#OhioGradCrisis, Charters, Data, ECOT, Education, Ohio, Public Schools, Schools

ECOT now ECOY…. Oh, Despicable Him

ecot blog

ECOT now ECOY…. Oh, Despicable Him
by: Kelly Ann Braun

*please note: words in bold type are links!*

The Electronic Classroom of Tomorrow will now be the Experimental Catastrophe of Yesterday.

The largest school in Ohio, the biggest charter scam in Ohio, has (at long last) lost their sponsor. They are closing their doors.

So, after actively fighting calculated greed and conniving thievery behind the nearly two decades of direct and indirect destructive effects of William Lager’s education entrepreneurial enterprise, one would think we (public education activists) would all be hooting, hollering and relishing the victory.

But that is NOT the case. Quite the opposite, I am personally, as are scores of others, scathingly infuriated with William Lager and ALL those who took those millions of dirty dollars all those years. He preyed upon dear families’ desperation. He exploited the needs of children. He downed his oversized ego dominos right into 1000s of brick and mortar classrooms. And now sickeningly, all who were robbed in the first place to pave the way to his riches will pay once again for his inevitable failed outcome.

12,000 displaced, dislocated, and disjointed students will now see their school year chopped cruelly in half. Above that number, how many (1000s upon 1000s) of frustrated parents will now scramble to obtain the papers necessary to transfer transcripts and medical information etc., to the next place in their child’s forced move? Additionally nearly 1000 staff and faculty are now also stuck in the full-fledged muckery mudslide and out-of-work midyear! What an utter, ugly, unacceptable mess.

I fear terribly, that huge numbers from this whole fiasco will just not graduate this year or complete the year. I honestly, in a totally guessing manner, believe that 1/3 will make their way to some other “non-profit-but-ridiculously-high-administrative-pay-via-tax-dollars” online schools, who, like ECOT, struggle to validate participation and attendance. 1/3 will make their way back into the overcrowded classrooms where the wrongly diverted monies to charters have caused teacher shortages. In the very same public schools where necessary specialty services of counselors, therapists, and nurses have been sacrificed, while the means to resource such through public tax dollars, paid for a private billion-dollar estate in Florida. And the final 1/3 will “lose” this entire year and need to repeat next year. I pray I am way off on my numbers. I want to be extremely wrong about this.

I find it depressing and unbelievable that it took 17 years before any fair and just legal motions could come against such crookery.  The millions that Lager threw back at ‘certain’ politicians for their campaigns was never a secret. I am disturbed that the fight for proper stewardship of Ohio’s education-denoted funds, took this long in order to get past the guarded back-door swindle deals.

I am so thankful for Senator Joe Schiavoni staying the course. He has spent years putting forth bills and legislation which were continually, intentionally misdirected to this or that committee to die. He never stopped though.  I witnessed first-hand, the hardball games that the GOP played to keep this corrupt circle of cash flowing. The intimidation tactics, the snide under-handed tricks, the boldface lies, the white-collar-crimes ignored, and the gang-like loyalty to those in the inner circles, were constant under Kasich’s administration. But, none of that caused Joe to yield or back down. He knew what was good and right for his constituents’ children. He knew what was good and right for Ohio. The harder the ones with lined-pockets came at him or against the truths, the more calmly focused and inexhaustibly determined he became to represent the true primary stakeholders. And yet, I know Joe is not whooping it up and celebrating this either. He is, I am positive, absolutely concerned for the all of the children, and families whose lives were just abruptly sent into chaos and uncertainty. He released this timeline and official statement just hours ago (I already had this blog 90% written).

I have humbly only been an education activist for coming up on five years now, and I have had to fight like crazy against quitting entirely or becoming concrete in cynicism. I know how grueling it is to put forth so much time and energy year after year after year, to only ever see the same disparaging rigged results. This is why my gratitude for anyone’s long-standing part in the fight for public education is so genuine.

While I am giving a very personal heart-felt and mind-solaced shout out to Senator Schiavoni for championing this cause all the way through to the bitter end, I would like to furthermore recognize others who have also remained steadfast in speaking against rampant charter scams in Ohio.

To all the sincere politicians who did not cave into to sizeable Lager donations, thank you more than I’ll be able to ever express.

To all my dear activist friends and other warriors who I have not met, who have advocated and fought hard for children for decades, I admire your dedicated endurance.

To all writers, I would like to express my gratefulness for those, who for so many (too many) years, researched, interviewed, compiled, wrote, and published articles with damning evidence against ECOT. I wonder how many of you 10 years ago, or 4 years ago, or 6 months ago, thought that surely when folks read your latest set of condemning facts that people in a pitchfork-manner would finally shut ECOT down. And yet, it did not happen for so very long that combined all of you have hundreds upon hundreds of ECOT or Lager-related articles in your files. To write with no change ever occurring over such a long course of time, takes a stamina that most do not hold. I hope that you will recognize that ALL of your archived articles paint a chronological record which will serve now as proof-positive that the privatization of public schools for profit (whether they hide under the misnomer of “non-profit” or not), does not work!

