This exchange between Fairborn Councilwoman Donna Wilson and State Senator Hackett's office perfectly captures the disconnect between those wanting the best for students and those wanting campaign contributions.
Dear Senator Hackett,
The Electronic Classroom of Tomorrow (ECOT) has been failing our students for many years as evidenced by a 38.8% graduation rate. As you know, a recent audit found a verified enrollment count of 6,313 last year, nearly 60 percent less than the 15,322 the school had reported to the state. This is “theft in plain sight” as well as legalized truancy! That amounts to $60 million taken from local school districts, including $247,894 from my district, Fairborn, which taxpayers voted to be used by their own school system.
I talked with two young ladies from the Greene County Career Center who had enrolled with ECOT for a year. They said it was the worst mistake of their lives. One said she got behind in math and could never catch up even after going back to the public school because she had missed basic instruction, as there was no one at ECOT who did enough to help her understand the concepts. Another said ECOT sent her a computer that didn’t work very well and she ended up using her own computer. She also had trouble getting help from any of the “coaches.”
It is imperative that ECOT be required to return the money to our school districts! In addition, as our Senator, you must work to hold them accountable to abiding by the same procedures to which the public schools are subjected, such as submitting attendance every two weeks and being audited every year. William Lager has already made millions of dollars at the expense of many of our children. DO NOT add a “safe harbor” provision to excuse this horrible misuse of our taxes that our citizens voted for in order to educate our children.
The Aide to Senator Hackett responded:
From: Kaylor, Stephanie [mailto:Stephanie.Kaylor@ohiosenate.gov]
Sent: Wednesday, December 7, 2016 9:53 AM
Thank you for contacting Senator Hackett’s office regarding the ongoing issues between the Electronic Classroom of Tomorrow (ECOT) and the Ohio Department of Education (ODE). Senator Hackett appreciates you taking your time to share your views with him.
As you may know, the ODE’s on-going attendance audit has proven to be extremely controversial. Senator Hackett applauds the broad goal that the ODE is attempting to accomplish by improving Ohio’s online schools, while ensuring that an online education remains a viable option for students and parents. However, he is concerned that the ODE would like ECOT to codify their performance using a different measure (log-in duration), whichhas not been utilized in the past to analyze the quality of education being offered and to determine their funding. I can assure you that as this issue continues to develop, Senator Hackett will follow it closely and keep your concerns in mind.
Once again, thank you for contacting Senator Hackett’s office in regards to ECOT. Should you have any additional questions or concerns on this issue or any other state related matter, please feel free to contact Senator Hackett’s office, as his door is always open.
Stephanie Kaylor, Sr. Legislative Aide
State Senator Bob Hackett
Ms. Wilson continues to express exasperation
Dear Ms. Kaylor,
So you are saying that ECOT should not be held responsible for the amount of time that students engage in educational activities and that the only thing they are responsible for is having a computer and a log-in for any amount of time to get their money? And how might these students get any education if that’s all they do?
I have heard accounts from students (real ones) that they log-in, then go to a friend’s house where several students have agreed to meet and play video games all day. How would you consider that as an “educational” activity? They have also said that these calls from “coaches” are few and far between—then they get a call near the end of the year saying they are being kicked out of the program. How convenient when Lager has already collected the money for that student.
In other words, the only thing that matters is that William Lager is paid his tremendous sums of money for this kind of chicanery. Being “concerned that the ODE would like ECOT to codify their performance using a different measure (log-in duration), which has not been utilized in the past to analyze the quality of education being offered and to determine their funding” is preposterous and a slap in the face to our citizens, taxpayers and, most of all, those children whose education has suffered at the hands of this greedy imposter as education advocate.
It is with disgust, dismay and a deep sadness that I am writing this email. As his door is always open, I will be sure to follow up and raise these concerns with him.
Former teacher, parent, taxpayer and a real advocate for education
Well Said. You too should contact your state Representative and demand that they hold ECOT accountable.