The commercial ends with the “ECOT Senior” reading the final line of the script, “If ODE closes ECOT, where will I go?”

The good news is that it won’t be a problem, since she would not have been enrolled in ECOT next year regardless of what happens to the mega e-school.

As it turns out, Summer was simply playing a role in the commercial and, thanks to her independent efforts, she will be going to college next year.

We reached out to Summer when pictures surfaced of her at this year’s ECOT graduation ceremony in her cap & gown, along with posts about her graduation party that occurred on June 17, a month and a half prior to the commercial being released (July 29).

When we asked Summer about the content of the commercial, she did not address the disconnect between the script and her real life, and simply told us that she was finishing her necessary coursework in summer school, receiving her diploma in August, and will be enrolling in college.

Congratulations again, Summer, on working independently and taking advantage of the learning opportunities offered to you by ECOT, to obtain your diploma.

ECOT must have figured the formula was a good one, so they took another crack at it.

Gabriel Young, the actor in the latest commercial released on August 9, is an impressive young man.  The story he tells of bouncing around foster homes is true, and he has risen to become the current president of the Ohio Youth Advisory Board, a statewide organization of young people (aged 14-24) who have experienced foster care.

But, as with Summer, Gabriel was ultimately just following the script.  Excerpts from a December 26 article in the Youngstown Vindicator covering Gabriel’s remarkable story:

Young, 18, of Austintown, has lived in 21 foster homes, and, for six years, ending at age 13 in an adoptive home, from which child welfare officials removed him and returned him to foster care.

Young, who is studying culinary arts at the Mahoning County Career and Technical Center in Canfield and has a 2.9 grade-point average, works part time as a cashier at a Youngstown-area McDonald’s.

Young has accepted an offer of admission to Sullivan University in Louisville, Ky., where he intends to earn a bachelor’s degree in event and tourism promotion. [emphasis-added] (Youngstown Vindicator, 12/26/2015)

It is despicable that ECOT is continuing to put these young adults on television to spread a false message about the actions taking place by the Ohio Department of Education, which is simply trying to ensure that you are operating in the best interest of all students and truly providing a structured educational system that is more than “home schooling resources” that parents may use to teach their children.

It becomes even worse when we find out the true stories about the students being used by ECOT in two of these commercials is quite different than the one ECOT’s hired scriptwriters have crafted, and it continues to undermine anything the charter school is claiming to be the truth.

Shame on you, ECOT, and shame on Third Wave Communications, ECOT owner Bill Lager’s daughter’s (Jessica Lager Harris) media company and producer of these commercials, for continuing to spread the lies all in order to keep the money flowing to you.


More on that connection soon…



  • ecotPALS

    This post’s a head scratcher, Greg. It’s certainly understandable that when ads and stories emerge about student’s experiences at a school that you’ve made it your life’s work attacking, you’d be likely to lash out. The truth can be hard to deal with sometimes. We’ve read your latest attack effort here several times and maybe we’re missing something. While the headline is certainly attention grabbing, you never really explained what is so “appalling.” Is it appalling that the institutional ed system you lobby for was not the best school choice available for these students? Is it appalling that these stories and thousands of untold stories like these represent the most unfortunate breakdown of an aging public ed system that has failed to innovate for decades? After essentially corroborating these student stories, you attempted to minimize ODE’s recent unlawful actions then proceeded to cast a lot of shame out near the end of your rant. For shame’s sake, It may be time to take a long hard look in the mirror. These stories are just unique individual examples of how… despite yours and others best effort, ECOT has continued to grow and has risen to meet the unique needs of 10’s of thousands of kids in our state. It’s unfortunate that these stories and countless others don’t line up with your years worth of trash reporting on ECOT or with your agenda at the CEA. But what’s unfortunate to us is that more families and students struggling with their current schools are unaware of the option to attend a public online charter school like ECOT. These ads and our stories bring desperately needed public awareness to school choice options in Ohio. What’s most appalling to us is that the anti-school-choice camp is willing to go to such great lengths to discredit and squash these very important stories from public view. Why?