This is a very incomplete list, in no certain order whatsoever, of the writers who again and again covered the topic of DESPICABLE HIM (William Lager):

Greg Mild with the Plunderbund is a teacher currently. He is a digger of truths and facts; an artiste at using the Public Information Act. He wrote extensively about ECOT and William Lager for years and the topic is searchable on his site. Thank you Greg, you not only pieced chunks together, but you often wrote with straightforward underlying emote that matched my own. Here is one article from 2014, but numerous others can be searched and read.

Kevin Griffin is also a public education teacher, who like Greg, writes without being paid to do so. He denoted an incredible amount of hours, for quite some years also, and specifically targeted ECOT on his ECOT EXPOSED site. His page was an invaluable resource for those of us fighting to say “Stop…. stealing from our students!” Thank you Kevin for your persevering part in letting the public in on Ohio’s ‘chartergate’ secrets!

Jan Resseger is a sweetheart whose heart truly is for all children. I had a perchance meeting and car ride with her one time after a rallying march in DC, where I got separated from my friends, caught in the rain, and had no wallet. Her diligence in exposing ECOT and others is rooted in pure love for the true profession of education. Thank you Jan, for relentlessly calling evil and greed, exactly that. Her organized site, as I was looking up articles to cite in my piece, was where I was so struck with how very extensively this whole ugly topic has been covered for years without the ability to stop anything, until now.

Steve Dyer is a phenomenal number cruncher. I cannot count the times I and others launched our emails, research, actions and testimonies etc. from charts and statistics that Steve would provide. Thank you Steve, for countering the dizziness of trying to follow the contorted money paths by organizing and providing thoroughly logical sets of information on your 10th Period Blog!

Progress Ohio has put together an ongoing Charter School Scandal Chronology. ECOT is (was) the biggest, and one of the worst, but certainly a far cry from being the only charter scam being run in Ohio. Others too, are flooding monies to their ‘businesses’ disguised to look like public schools, taking full advantage of the non-profit status, and pumping that money straight to the top, and out the door so that a very few people are raking in the millions upon millions, while the children are the ones being completely shortchanged.

Doug Livingston, of the Akron Beacon Journal, was the first one who I personally found was on-target in speaking out about White Hat’s David Brennan and ECOT’s William Lager. Thank you very much Doug, for covering so much of it all for so long!

Patrick O’Donnell with the Cleveland Plain Dealer also has attended meetings and hearings, in order to report on ECOT so many, many times. Thank you Patrick for your writing and for tagging Ohio BATs on exactly what you know will involve and concern us!
The Public Education Partners (many who are also in Ohio BATs) ran an incredible action and managed to get different school districts to bill the ODE, using official resolutions, for the money lost to ECOT. The numbers were staggering when shown in that direct manner. Here is the writing start of that action. Here is a list of the 79 school districts that sent in resolutions via this awareness action.

Finally, I was truly grateful and at the same time completely irked at how very many times Diane Ravitch wrote about ECOT in her blog.  Diane is a Research Professor of Education at New York University and a historian of education. She is the Founder and President of the Network for Public Education (NPE). She is my inspiration and a treasured friend of education everywhere. Actually, when I spoke with her in person, she and I immediately had a ton to talk about. As soon as I mentioned I was from Ohio, she impressed me at how she was right on top of all of the current charter and other education scams being run in Ohio. She does not mince words; that is for positive. I am always grateful anytime she speaks of Ohio, for she has a very vast following. One also could search her blog site to find a slew of articles related to ECOT and William Lager. Unfortunately, ECOT is not just notorious in Ohio. It is sadly a nationally-known embarrassment.

In closing I would like to reiterate that this list is just a FEW of the ones who demanded transparency and accountability where taxes were abused and a full generation of children were involved.

In the last couple of days, as it looked more and more apparent that ECOT had run out of all finagling options, I heard an interview and read an article that remarked something to the effect that ECOT’s money troubles began last year.

No, No, absolutely not—- the money troubles did NOT begin last year.

The money troubles began when William Lager was scribbling out plans on napkins to remedy his personal bankrupt situation nearly 20 years ago, as this Columbus Dispatch article clearly lays out. The only way to entirely understand the end of this terrible scenario is by being absolutely certain on how the whole entire thing started in the first place. The main reparation that can come now, moving forward, is to not allow children to ever be figured into someone’s financial loss woes or financial gain schemes. Children are too precious to be belittled as mere business numbers and toxic desire for profit.

