ECOT that you choose to attack quite regularly on the basis of a political bend and not on educational value or necessity in our state. As a self-proclaimed prophet of educational "innovation" you should invest some time away from the politics and more in the ECOT classroom to add some real experience to your opinion. And C'mon. Measuring logon time has no real connection to attendance. You know this... Your wife knows this. Why would you question ECOT for challenging this proposed measure of arbitrary 5 hour log on attendance especially knowing that the measure is just another in a long line of non-valuable and outdated measurements that don't really apply to the eschool student landscape in 2016. It's just another political maneuver and anti-choice ploy and it's obvious. You, me, we and the ODE owe it to our kids to do better. Innovators look forward not back. They don't play in the dirt and try to destroy things. They create. Innovators disrupt and improve things that are ripe for change. I'm confused as to which side of the words innovation and progress you live and work on.

    2. This sounds like the same kind of spin that we expect from Jeremy Akers and Ecotpals!

    3. This sounds like the same kind of spin that we expect from Jeremy Akers and Ecotpals!

  3. Thank you so much for the kind words. Oh, and I'm not so sure Ohio State would agree with your assessment of the platform. But that's another topic for another day. And you're right about my lack of innovation, I suppose. I guess I don't care about the system coding if the school can't graduate even 4 out of 10 kids. You're right. To me, that's not innovative. It's criminal.

  4. Well I'm just a very concerned parent and for us e-school was a god send. My child could no longer attend cps. They could not or would not protect him from the bullying and name calling that went on for years. My child would cry on school days knowing what lied ahead. Please tell me, where will my child go to school. We only have a little over a month before school starts again. Please all reasonable replies will be appreciated

  5. If ECOT closes, there are still several statewide e-School options for you. In addition, there are other brick and mortar options available, as well as open enrollment to other districts. Online can work for some kids. The problem with ECOT is that it's not working to the tune of $108 million in our hard earned tax dollars. Other options work better, in general.

  6. ODE has had it out for ECOT for years and I'm quite honestly getting sick of it! The public school systems (brick and mortar schools) are horrible around where we live and there is no way I would ever send a child to any of them.

    My daughter has been enrolled at ECOT since Kindergarten and is currently going into 5th grade. She scores as Accelerated and Advanced in her tested subjects every year and reads at a grade level 3 years higher than her current grade. Guess what, the only schooling she has ever received was from ECOT! Her teachers have always been helpful and worked with her as needed giving constant encouragement and she has been able to work through the course work on our schedule and not on some mandated amount of classroom time. I have family members that are teachers and they agree many times the countless hours spent at brick and mortar schools are unnecessary and wasted. how about the fact that at a local school kids work on class work in the classroom that ECOT isn't allowed to count due to the fact the classwork isn't requiring them to be logged in to do it.

    If people would quit believing everything they are told by an institution that hates ECOT and spent time asking legitimate questions and understanding where the majority of ECOT's student base comes from then you might begin to have a greater appreciation for what they are actually doing and understand that many times ECOT is where the troubled students end up,meaning the kids that have been kicked out of your local brick and mortar school. Also do you realize ECOT already gets reduced funding for every student when compared to a standard brick and mortar school? You don't hear any of the true statistics being quoted and it amazes me how many people blindly buy into what they are told without making an informed decision. How many of you know that Charter schools are required to teach longer every year because they are an online school? How is that fair considering my daughter tests higher than most of the kids at the local brick and mortar schools? My daughter is excelling in her course work but yet ODE acts like she isn't even being educated.

    Of the percentage of students claimed to not graduate how many of them would have even continued to come to a standard school or would they have just dropped out altogether? The whole basis of learning online is to be able to to do it at your pace and at your convenience which seems contrary to what ODE is saying they are allowed to do. How is it that a child sitting in a classroom at school doing a worksheet is counted as classwork but my daughter sitting at our kitchen table working on her printed out worksheets assigned by her teachers isn't considered class time? There are some serious double standards here. Both my wife and I have graduate degrees and if we felt like our daughter wasn't getting a good education I can promise you she wouldn't be in ECOT but as it stands there is no amount of money you could pay me to put her in our local brick and mortar schools which are a JOKE with severely crowded classrooms and a plethora of other problems. For the record both my wife and I graduated from the local schools around here which lead to us swearing we would find a better education for our daughter.

  7. As a mother of a 3rd grade ECOT student (and just enrolled my kindergartner) I want to make it clear that, paying attention to login times is NOT, let me repeat..... LOG IN TIMES WILL NOT get you any accurate information. We log in to iQuity, watch our live session, print out or turn in our work that needs to or has been completed, then SIGNOUT. Then we complete online work through Headsprout, Brain Pop Jr., Manga High, Pearson SuccessNet, Study Island, and several other websites. The time we spend on these websites is NOT recorded, it IS taken for a grade, and we have a deadline to get it turned in by. Not to mention the printed paper work. There is page after page after page that we do every week. Again, that time is NOT recorded!

  8. If you have to post as "Anonymous" (other than this post !) you must be Lager's hired gun "spinboy" Jeremy Akers himself. His weasel words and excuses are both legendary and have a definite unique characteristic (besides the heaping BS that defines them).

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