As the fight for school choice rages on in Ohio, the most informed and important voices of actual parents, students and teachers are often lost or buried somewhere along the way. Kimberly Taylor, an ECOT Special Needs teacher reminds us who and what this debate should be focused on in her recent and very powerful Facebook comment

Kimberly Taylor "The alarm rings at 5am. I jump out of bed, shower, throw down a quick protein drink and make an extra strong pot of coffee. I am going to need it because I worked until midnight preparing for the day ahead. You see, today, I have 18 children relying on me. When each of them gets out of bed, they know that I will be there waiting for them, making sure that they are safe, respected, cared for, valued, important, and finally, that each of them will learn something from me that day. Each child is very different. They all have many different needs and it is my job to determine exactly what those needs are so that I can give each of them what is essential to make them the best that they can be. Throughout the day, I witness so many emotions, feelings, reactions, sentiments, thoughts, and ideas. At times it might be a frustrated child who cannot accomplish something on his or her first attempt. Or it might be a frightened child who is afraid to attempt something for fear of being teased. Other times it is that awesome feeling of seeing one of the children finally tear down that wall he has been hiding behind for years and taking a risk. Or just as gratifying, witnessing that light-bulb moment when that child who once thought they would never be able to read, fluently reads an entire page of a chapter book. 
Yes, I am a parent; however, what I have just described to you is a very small portion of my day as an ECOT teacher. 

As a current ECOT Special Needs teacher, I have seen firsthand the positive effect that online school can have on a student. It is true that online learning is not for every student, but it absolutely is the right choice for many students. Not only is it the right choice, but it is oftentimes the last and only choice for students. The students we educate each and every day vary greatly. Oftentimes, parents choose to send their children to ECOT because they no longer feel comfortable with the public school choice in their neighborhood for one reason or another. At times it is because they want to remove their children from the violence that can take place in the schools. Other times it is the unsafe walking route or bus ride they must travel to get to school. It is almost always the drug and alcohol peer pressure from which the kids must battle. Many have been bullied to the point that even the thought of returning to a brick and mortar school sends the child into extreme panic attacks and unhealthy anxiety. Other students have severe health issues that cause him or her to miss too many days of school to be successful in a brick and mortar school, whereas they can attend school at ECOT in the comfort of their own home without worry about excessive absences. Some students are jump-starting early careers, such as acting, professional gymnasts, musicians, and more and are on the road training, and the convenience of ECOT allows them to take their “school” with them.  

No matter the reason, many families choose ECOT and many decide to stay with ECOT. What will happen to all of these students if ECOT closes? It is about time that someone, other than ECOT, starts thinking about the children. They are the ones who really matter and they are our future."

ECOT is a school that has grown to be one of the largest K-12 online schools on Earth. It has grown on the backs of the school choices that 10's of thousands of parents, students and educators have made for over 15 years in Ohio. As a result, ECOT has become the political punching bag and main target for those who wish to slow the growth and acceptance of schools that are breaking away from the traditional model. We started ECOT PALS to give a platform to those whose voices have been marginalized in this fight.