“Receive the children in reverence, educate them in love, and send them forth in freedom.” ~ Rudolf Steiner

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#OhioGradCrisis, Education, Ohio, Public Schools, School Board, Schools, seniors

Head’s Up! Action Alert! #OhioGradCrisis

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Apples have been set on the students’ heads, and the ‘archers’ are yelling “Be still—our accuracy is arbitrarily set!”  What could possibly go wrong?

Ohio BATs recently chose very intentionally to laser–focus lobbying efforts towards securing a safe harbor for the graduating class of 2018. Our efforts set two Senators into motion to write language into the budget bill demanding a one-time-exception for those with a specific set of high stakes being attached to the receiving of high school diplomas, since the PARCC testing was a one-year-failed-experiment.  Our demands were quickly voted out. A set of extra criteria, developed for those striving to ‘walk with their class’ were inserted instead.  Amazingly, those extra graduation requirements remained in the budget bill. They somehow missed the sword swipes of Governor Kasich’s veto powers.

Ohio BATs will NOT be celebrating the fact that they remained. We are tired of crying out for the freshest of bread loaves for the children and receiving some kind of paltry moldy crumb sprinklings. There is this wrong notion circulating that you can only ask for what you think you might possibly be given, and even then you should be prepared to be haggled down to even a lesser amount.  The power remains with those abusing the power. The oppressed keep their heads bowed and eyes on the ground, acquiescing by profusely thanking those in charge for the tiny appeasements. Those “reforming education” and being motivated by dark monies are artists at keeping with their profit-seeking agendas, and then appearing or acting as though they care for the peasantry by occasionally letting the people think they are getting what they want. This groveling game is growing tiresome and is unbecoming of the what these primary stakeholders more than deserve.

WE, Ohio BATs and others, are not done yet! WE are going to demand a study be done on how this list of extra things the hopeful and stressed out seniors can try and do, will actually impact the kids that still don’t have the points! The study will include data from the spring tests too, (like they did last time). Head’s up! Stop settling!

Time is NOT on our side. The next State Board meeting is Tuesday, July 11th. Please email each of the Board members and voice your concerns that the graduation requirement list for 2018 does not go far enough to help ALL of those families who will now not know until nearly the last few weeks of school, if their students will graduate or not. This is not a game. This is not time for politicking or partisanship. These children were wronged and the wrong needs righted.

Matt Jablonski’s email: http://testingwindow.blogspot.com/2017/07/graduation-problem-it-ain-over-it-over.html

BOARD MEMBERS:

Linda Haycock                    Linda.Haycock@education.ohio.gov                  (419) 979-6438

Kathleen A. McGervey  Kathleen.McGervey@education.ohio.gov               (440) 669-0780

Charlotte McGuire          Charlotte.McGuire@education.ohio.gov                 no ph. #

Pat Bruns                             Pat.Bruns@education.ohio.gov                               (513) 310-8953

Lisa Woods                        Lisa.Woods@education.ohio.gov                             (330) 410-6733

Antoinette Miranda        Antoinette.Miranda@education.ohio.gov                (614) 565-7926

Sarah Fowler                     Sarah.Fowler@education.ohio.gov                          (440) 563-8535

Nancy P. Hollister (VP)   Nancy.Hollister@education.ohio.gov                         (740) 373-6523

Stephanie Dodd                Stephanie.Dodd@education.ohio.gov                       (740) 629-1333

Nick Owens                       Nick.Owens@education.ohio.gov                              (513) 706-2634

Meryl Johnson                 Meryl.Johnson@education.ohio.gov                         (216) 561-1396

AT-LARGE MEMBERS: 

Tess Elshoff (Pres)           ElshoffTess@education.ohio.gov                               (419) 753-2583

Cathye Flory                       Cathye.Flory@education.ohio.gov                            (740) 603-6365

Joseph L. Farmer              Joe.Farmer@education.ohio.gov                                (740) 862- 8649

Rebecca Vazquez-Skillings   Rebecca.Vazquez-Skillings@education.ohio.gov

Rebecca Vazquez-Skillings   (614) 256- 9317

Martha Manchester       Martha.Manchester@education.ohio.gov                (419) 303-2672

Eric Poklar                           Eric.Poklar@education.ohio.gov                              (614) 519-5526

Kara Morgan                      Kara.Morgan@education.ohio.gov                           (202) 297-4555

Laura Kohler                       Laura.Kohler@education.ohio.gov                          (614) 425-0183

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#OhioGradCrisis, Education, Ohio

Why I Cannot Support More Graduation “Pathways”

We met with a handful of Ohio Senators last week. Since it matters for this discussion’s sake, 6 of the 8 we talked with are Republicans. Not one of them disagreed that we need a solution for our Class of 2018. Not one of them defended the nightmare they have created for our now seniors. But, when it came down to it, they did not support the logical and humane solution for our kids with their votes.

