ECOT Teachers Required to Attend Statehouse Rally on a School Day


"B" for Bad School.
  • "B" for Bad School.
William Lager, the founder of Ohio's largest charter school, the Electronic Classroom of Tomorrow (ECOT), appeared before a crowd of his employees and other supporters at the Ohio Statehouse Tuesday, the Plain Dealer reported.

In a confounding requirement, one that would seem to undercut the value of ECOT teachers "in the classroom," attendance was mandatory.

''Traditional schools are not permitted to take teachers and staff out of the classroom for a daylong political event," said Sandy Theiss, executive director of the advocacy group ProgressOhio, in comments to the PD, "and charter schools should have to follow the same ban."

Teachers told the Columbus Dispatch last week that they objected to the mandatory attendance. One employee said that they were expected to "essentially be unpaid lobbyists for ECOT." (An ECOT spokesman clarified that the attendance was technically voluntary because there would be no consequences for failing to show up.)

Lobbying efforts are necessary because the controversial online school has been required to pay back $60 million in state funding. It has failed to justify its enrollment figures. ECOT could only document class participation of 6,300 of its 15,300 students, according to the PD.

William Lager, however, ardently defended the school he founded 18 years ago on the grounds that students prefer to take classes online.

The rally occurred amid growing concern and overwhelming evidence about the lack of effectiveness of virtual schools. A study last year on Ohio online charter schools by NYU Professor June Ahn found that, for example, a middle or elementary school student starting at the 50th percentile in math would, on average, fall to the 36th percentile after one year at a virtual school. In reading, that same student would drop to approximately the 45th percentile. The results were roughly equivalent in tenth grade.

Said Lager, at the rally: ''We're still struggling to bring the state into the 21st century."

Said one ECOT employee, to the Columbus Dispatch: “It’s taking us away from our students. What are the students going to be doing?”

Good question.

We’re keeping you informed…
...and it’s what we love to do. From local politics and culture to national news that hits close to home, Scene Magazine has been keeping Cleveland informed for years.

It’s never been more important to support local news sources, especially as we all deal with the ramifications of the coronavirus pandemic. Almost everything Scene is about -- our stories, our events, our advertisers -- comes down to getting together. With events on hold, and no print distribution for the foreseeable future, every little bit helps.

A free press means accountability and a well-informed public, and we want to keep our unique and independent reporting available for many, many years to come.

If quality journalism is important to you, please consider a donation to Scene. Every reader contribution is valuable and so appreciated, and goes directly to support our coverage of critical issues and neighborhood culture. Thank you.

Comments (2)

Showing 1-2 of 2

Add a comment

Add a comment