What the ECOT Lawsuit Means

The Dispatch reports that ECOT, the largest failing online charter school in the state, is suing the Department of education.

Facing the potential loss of tens of millions of dollars in taxpayer funding, Ohio's largest online charter school sued the state Friday in an attempt to block an upcoming attendance audit.

The Electronic Classroom of Tomorrow filed the lawsuit in an attempt to stop the Ohio Department of Education from requiring that the school provide records of daily student log-in times, which the lawsuit calls "a bait and switch." The state's preliminary attendance review of ECOT in May raised questions, noting that “most log-in times from these files did not substantiate 5 hours per day of log-in time for the students reviewed.”

The accuracy of attendance figures is crucial because they are the key factor in determining how much state money a school receives. ECOT gets about $107 million per year for more than 15,000 students.

Steve Dyer dissects the news to discover the true reason for the lawsuit

Instead of having to have kids log on to their computers for 920 hours in a school year, ECOT just had to provide them with 920 hours worth of course material. Whether the kid EVER logged on didn't matter. What mattered was whether ECOT made the material available.

And all they had to do to earn nearly $1 billion is provide kids with 920 hours of learning, not make sure they did it??

And, according to documents released by ECOT, ODE was cool with this?

I don't know what's more offensive, that ECOT can do this or that ODE signed off on it.

What does this mean? It means:

  1. ECOT doesn't care about its students, if it did, it would care how long and how often they are actually studying the provided material, not that it was simply provided to them.
  2. ECOT knows its students aren't spending the requisite amount of time studying, otherwise it would welcome an audit of its electronic attendance records.
  3. ODE is rotten to the core. If the alleged agreement between ECOT and ODE to allow this ridiculous arrangement is proven, ODE abandoned ECOTs students. It's the biggest scandal in ODE history.

The simple truth is this. Online only education does not work for K-12. Children require adult supervision and personal assistance in their learning journey, something online only schools are not providing.

Even with this high barrier to learning, Ohio's online charter schools are not even ensuring that their students are spending the time consuming the material necessary to learn. Instead they are cashing checks for work not performed, setting back their students years, all while draining scarce resources from the actual brick and mortar traditional schools that are inevitably picking up the pieces.

Can Ohio's politicians pull themselves away from the fat campaign checks being written by ECOT long enough to put an end to this ongoing tragedy before more students are irreparably harmed?