COLUMBUS -- Former U.S. Congressman and candidate for Ohio Auditor of State Zack Space released the following statement Friday morning following news that the Electronic Classroom of Tomorrow had lost its sponsor and would immediately close:
“Yesterday’s news of the Electronic Classroom of Tomorrow’s closing is the precise reason so many Ohioans have lost faith in their government and feel isolated from their democracy. Self-interested politicians, focused exclusively on their campaign war chests, happily looked the other way for 17 years while this for-profit school enriched its founder, produced dismal graduation rates of under 40%, and made off with over $1 billion of taxpayer money since 2001.
But the real victims of the ECOT scam have always been the school’s students, tens of thousands of whom must now find a new school in the middle of the year. No child or their family deserves to be left in the cold like this. The politicians in the General Assembly who created this mess must now clean it up, and those who took campaign contributions from ECOT leaders should immediately return the money to public schools, where it belongs.
This charade demonstrates the extent to which any honest oversight of Ohio’s government has been corrupted by campaign donations and political self-interest. Unsurprisingly, the same politicians who most directly aided and abetted this egregious abuse of taxpayer funds will now attempt to avoid responsibility and accountability. For instance, Auditor of State Dave Yost -- who eagerly accepted nearly $30,000 from Bill Lager, thrice recognized ECOT for bookkeeping excellence, and whose picture literally hung in ECOT’s offices -- is now seeking a promotion. Ohioans deserve a strong, independent Auditor who acts as a watchdog over their tax dollars -- not one who bends over backward to satisfy big donors and wealthy special interests.
This is truly a tragic day for Ohioans who believe in public education, honest government, and a political process that values integrity, as well as for ECOT students whose learning environments have been disrupted. This situation is a woeful reminder of just how broken Ohio’s political system is, and why the time has come for political greed to be exposed and rooted out in our state government.”