ECOT Commercials Slam Education Department, Draw Criticism
by Andy Chow
The embattled online charter school, ECOT, is flooding the airwaves with commercials to rally support and hit back against the state education department.
The commercials from ECOT paint a picture of how the e-school can help kids.
Commercial 1: “I’ve been in and out of foster care.”
Commercial 2: “It was getting to the point where I was sleeping in bus stations and park benches.”
Commercial 3: “After years of bullying and changing schools I could finally learn at my own pace.”
The Ohio Department of Education is trying to conduct an audit to find out how much instruction ECOT students receive. In the commercials, ECOT describes this as an attempt to shut the school down. Republican Sen. Peggy Lehner of Kettering, chair of the Senate Education Committee, disputes that claim.
“I think what ODE is trying to do is assure that the Ohio taxpayers are getting value for their money that they’re spending at ECOT and other schools, all the schools, the rules aren’t different for ECOT than any other school in the state of Ohio,” said Lehner.
Chad Aldis is with the Fordham Institute which operates charter schools in the state and advocates for school choice. He says charter schools should have the right to advertise and tell the public what it can do that traditional public schools can’t. But he does disagree with some aspects of ECOT’s new commercials.
“I would like to not have commercials that send political messages or try to get people to call the department of education and things like that but at the end of the day people have to do what they think they need to,” Aldis said.
An ECOT consultant says the school has spent $280,000 to run these ads.