The Ohio Department of Education under John Kasich has not been known for vigilance when it comes to the virtual charter school industry. However, increased media attention to Ohio’s pockmarked charter sector has caused the state to look into its underperforming and highly profitable virtual charters.


What they discovered was ugly. Inflated enrollments. Lack of evidence that students participate in instruction for the required 5 hours a day. An industry that profits while students fail.


The investigation focused on the Electronic Classroom of Tomorrow (ECOT), owned by one of the state’s major contributors to Republican campaigns. William Lager has received nearly $1 billion in public funds since 2002. The money to pay for a failing online school was taken from Ohio’s public schools.


The New York Times wrote about ECOT a few days ago and pointed out that the online school has the largest proportion of students who fail to graduate of any high school in the nation. Only 20% finish on time.


Actually, it is worse than it appears. Stephen Dyer noted that ECOT accounts for 5% of the graduates in the state, but it accounts for more of the students who fail to graduate from high school than all the state’s districts combined!


This is a failing school! It should be closed.


The state may revise a regulation or two. Don’t expect anything dramatic, like shutting down the state’s lowest performing school, or basing pay on performance. That’s for public schools, not Ponzi schemes that contribute to Kasich and friends.