Disrespected, Dismissed, and Defunded…a catch phrase that summarizes what lawmakers, the teachers‘ unions, and ODE have done to 12,000 ECOT students, their families, and 800 teachers and staff.  In today’s world, it seems that everyone needs someone to bully.  That passive/aggressive behavior is something all too many of our students understand.  It is, in fact, one of the main reasons ECOT is the school of choice for 12,000 students.  They left that environment and landed in a school where they gained respect and nurturing.  Now, it is not middle school bullies attacking and disrespecting our students and schools.  It is, instead, adults with titles of leadership who pounce upon our school and families in political campaigns and in the media. What is a child to think when voices of authority use ECOT’s closure to further their careers?  Gubernatorial candidate and Ohio Senator, Joe Schiavoni's spokesperson Rachel Coyle  bragged about it on a (now deleted/hidden) Facebook post:  “They said ECOT is too big.  Bill Lager is too rich.  We did it (closed ECOT).”  Is that the kind of leader we want to lead our state as Governor…a bully dressed in adult clothing who has no compassion for the 13,000 human lives he uprooted and brought misery to?

Fuel For Favoritism

There are many groups behind the closure of ECOT.  None of them have the interests of our students and teachers behind their attacks.  Two such groups are the two Ohio teachers’ unions: OEA (Ohio Educators Association) and AFT (American Federation of Teachers).  Follow the money…it always goes back to the money.  Both OEA and AFT collect dues from teachers in every school district in Ohio except ECOT and other charter schools.  In the public schools, teachers do not have a choice in whether they pay union dues.  They are required to do so.  Each teacher in every school in OH must pay $700 a year to belong to the union or $686 if they choose not to join.  ECOT and other charter schools are not unionized. The teachers’ unions have lobbied against ECOT for several years.  800 teachers at ECOT represent a loss to OEA and AFT of over $500,000 per year.  

Follow the money.  Relentless bullying in the media, within the Democratic legislature, and on social media finally paid off.  They spread lies and half-truths about ECOT for so long that they managed to close us.  What a victory and how ironic that organizations supposedly for teacher rights succeeded in sending 800 teachers to the unemployment line and to other social services, no longer able to practice their beloved profession or even to survive without a job.

ODE Double Standards

ODE (Ohio Department of Education) makes policy for all Ohio schools, but it does not treat all schools equally. Most of the Big 8 Urban Schools in Ohio have long-standing chronic absenteeism rates.  

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ODE devised a new attendance policy for these schools that started this year in all Ohio schools.  Each school is given a plan for improvement over a five year period.  If the schools do not improve attendance, then they will get dinged on the Attendance category on the school’s report card.  Those schools are not fined for poor attendance, even when their absenteeism rate is twice ECOT’s rate as it is for Columbus City Schools.  (see above chart),  ODE gives public schools a plan to improve while fining ECOT 80 million dollars for the same problem.  This outrageous selective enforcement of Ohio school policy by their governing entity is nothing more than bullying at the highest level, using power to selectively enforce rules designed for all but punitive for only ECOT.

Our students, teachers, and staff are the victims of our government and professional groups design to shut ECOT down.  OEA, AFT, and ODE relentlessly campaigned against ECOT through lobbying, donations to political campaigns, and manipulation of procedures and policy.  Ironically, our students are familiar with bullies and came to ECOT to escape them.  Unfortunately, it seems that bullying is not contained to school-age children.  It exists at our highest level of those who serve as watchdogs to our state’s schools. What a tragedy when bullies win and leave ECOT’s 12,000 students and 800 teachers and staff disrespected dismissed and defunded.

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ECOT is currently involved in a legal action with the Ohio Department of Education. The department is moving to limit school choice by ripping funding away from ECOT and other eSchools based on selective and retroactive enforcement of absurd attendance rules. ECOT is challenging the ODE in the Ohio Supreme Court.

We need your help. Please Take Action Now to support school choice and ECOT in Ohio.

The views, opinions and positions expressed by authors and interviewees on ECOT PALS blogs are the author's and interviewees alone, and do not necessarily reflect the views, opinions or positions of The Electronic Classroom of Tomorrow (ECOT) or any other individual or group. Would you like your opinion or story to be published on the ECOT PALS blog? Please contact us to inquire.


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