Ohio’s Virtual Charter “Plunderbund” Plus “District Disruption and Revival”

Education Week just published its annual report on schooling across the country. In addition to contributions from journalists Education Week relied on its own survey of school systems.

One highlight of this year’s report is a focus on major reorganizations of public schools and competition for students and funds. The impact of charter school operations may be unsurprising to many regular listeners, but it’s still worth noting this summary from Education Week:

In 2010-11, the nation’s 5,500 public charter schools educated 1.7 million students. During the past decade, the number of charter schools has tripled and the number of students served has more than quadrupled.

In addition to students enrolled in charter schools, many millions more are affected by the existence of charter operations in their areas, through competition for students and funds. Overall, achievement in charters parallels or falls behind that of traditional public schools

See “District Disruption and Revival,” or download full report and state-by-state reviews.

Listen to the report and more on this week’s edition of The Education Town Hall — January 16, 2014

Ohio Approves Yet More Millions for Undocumented Virtual Schooling

In related news, independent journalists following ECOT, the Electronic Classroom of Tomorrow, a virtual charter operator in Ohio have recently highlighted news from state audits and proposals for funding. State audits have asked, year after year, for specifics about use of public funds going to ECOT schools, noting that no invoices document millions in expenditures each year. Each of the companies prospering is one in which ECOT founder, Wm Lager, has a major interest. With recent approval for new funding to ECOT, Lager’s companies alone will be receiving $18.5 million next year. (“Plunderbund,” BTW, means “political corruption.” Visit http://Plunderbund.com for more on this and related stories.)

Diane Ravitch’s education blog noted earlier this week that traditional news forums appear to be ignoring this story (see “Outrage in Ohio“). ToledoNewsNow did report on some problems with ECOT back in 2001, but I see no recent stories in Ohio outlets highlighting Lager’s latest windfall. Meanwhile, Politico reported in September 2013 that ECOT was receiving $88.4 million in public funds while failing its students, according to all traditional measures. Mother Jones conducted a major investigation into cyber school funding a few years ago, highlighting ECOT schools’ low achievement rates and high per pupil spending.

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