Wednesday, July 20, 2016

Political Power of the Online Charter Czars: Can It Be Broken? | janresseger

Political Power of the Online Charter Czars: Can It Be Broken? | janresseger:

Political Power of the Online Charter Czars: Can It Be Broken?

Ohio’s Steve Dyer reports in his personal blog that defenders of Ohio’s Electronic Classroom of Tomorrow, the notorious ECOT online charter school, have even been lobbying delegates to the Republican National Convention here in Cleveland against Ohio’s crack-down on e-schools which seem to have been collecting millions of dollars every year from the state for phantom students.  Dyer writes: “And now, the Ohio Coalition for Quality Education—the state’s ironically named and most egregious defender of poor-performing charter schools… slipped a letter under the doors of delegates to the Republican National Convention….”  The letter “blames sneaky Democratic bureaucrats at ODE (Ohio Department of Education) for ECOT’s problems….”  In fact, as Dyer explains, passage of a bill modestly to increase regulation of Ohio’s charter sector was passed with bipartisan support.  But now, as Ohio’s largest and most profitable charter stands to lose millions of dollars because it has been inflating the per-pupil attendance on which state funding is based, powerful backers are appealing to anyone they can to try to keep their school operating and keep the tax dollars flowing into their profits.
Patrick O’Donnell reports for The Plain Dealer that ECOT continues to try to beat state oversight.  ECOT was denied a court injunction to block an inspection by state regulators, who then went to the school to begin the scheduled attendance audit only to be denied access to the school’s records: “When Judge Stephen McIntosh rejected ECOT’s argument… investigators went to the school, as they had scheduled weeks earlier, to see records of when students were logged in to the school’s system to take lessons. ECOT, the state says, would not make those records available. ‘ECOT is refusing to provide ODE personnel with access to the log-in/log-out data for the students that ODE identified in connection with the year-end review,’ Douglas Cole, a lawyer hired by ODE, said in a letter to ECOT on Tuesday.  The audit has been postponed for two weeks to give ECOT another chance to provide records.”
O’Donnell quotes Neil Clark, the powerful Columbus lobbyist who represents ECOT, and who says ECOT will go back to court: “Our attorneys are in the room and they’ve made it very clear that any information that the Department of Education asks outside of our contract that they will need to file other paperwork with the court and make a request to the court that we submit the other data.”  (This blog has covered ECOT’s efforts to block state regulation here.)
Ohio is not the only state attempting to regulate online charter schools.  Howard Blume reports for the Los Angeles Times that, “The (California) state attorney general’s office has Political Power of the Online Charter Czars: Can It Be Broken? | janresseger:
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