We’ve discussed ad-nauseum the impending graduation crisis for Ohio’s now seniors. In Wednesday’s vote, state senators had an opportunity to provide relief to our students through “safe harbor.” The amendment offered would allow students in the Class of 2018 to use course grades for the seven content areas in lieu of standardized state tests to earn points toward the required minimum of 18. This amendment was tabled on a party line vote of 24-9.

Instead, the amendment which remains in the Senate’s version of the budget bill would require students to jump through even more hoops to meet graduation requirements. After changing tests in three of the last four years and changing the cut scores for passage with a new vendor, after 12 years of learning and hard work in their classes, after taking seven end of course state tests (and retakes for any with scores of 2 or 1, plus their required remediation), these seniors could now be faced with two additional hoops to jump through in order to earn their diploma.

While I am glad these new, unnecessary hoops remove the burden of scoring 18 points through the seven standardized tests, I am irate that students will still be required to retake any state tests for which they scored a 2 or 1. Though they need not earn a passing score, they must serve the testing gods. This is the definition of state-sanctioned educational malpractice.

Some claim the new pathways somehow “soften” the state’s graduation requirements. To them, I’d offer the following, albeit imperfect, analogy:

If each of the four years of high school are the leg of a relay and the team is your diploma, here’s a look into that race. In the first leg, your time is measured by PARCC, so results take over a year to determine and be reported to you. Meanwhile, you’re trucking along in the second leg, and it is announced that your time will be measured by AIR. You also have to stop intermittently along this stretch because you need to go back and recomplete the first leg of the race, this time measured by AIR. As you enter the third leg, you learn you have to go back to leg 2 for a new AIR measurement with a higher cut score while also needing to make up time you’ve lost in the overall race. Somewhere along the third leg, you learn that you still haven’t met the required AIR time from the first leg and must go back again to the start. Now it’s time for the final leg. Hopefully, you’ve made it back to this point by now to continue on your race. You are almost there! Wait, what’s that? This leg contains a maze of obstacles, from which you must choose two to complete successfully. Each obstacle will take most, if not all of your final leg to complete. Oh, and all those restarts, they don’t matter now, but you still have to go back to leg 2, though that time won’t count in the end. See, wasn’t that so easy?

I wish I could think of an analogy that actually fits this scenario our kids are in, but I cannot. Because it is utterly ridiculous. Instead of admitting their mistakes in the regulations of the relay, the majority party seems to want to continue this charade. Meanwhile, our students pay the ultimate price when the race is stacked against them.

#FixItOrOwnIt #OhioGradCrisis

Brittany Alexander

Ohio BAT and Educator

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#OhioGradCrisis, Education, Ohio, Public Schools, School Board, Schools

Safe Harbor for 2018

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Chairman Hite, Vice Chair Sykes, and members of the Senate Finance – Primary and Secondary Education Subcommittee,

Thank you for the opportunity to submit testimony today. My name is Brittany Alexander and I am a public school educator of (almost) 20 years. I am an education activist, serving in leadership roles in both National and Ohio BATs (Badass Teachers Association). I strongly urge that the subcommittee include language offering a “safe harbor” from standardized testing requirements to specific students in the Class of 2018 to Substitute HB 49.

To my knowledge, there is not state-level data on where students land in relation to earning a minimum of 18 points in the End of Course (EOC) exam pathway, explaining the variance in reports of the number of students whose graduation will be negatively affected. The recommendations sent forth from the State of Ohio Board of Education are commendable in that they reduce the role of standardized testing in graduation requirements. However, even with these recommendations in place, there will still be some number of students who land between being able to meet 2 out of the 6 recommendations and earning 18 points on EOC exams. Those students who are between these two options, and have met all other graduation requirements, will still be in the same situation they are in now: an untenable one.

The Class of 2018 is not only the first to be held to the pathway graduation requirements, but they are also the only people in Ohio to be accountable (i.e. without “safe harbor”) for PARCC assessments they took during their freshman year. In an effort to “make up” points needed for graduation, students with a score of 1 or 2 on any PARCC assessment have to retake their EOC exams with American Institutes of Research (AIR) assessments. Educators know that these retakes have a high cost of lost instructional time.

The “safe harbor” for which I am advocating is a short-term solution intended to help specific students in the Class of 2018. However, it is important to note that Ohio is one of only 14 states that currently require exit exams for high school graduation. In the long-term, I advocate that we rid Ohio’s students of EOC exams tied to graduation requirements. To foster and develop the skills students need beyond their K-12 years, we have to switch our focus away from high-stakes standardized tests.

I ask you to consider my testimony and provide “safe harbor” from EOC tests to students who will land in between the recommendations from the State Board and the requirements of the EOC exam pathway. Their very future is in your hands. Thank you again for your time and consideration.

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