One of the most vibrant voices in education is Diane Ravitch, past Secretary of Education, who has taught at NYU for many years. Her blog offers thoughtful analyses of school reform and her most recent posting on the implosion of ECOT charter school in Ohio is informative. It is interesting to track the money in school choice, as it seems to accrue to the private parties who found these schools. In this case, millions were siphoned off from the public system and deposited in a private company. The resulting story and the comments to this blog are at times disturbing and very enlightening.
Readers of this blog are familiar with the story of ECOT, the mammoth virtual charter school in Ohio. It made over $1 Billion for the entrepreneur who founded it. But it seems to be slipping rapidly down the drain hole.
Mother Jones tells the story here in graphic detail.
“Now, with ECOT imploding, some state politicians have floated the idea that Lager, who has made millions in profits off the school and come a long way from the Waffle House, should be personally held responsible for paying back some of the $80 million owed to the state. But while the coming days will reveal if the political will or mechanisms exist to make this happen, it’s unclear how he might ever be held accountable—because the real scandal is that ECOT grew up legally, with the support of state politicians and national GOP power brokers, and that in many ways it has served as a model for schools like it across the country. Now, the same districts ECOT pulled its funds from are scrambling to find a way to take in its former students, and Ohio is facing a reckoning, after nearly two decades when the state became one of the country’s freest laboratories for pro-charter policies. “Why did it take a generation and a half of kids to go through this crappy system for us to do something about it,” Stephen Dyer, a former Ohio state representative asked me in exasperation in December. “The reason is because a lot of money came in.”