  • Susan Riley

    You’re obviously ashamed to use your real name to defend ECOT. Why is that? But I digress . . .
    I have a male relative living with me who just finished 8th grade with ECOT. He will be going to public school this school year because the curriculum for 8th grade was the equivalent of 6th grade in other schools.
    The 8th grade “school day” was from 9 AM until 12:30 pm – and that included “breaks” between classes – effectively reducing the school day to 3 hours. On top of that, “live sessions” were only offered Monday – Thursday. When you do the math, that’s 12 hours of instruction a WEEK, which roughly equals 2 days in public school.
    Cartoons were often shown during class – if students did well the day before. Is this kindergarten? I have spoken with several public school teachers, and each one has told me that ECOT kids, when they return to public school, are generally 2 years behind their peers academically.
    Personally, I hope Yost shuts them down completely, as they are nothing but con men of the first order!

  • ecotPALS

    Susan, Not ashamed of anything. The 8th grade curriculum and state testing requirements are the same at ECOT and every other district. ECOT students must take and pass the same tests as traditional B&M students… meaning that to achieve the same grade on PARCC or OGT, students from either type of school would require the same amount of teaching, preparation and studying. Your old school definition of what a “school day” is clearly exposes your difference in thinking compared to those with a more progressive view. In my world, the way we’ve always done it is a sign of needed change and an opportunity to improve. In your world the way we’ve always done it is tried and true…. and you know what – That’s fine. Online school is not for every student like your male relative but institutional ed is not for every student either… like my daughter. I happen to have 2 sons enrolled in traditional brick and mortar schools as well. My daughter is miles ahead of where she would have been without ECOT available as a school choice in Ohio. It’s nice that you have spoken with several school teachers but so have I. I speak with my daughter everyday and watch her progress closely. I spoke to hundreds of grads at last years ECOT graduation.. many of which with similar stories to the one’s that Greg here is commenting on. Your hope and desire for ECOT to be shut down is also your right…. but it’s just downright nasty. Here you have a school that has grown from 0 students 15+ years ago to now supporting 10’s of thousands, has graduated around 20K, employs hundreds of dedicated teachers and administrators… that you wish to be shut down. Your wish for all of us is to destroy our school. We are taxpayers, parents, teachers, students and alumni and we are all your Ohio neighbors. We choose ECOT. We would never wish those things upon the schools of your choice.

  • Cynthia Miller

    Do you realize that Greg, the person who wrote this piece never signs his full name to any of his ‘articles’ ? Why do you think that is?
    I have been online since before what you know as the Internet began, when it consisted of dial-up ‘bulletin-boards’ and I have seen a lot during the past 20+ years when it comes to reactions to what someone’s posts. From verbal threats to stalking and even killing posters over their opinions. Yes, killing them. Internet homicide is a real thing. So, I have no problem with people who are voicing their opinions while using an alias, unless they are trolls (who deserve a ban). As for people who consider themselves ‘journalists’, who are reporting information as actual ‘news’, they should be attaching their real name to their article. But, of course, Plunderbund is a political blog, which is biased. I lean left, but don’t prefer bias in my news, otherwise, it’s not really news, is it? It’s just someones biased opinion. Real news presents factual information and allows the reader to form their own opinion, without being told what to think.

  • Cynthia Miller

    Greg, everyone in commercials follow a script. From selling soap to making an attempt to lure you to use their bank, to trying to convince you to vote for them in an upcoming election. Why should ECOT’s commercials be any different?

    We get that you hate ECOT and you want them to stop producing commercials that convey to viewers that the ODE wants to shut them down, but how about you stop beating a dead horse and provide us with some factual information without your condescending, biased opinion attached to it?

  • Lisa Dickson

    As someone who knows and works with Gabe on a regular basis as part of his work with the OHIO Youth Advisory Board, I can state with all assurance that his story is true.

    It’s important to note that the goals of young people and the school they currently attend during their teenage years can and does change. For foster care youth, school changes are even more common.

    In Gabe’s case, he “aged out” of foster care and began living on his own while trying to finish his senior year. This has proved to be challenging. ECOT was and is his safety net.

    Gabe still plans to attend college in the future, but his timeline will be a bit delayed. He is considering his current college prospects, in the light of some bumps in his journey, and researching resources to help make his higher education experience successful.

    No matter what, two things are true:

    1.) Gabe is a survivor, with the capacity to move forward in his life regardless of obstacles.

    2.) Gabe was telling the truth (and not a scripted story) when he spoke out on behalf of ECOT.

    Whatever your feelings are about ECOT, please do take the time to fact check with us before making slanderous accusations about our young people. They matter a great deal, and are working their hardest to build successful futures. If you have further questions about Gabe’s story, please do feel free to contact the OHIO Youth Advisory Board directly.

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