Happy New Year ECOT PALS!

Our favorite part of New Years is that once every year, all of us pause to look back before we charge forward. We get our well-deserved annual break to reflect and make resolutions to do more, do less, do differently or take on a new challenge in the year to come.

When it comes to the fight for fair treatment of our school and respect of our school choices, It’s been quite a year. It’s been quite a fight. 

We started organizing the ECOT PALS community this past February on a mission "to build a vibrant community of supporters, advocates and outspoken evangelists for ECOT and public school choice in the State of Ohio."

For years, battles have raged on over the necessity and effectiveness of charter schools in our state and all across the country. These battles are usually centered around greed and blind protectionism of the cookie-cutter traditional education model. They're fueled by misinformation, lies, politics and are fought in the media, behind the doors of legislature and even between uninformed citizen neighbors. Sadly, the voices of actual charter students, parents, teachers and staff are rarely represented in these debates.

ECOT PALS purpose is to bring some humanity to these discussions.

Thanks to the support and involvement of folks like you, we've stayed true to our mission and purpose while making a major impact this past year.

Establishing Our Voices & Defending Our Choices

In 2016, our community grew from 0 to over 4,200 connections. The best part is that this community has grown on the backs of the unedited personal stories, experiences and perspectives of real families, students, grads and educators..... not on the agenda of some politcal sponsor or paid interest. It's grown on the backs of volunteer work and collaboration between real people who have real skin in the game and credible experience with the school choice issue. We're exercising our own voices to cut through the noise, correct the lies and expose the truth about ECOT and the now decades-running demands by Ohioans for schools that break away from the traditional model. 

In 2016, hundreds of you submitted your personal stories and testimonials that we distributed via our website and blog posts, email campaigns, #schoolchoice tweets and other channels. Hundreds more of you contacted your legislators, The Ohio Department of Education and submitted letters to the editors with news outlets across the state. Some of you volunteered your time to help online, at events and many more of you have consistently just been there to defend us, offer your support or share our stories farther. All of our work this year deserves one huge group Thank You.

What We Learned

2016 Favorite Photo - ECOT Graduation Ceremony

2016 Favorite Photo - ECOT Graduation Ceremony

In 2016, we confirmed what we always believed to be true. First, there's a lot of us. Second, we learned that while each of our personal relations to ECOT are unique, we share a common experience with a school that has evolved to meet the needs of such a diverse set of students. We may not share the same politics, socioeconomic statuses or sets of circumstances but we do share a desire to fight for our right to choose, fair treatment of our school and our student's rights to a public education that works best for them. 

We also learned a lot about what and who we're up against.

2016 was a year where we witnessed relentless highly-coordinated attacks against ECOT across multiple fronts. We saw elected officials not only dismiss but also censor the voices of their own constituents. We saw hundreds maybe thousands (depending on how you tally them up) of examples of lies, distortions and sins of omission in reporting about ECOT and school choice that were peddled and endlessly regurgitated by local, state and national news media. We saw anti-school-choice operatives, think tanks and their various alter-identities acting on political agendas to viciously attack our voices across social media channels. We saw a handful of traditional school superintendents point fingers and throw temper tantrums in an effort to deflect attention from their own struggles as they tried to bully eschools out of business. We’re even watching now as our own Ohio Department of Education ignores our calls, emails, the facts and completely disregards our school choices all while trying to unlawfully displace 10’s of thousands of Ohio kids and teachers from their online classrooms.

The path ahead of us seems daunting at times but it's nothing new and nothing to fear. There's just too much at stake for too many. The only response is to work together to fight harder.

Our 2017 Resolution

2016 Favorite Photo - ECOT Field Trip Teamwork

2016 Favorite Photo - ECOT Field Trip Teamwork

With the arrival of 2017 comes a renewed focus on our core mission. With your help and support we aim to continue to grow our community and double our impact. We will amplify our voices louder and extend our reach even farther than we did in 2016 with a focus on local events, new media, new contributors, fostering more meanginful legislator connections as well creating easy ways to empower more of the community to actively participate and collaborate. 2017 is going to be a great year!

If you're looking for a New Year's resolution worth sticking to, please consider committing yourself to taking a more active role in supporting our school and school choice in Ohio. You can visit our Take Action page to discover several ways to get involved.

Thank You for a great 2016 and we'll see you next year!

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

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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