Thursday, October 19, 2017

Ohio GOP Legislators: Pay schools even if kids aren't there

Well it's come to this: Former Ohio legislators are now telling the Ohio Supreme Court that the state should pay schools for kids the schools says are there, even if they really aren't.

The filing was made on behalf of five former Republican members of the Ohio General Assembly earlier this month in a case that could well determine the very existence of Ohio's largest virtual school and the nation's largest dropout factory.

Does it surprise you that these legislators (according to Follow the Money) have received more than $50,000 in campaign contributions from Electronic Classroom of Tomorrow founder William Lager, and nearly $135,000 total from Lager and David Brennan -- Ohio's charter school Godfather?

In fact, the lead legislator on the filing is William Batchelder -- one of the longest serving state legislators in history who was Brennan's bag man on Ohio's school voucher legislation in the mid-1990s. Batchelder left the legislature in 2014. Shortly after that, he fell into a new job -- lobbying for Bill Lager. Makes sense. Lager had paid him $45,000 (not to mention the tens of thousands he paid to the Ohio House Republican Caucus during Batchelder's time as Speaker of the House). Batchelder collected $67,000 from Brennan, and even more if you include Brennan's wife, Ann.

The second legislator named is Chuck Calvert, who left the legislature the year I was elected, so I never really knew him. But he was the powerful chairman of the House Finance Committee for years. He collected $6,000 each from Lager and Brennan.

Then there's Mike Gilb -- a lawmaker from Northwest Ohio who took $4,000 from Brennan.

Jim Trakas is next, who collected $5,000 from Brennan and is now running dropout recovery schools in Cleveland that graduated 26 of 142 possible students last year.

Finally, Bryan Williams, who is now the Summit County Republican Party Chairman, replacing longtime Chairman Alex Arshinkoff. Here's a profile of Williams on the 3rd Rail Politics website, which has deep connections with ECOT and its officials. Williams took money from Brennan during his time in the legislature, which ended in 2004.

But this isn't the only issue here. What these legislators are saying is when they developed the state's nationally ridiculed charter school funding and accountability system, they didn't mean for the Ohio Department of Education to check whether the kids charter schools were claiming to educate were actually being educated. All that mattered was whether the schools claimed that the students were there.

I kid you not. These former legislators are all arguing that they meant for ECOT to get their money regardless of whether the student was even participating in an educational program at ECOT.

What an indictment of our state's charter school regime.

Oh, did I mention that four of the seven Ohio Supreme Court Justices hearing the ECOT case have taken money from Lager (Justices O'Connor, O'Donnell, French and DeWine)?

Is it any wonder why Ohio's charter school funding system feels so rigged against taxpayers? And why schools like ECOT, which perform so poorly yet are paid so richly, are such a subject of national scorn?

One more interesting and telling thing about the filing: No current legislators signed onto it.


  1. Well, you have to give these guys some credit for being so devious and money grubbers. They know without a scintilla of doubt that this entire Charter Corporation was a monetary windall. Money for nothing and your checks for free!! Even though my conscience convicts me when I think about joining in, I sometimes think we all should start charters and simply wallow in the tax money that was initially intended for Ohio's children. Let's just all start Online Charter Schools, become corporations and managing companies, create our own curriculum providers so we can pay ourselves. Hire our relatives, buy houses all over the country, and then tell everyone everyday that we just love the children so much. In my opinion, these guys have hurdled their own conscience, burned them into ashes, and have no idea what they are really doing. I really think they believe what they are doing is noble. Who wants to start and Online Charter? Just kidding. My conscience is just way to much alive and far from being scorched. Enjoy your windfalls hot-shots. I can just feel the oozing of love for kids creeping out from under your skin.

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