Ohio E-Schools: Funding Failure; Coddling Contributors

For Immediate Release: May 12, 2011

Contact: Dale Butland, 614-783-5833

OHIO’S E-SCHOOLS: FUNDING FAILURE; CODDLING CONTRIBUTORS

Columbus – Innovation Ohio, a progressive think tank headquartered in Columbus, released a new study today which finds that Ohio’s Electronic schools (“E-schools”) are “a disaster.” E-schools are a subset of “charter” or “community” schools that have made headlines this week.

The report, “Funding Failure; Coddling Contributors,” analyzes E-school performance ratings and student graduation rates, their costs compared to traditional schools, and the tens of millions of dollars in taxpayer money E-school operators receive for running them. The report also highlights the extensive political contributions the state’s two most prominent E-school operators have made to Ohio legislators and state-wide office-holders.

Among the report’s most shocking findings are:

  • Of Ohio’s 7 state-wide E-schools (which account for 90% of all E-school enrollment), six are not even rated “effective” by the Ohio Department of Education.
  • 5 of the 7 have graduation rates worse than Cleveland Municipal Schools, which has the lowest graduation rate of all traditional school districts.
  • Far from “saving’ money, E-Schools actually cost the state twice as much per pupil as traditional public schools.
  • Currently, E-schools are required to spend a minimum amount on per pupil instruction, or face a fine. In their respective budget proposals, both Gov. Kasich and House Republicans removed that provision. This would short-change students, and allow E-school operators to pocket even more taxpayer money.
  • Ohio pays David Brennan nearly $12 million per year for operating the OHDELA E-school, which graduates just 36% of its students. Another operator, William Lager, rakes in $64 million per year for operating ECOT, the state’s largest E-school, which has a graduation rate of 35%.
  • Together, Misters Brennan and Lager have made nearly $4 million in political donations since 2001, mostly to Republican candidates and party accounts.
  • Though Gov. Kasich and General Assembly leaders say they believe in “accountability,” the legislature has still not adopted the E-school standards developed by the state Board of Education in 2003, while ever more taxpayer money is pumped into the failed schools operated by their financial contributors.

Said IO Communications Director Dale Butland:

“Ohio’s E-Schools are an outrageous taxpayer rip-off, a cruel hoax for many students and parents, and a textbook example of the “pay to play” culture that too often permeates state government.

“At a time when Ohio’s traditional schools are seeing unprecedented state cuts, most Ohioans have no idea how shockingly bad Ohio’s E-Schools are and how much state money is being funneled to the for-profit operators who run them.

“Gov. Kasich and his legislative allies loudly demand reform and accountability in traditional schools. But when it comes to E-Schools run by their biggest financial donors, they suddenly develop laryngitis. Their silence speaks volumes.”

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