Published on August 15th, 2018 | by Guest Contributor1
Eddy The Eagle Speaks Out: Why I Flew From ECOT’s Coop
By Eddy The ECOT Eagle
If you haven’t followed the story about the closure of the Electronic Classroom of Tomorrow (ECOT), you should, because it’s the largest taxpayer-funded scandal in Ohio history.
You may wonder why a 6-foot bald eagle mascot would write a blog post to attack the very school he used to represent. I’ll get to that in a bit, but I first want to give you some facts.
Founded by Bill Lager in 2000, ECOT was an online charter school which began to attract students away from brick and mortar traditional public schools across the state. Prior to its collapse, ECOT was the largest online charter school in the country and due to the way Ohio funds its charter schools, the e-school siphoned away nearly $600 million from public school systems across Ohio. We only have data on ECOT from the last six years, so the losses are likely much greater.
A few years back, whistleblowers raised alarms that things weren’t going so well at ECOT. The whistleblowers alleged that attendance wasn’t up to snuff and that ECOT requested money to cover students who simply did not attend class.
Since then, there have been major developments surrounding ECOT — and it has become a big issue in statewide races in Ohio, including DeWine’s gubernatorial bid.
🦅 @EddyEagleECOT’s busy these days!
He’s flown all over Ohio talking about the $200 million #ECOT defrauded from public school districts.
— Swing State Voices (@SwingStateVoice) August 14, 2018
Despite obvious warning signs, Attorney General Mike DeWine, State Auditor Dave Yost, and plenty of other Ohio Republicans looked the other way and enabled ECOT to rip off taxpayers and kids. Yost actually presented ECOT with awards for bookkeeping three years in a row, even while his office was “investigating” ECOT for fraudulent books.
You may ask yourself why so many Republican lawmakers looked the other way on such obvious warning signs, but the answer is right in front of you.
It turns out Bill Lager and others associated with ECOT were among the largest donors to the Ohio GOP over the last decade.
Republican lawmakers and statewide elected officials simply looked the other way on ECOT to keep their campaign contributions flowing.
After the school closed earlier this year because the Department of Education asked ECOT for $80 million back, the school was forced to auction off everything to start making amends. The auction included everything from apple paperweights from Tiffany and Co., the school’s headquarters, cars, TVs, and their bald eagle mascot (me).
While I sold for under $200, I’m certain I’m actually priceless. The Cleveland Plain Dealer has already caught up with me to chat about how I have switched sides and I’m now following Ohio Republicans around the state, highlighting the scandal. I’ve been all over the press here in Ohio and I’m pretty confident that my Twitter account is savage AF.
However, as with any good mascot, my identity is secret.
“Bald Eagles are known for their incredible vision, and I don’t plan to let the Ohio GOP out of my sight.”
I’ve flown across the state telling local communities about their losses to ECOT. For example, Columbus City Schools lost $62,897,188 in funding to ECOT over the last six years. Cleveland City Schools lost $39,405,981. The numbers are staggering. Even districts like Chillicothe City lost over $2 million.
All in all, over the last six years, ECOT siphoned away $591 million from public schools across Ohio.
Kids in these communities had to suffer through losses to their educational experience while the Ohio GOP propped up their donor and turned a blind eye while Lager stole $189 million from taxpayers. Yep, that’s right…the amount of money that ECOT straight up stole from Ohioans is $189 million — and again that’s just over the last six years. ECOT was founded in 2000.
$189 million is the amount taxpayers paid to cover students ECOT said were supposedly attending classes but weren’t.
If you aren’t angry, you’d better check your pulse to see if you’re still alive.
Did you know @MikeDeWine still has $36,000 in campaign contributions from #ECOT? This was money stolen from your local schools and Mike looked the other way to let his donor rip us all off over $189 million. #OHGOV #chartergate pic.twitter.com/p6LlnUPKqz
— Eddy The Eagle (@EddyEagleECOT) August 15, 2018
After this whole scheme blew up, almost every Republican across Ohio donated their ECOT campaign contributions to charitable causes and “high-performing” charter schools. All but one. Can you guess who that was? Mike DeWine, the Republican candidate for governor, still has over $36,000 in ECOT contributions in his campaign war chest. Bill Lager donated your tax dollars which are now supporting Mike DeWine’s campaign, even after as Attorney General, he looked the other way on the theft of $591 million from our kids in schools across Ohio. How shameful!
This is why I’m fired up to travel Ohio and call out the corrupt politicians who helped ECOT steal from our kids. These bad actors hope you’ll forget they helped ECOT. They hope they can sweep it under the rug. Folks like Mike DeWine, Dave Yost, and Keith Faber need to be held accountable for what they did to our kids. Ohio can’t afford these corrupt politicians. And it’s clear they can’t be trusted to protect students across Ohio.
Bald Eagles are known for their incredible vision, and I don’t plan to let the Ohio GOP out of my sight.
Keep up with Eddy’s antics on Twitter. You can find him at @EddyEagleECOT.