Thursday, September 28, 2017

Shocked. Shocked, I Tell You. ECOT Owes Taxpayers MORE Money.

Put this in the Perfectly Predictable bin. Looks like the Electronic Classroom of Tomorrow (ECOT) could only account for about 81 percent of the students it billed taxpayers for "educating" last school year. And this was in a year when ECOT should have been extra careful because the year before it could only account for 40 percent of the students it billed taxpayers.

So now the school, which produces more high school dropouts than any other school in the nation, owes another $15 million ON TOP of the $60 million it already owed taxpayers. All I can say is the school should be grateful the state isn't going back for the previous 15 years of enrollment figures because if they did, ECOT would likely be shown to have fleeced Ohio taxpayers to the tune of more than a half billion dollars.

All while top state officials spoke at their graduation ceremonies -- ceremonies that included not even four out of 10 kids who were eligible to walk across the stage.

This comes on top of the news that not a single of the $103 million that went to ECOT last year from Ohio's public school districts came from a district that the school outperformed  on the state report card. And nearly one in four dollars sent to ECOT came from a school district that outperformed ECOT in every available measure.

A few more nuggets:

  • A spectacularly low 2.9 percent of ECOT's 2010 graduates had a college degree within 6 years of graduation. Only New Miami Local in Butler County had a lower rate among Ohio's 613 school districts.
  • An even more spectacularly low 0.3 percent of ECOT students attained an industry recognized credential. Most of the 24 school districts with the same or lower rates are districts like Hudson and Dublin that are wealthy and whose students are geared toward college, as that group's 40 percent rate of attaining college degrees within 6 years indicates (as noted above, ECOT's rate as 2.9 percent)
  • Their Performance Index score -- the accumulated index the state uses to determine  proficiency -- was lower than any district
  • The school's student growth index was -39.5. A score between -1 and 1 is considered a year of growth
  • ECOT -- a virtual school without walls, buses, lunch ladies, or janitors -- received $7,291 per pupil in state funding last school year -- an amount greater than 85 percent of school districts. And if they did not educate 19 percent of their students as the Ohio Department of Education now claims, their per pupil funding for the kids that they did "educate" jumps to $8,923 -- an amount greater than 96 percent of Ohio school districts
This school is an embarrassment to this state. And even to this nation. The Ohio General Assembly has allowed this hog to wallow far too long. It's time to shut down this school. I'm sorry. I'm sure some kids have been saved at ECOT. I'm sure some parents love it. It's these parents and kids who should be most upset with ECOT's continued bumbling and malfeasance, though, not we who report its existence. 

All I lost were my tax dollars. 

But every time ECOT does something like this, it harms these students' diplomas and what I'm sure was a lot of hard work. But remember this is not these kids' or parents' fault; it is the fault of Bill Lager -- the politically connected ECOT founder and for-profit operator who Ohio's taxpayers have made a millionaire many times over; it is the fault of the Educational Service Center of Lake Erie West, who could instantly solve this issue by canceling its oversight of the school, but instead has pushed to give the school an easier report card; and it is the fault of compliant politicians who thought it was more important to keep a campaign finance gravy train going than it was to stand up for kids.

State Auditor David Yost, for example, has been coming down hard recently on ECOT. But here's what he said just two short years ago (remember, I and we at Innovation Ohio reported as far back as 2011 that ECOT and Ohio's other eSchools were a problem):
"It's not your failure that defines you. It's the success that flowed from your decision to enroll in ECOT ... You tell them I'm the employee you're looking for. I'm organized and I'm disciplined and I get the job done because that's the way we do it at ECOT."


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