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
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
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.
Read ECOT PALS Stories
From College & Career Fairs to their CTE Program, I commend ECOT for putting so much effort into helping their students along on their journeys and not just pushing them towards destinations. View Post->
Pushing legislation, rules and actions that may effectively displace 10's of thousands of our state's children, teachers and education administrators should not be handled so carelessly. These efforts are such a large threat to our families, our state economy, our right to choose and all of Ohio's future. We're fired up too and rightfully so.View Post->
What the Senator has shown in his words and actions is that he is playing politics with public education. He seems squarely focused on intentional and blind protectionism of the traditional institutional system at any cost or consequence to opportunity for Ohio's students. View Post ->
ECOT far exceeded the average scores for schools of its size and background. The AdvancED accreditation will be awarded in June. View Post ->
ODE's 5-hour attendance rule is reckless and works to undermine over a decade of progress in K-12 online education for Ohio. It's been months and the department still has yet to justify this measure with any logical reasoning. View Post ->
Abigail had to look beyond the traditional public school system to find a way to stay close to her newborn, but had no idea how her experience at ECOT would change her perspective and impact her and her new baby's life - View Post ->
There is little doubt that ECOT is changing the paradigm of public education... and it's not by blindly giving students iPads or a way for students to simply click their way to a diploma. ECOT teachers are harnessing the efficiency that technology provides while leveraging the power of teamwork to meet the unique learning needs of their students. View Post ->
After teaching English at a brick-and-mortar high school for 18 years, Maryalice Leister has been fearlessly pursuing educational technology to create more meaningful connections with her students. View Post ->
In 2016, we exercised 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. View Post ->
When her mother became very ill, everything seemed to change for high school freshman, Sara. Up against odds that many couldn’t possibly imagine, she found acceptance, support and a new hope for her future at ECOT. View Post -->
The biggest challenge of mobility is that each student's scenario is entirely unique. For some, they need a right place right time solution to finish out their K-12 journey. For other student's, mobility challenges define their entire public school experience. View Post->
From isolation to recommended medication, the system was failing an energetic 2nd grader named Dax. Jane turned to ECOT to find a schooling solution that works for him. View Post -->
When the traditional public school system pushed her bullied daughter through the cracks, Amanda Lewis turned to ECOT to get her daughter the educational support she needs to succeed. View Post ->
The Columbus Dispatch recently showed that instead of practicing journalism with integrity, they're willing to pay to promote their anti-school, anti-teacher and anti-student agenda. View Post-->
The Board President resigned and said that this was all preventable and the money was basically blown to no advantage to the students. Unfortunately, Parma families and educators are left to deal with the consequences and it's tragic. View Post->
Constantly chasing new standards and screwing around with questionable measures while repeatedly attempting to march our diverse and fragile system towards different finish line grades is getting us nowhere. View Post ->
Looking at the crushing human and taxpayer consequences of bullying, those serious about public school innovation and the future of public education need to reconsider their anti-school-choice actions and start to measure what matters. View Post ->
"Over the past 16 years, ECOT has fulfilled its responsibilities to my family by providing my children with a high-quality curriculum, exceedingly dedicated teachers and a well rounded, solid education. Please respect my decision to choose the education I deem best suited for my family" View Post ->
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. View Post ->
In response to a recent fury of misinformation, outright lies and uninformed opinion being spread by those who wish to defund and destroy school choice in Ohio, ECOT (Electronic Classroom of Tomorrow) advocates have had enough and are starting to speak out. View Post->
With new capabilities in technology, new socioeconomic challenges and new science behind how people learn and grow... major changes to a K-12 format that is so long in the tooth should be expected and embraced. View Post ->
During her transition from traditional brick-and-mortar school to online school, Sydney left behind the constant bullying, name-calling, fighting and harassment and transformed from “the quiet kid who kept to herself” into a “social butterfly.” View Post ->
The media and special interests steal the stage from Ohio citizens in debates about public school choice. We all pay into the system as much as we all stand to pay the ultimate price for a system that fails these kids and we have a voice too. View Post ->
Desperate to find a public education option that worked for them, the Aquino family discovered school and family life balance with ECOT - View Post ->
Aside from being a massive waste of taxpayer time and resources, the school boards action amount to nothing more than a reckless, unfounded and somewhat childish protest. View Post ->
Transitioning from 11 years teaching at traditional schools to ECOT K-12 Online School, 3rd Grade Teacher, Lindsey Lindsay compares the student learning experience in physical and virtual classrooms. View Post ->
Art Teacher, Hannah Brown shares her experience as an online educator and how this breakthrough format is saving and shaping K-12 art classes of the future. View Post -->
From the diversity to the school life balance to the learning engagement, ECOT K-12 online school has been amazing for my daughter and helps me be more involved in her education as well as her life. View Post -->