Wednesday, July 11, 2018

Did State Policymakers Create Fund that ECOT Used to Pay Students to take Tests and Attend Graduation?

There's been plenty of justifiable outrage over the news that the Electronic Classroom of Tomorrow used taxpayer money to pay $25 to $50 for students to take state-mandated tests and attend its much ballyhooed graduation ceremonies, which often had powerful state politicians speaking.

However, missing in the reporting has been this little nugget: In the 2015 budget, for the first time ever, Ohio e-schools like ECOT were granted $25 a student for "facilities funding" -- funding e-schools still get, by the way. You might wonder what a school whose hallmark is that it's not in a building gets money for buildings like schools that are actually housed in buildings.

And you'd be right to wonder.

Here's what the Ohio Alliance of Public Charter Schools -- who in 2015 was the largest charter school advocacy group -- said about this change in 2015:
"Also provides a first time supplement for E-schools in each fiscal year of $25 per-pupil to aid with testing and counseling centers"
So the money was to be used to assist with finding testing and counseling centers.

That $25 sure matches with ECOT's policy to pay students $25 to take tests, doesn't it? So perhaps ECOT was simply taking the path the state legislature, who relied on campaign funds from ECOT founder Bill Lager, cleared for them with this crazy facilities funding.

Since it was passed, ECOT collected $873,281 in facilities funding. How much of that do you want to bet ended up paying for kids to take tests or attend graduation?

It was stunning, frankly to see in NBC 4's report that Ron Packard -- who has a history of funding some pretty smarmy stuff -- now says he's offended ECOT made these payments. But let's not kid each other here: the state legislature who was so dependent upon Lager's political largess did him a solid by kicking him $25 a kid for "testing facilities", which it looks like ECOT simply turned into money for students to take tests all kids in Ohio are required to take.

Imagine if a local public school district had done this. Imagine the frog marches for that district's public officials. Amazing.