Several of the follow up news stories about the potential closing of the Electronic Classroom of Tomorrow are focusing on the potential impact on local school districts. What happens if 12,000 students suddenly show up for school next week who weren't there before?
But this assumes there are actually 12,000 students at ECOT -- a dubious proposition given the school's history of playing enrollment games. My guess is many of those 12,000 students will migrate to one of the other half dozen or so statewide online schools -- some of which actually perform worse than ECOT, if you can believe that.
Another group will probably become home schoolers.
Another group will look for vouchers or brick and mortar charter schools.
Which leaves a much smaller group of potential additions to school district enrollment rolls next week. Ever since ECOT warned they may shut down this year, I know many districts have made preparations to handle the potential influx. And while some districts have more than 1,000 students going to ECOT, because 95 percent of Ohio's 613 school districts lost money and students to ECOT, the numbers for each district are actually pretty low -- about 20 students is the average if you divide the students by the number of districts.
So while some may fret about the huge influx of kids, I'm not so sure that will be the case. Which is why I love reading what Mark Williamson at Akron Public Schools said in response to a reporter's question about what Akron will do if the 200 kids it lost to ECOT this year return:
"We saved them all seats."Normally, I'd say that's just one guy's opinion, but this is the attitude I've heard for years from school districts around the state: We don't care how many kids there are or whether we get all the money we need to educate them. Just let us take and rescue these kids from ECOT. And for good reason. The graph on the left shows you just how poorly ECOT educates kids.
I heard it 10 years ago when I served in the Ohio House. And I'm glad I still hear it today. Ohio's school districts and teachers are remarkably resilient. But more important, they're simply remarkable. They teach kids because they want to see them learn. And when those kids are in a place that doesn't value learning, Ohio's great teachers and education leaders simply want the kids in a place where they can learn, which is most assuredly NOT at ECOT.
In several days, 12,000 Ohio school children may finally be rescued from the academic disaster that is ECOT. And that, I'm proud to say, is a great thing.