How the Demise Of an Online Charter School Is Roiling Ohio Politics

In Education, States, Voting On

 

For nearly two decades, an online charter school with a bold name — the Electronic Classroom of Tomorrow — grew in Ohio, helped along by the state’s Republicans, who embraced the idea of “school choice” for families.

Conceived on the back of a Waffle House napkin, the school grew to become one of the largest in the state. Republicans cheered on ECOT, as the school was known, and ECOT officials contributed more than $2 million to GOP campaign accounts.

That was before it all crumbled. It was before state regulators figured out the school was being paid to educate thousands of students who never logged in. Before the state ordered the school to repay $80 million. Before the school abruptly closed in January, leaving 12,000 students stranded.

Now, Democrats, who have been locked out of power in Columbus for eight years, are hoping the complex tale of a charter school’s collapse holds their ticket back.

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