Our heart goes out to the families in Ohio who were relying on the Electronic Classroom of Tomorrow (ECOT) for their children’s education. It saddens us to hear that this alternative to the traditional school environment which worked well for so many families is now suddenly shuttered, to the detriment of the students. Some families are deciding to enroll in other online schools such as Buckeye Online School for Success, or Ohio Virtual Academy. Columbus City Schools are also preparing for an influx of enrollment. The Columbus Learning Cooperative provides a radically different alternative to these options.
There is another way. Your child doesn't have to go back to school.
Transitioning from ECOT
Not Back To School
When we say that your child does not have to go back to school, we mean it. Tens of thousands of young people build lives for themselves without school (neither online, nor brick and mortar), every year, though homeschooling. Many parents think that homeschooling is not an option for them because they don't stay at home or they wouldn't know how to teach the information. Yet actually, homeschooling is a lot more accessible than you might think!
Our Alternative to School
The Columbus Learning Cooperative (CLC) is a teen liberation center that helps learners ages 10-18 leave school to pursue their own interests through self-directed learning. In our resource-rich environment, members engage in weekly, one-on-one mentorship and the choice to take classes with community leaders teaching their passions. Our members register as homeschoolers and then attend the CLC on a part-time or full-time basis. They build strong relationships with other learners, work on personal projects and explore Columbus with frequent field trips. It is an age-mixed environment where everyone participates in self-governance during our Town Hall Meetings and Jury Committee.
Building a meaningful life
When young people spend their education exploring what is truly meaningful to them, they end up much more prepared to build a life of purpose and fulfillment. After attending programs like ours, learners go on to four year colleges, start their own businesses, travel or do service work and apply to jobs using the portfolio that we help them build throughout their time with us. They leave with life skills such as cooking, cleaning and doing their taxes as well as a wealth of experience managing their own time and goals instead obediently doing what they are told. A better life without school is possible.
Frequently asked questions from ECOT parents
Is the Columbus Learning Cooperative an online school?
No, we are not an online school- in fact we are not a school at all! We are a homeschool resource center that provides support and community for parents locally to Columbus, Ohio. All of our members register as homeschoolers and then attend CLC on a part time or full time basis. Learners can also choose to take classes a la carte without a membership. Programs are held at our current location in Clintonville.
Was ECOT Self-Directed Learning?
ECOT could be considered "Self-managed learning" as opposed to self-directed learning because students did not have complete choice over the curriculum or material that they would be covering. However, it does have some similarities because of the greater autonomy given to the students as well as increased free time in comparison to a traditional school. In a truly self-directed learning environment, students are not simply choosing at what pace they would like to learn, but what they would like to learn; who they will learn from; and how, when and where the learning will take place. More information about self-directed learning can be found at the Alliance for Self-Directed Learning. Because students from ECOT already have experience managing some of their own time and learning, they will likely have a successful transition to an environment where they have complete control over their education.
How is the CLC funded?
Unlike ECOT, we are not a charter school so we do not receive funding from the state or federal government. This allows us to be totally flexible with our programming to fit each learner’s particular needs. This also means we will never have our charter revoked by the state so our funding is not dependent on a fiscal sponsor as in the case of Educational Service Center (ESC) of Lake Erie West. We are funded through tuition and generous donations, with scholarships available for families who qualify.
Is the CLC religiously affiliated?
No, the CLC is a secular organization. We welcome families of all religious and atheist backgrounds or otherwise. Families seeking specifically Christian-based homeschooling communities will find many other resources for them in Columbus including: Upper Arlington Christian Homeschoolers, Mid-Ohio Christian Homeschool Association, Central Ohio Christian Homeschool Chorus, The Learning Tree Homeschool Group, Classical Conversations, and others.
I registered my child with ECOT because of bullying at their brick and mortar school. How can I be assured that this group environment is safe and supportive for my learner?
The CLC is based on curiosity, empathy and self-directed learning. We use Nonviolent Communication (a language based on feelings and needs) to understand each other when conflicts happen. We embrace conflict as a way of learning about each other, growing and strengthening relationships within the community. Our flexible schedule allows us to take time to fully address issues when they arise instead of glossing over them, brushing them under the rug or simply sending a student to detention. We are a small community with about 12 members so each of us gets to know and care for each other quite well. In the past we have also collaborated with the Compassionate Communication Center of Ohio to give trainings to parents and staff to help them model empathetic connection for our learners.
What is the social makeup of the CLC community?
We are a diverse community of many races, genders, and sexual orientations coming from different neighborhoods and areas around Columbus. Our program is age-mixed so learners ages 10-18 can develop friendships and mentorships across the traditional boundaries created by grades. We are an inclusive community that strives to accept everyone for who they truly are, and help them thrive.
I signed my child up for ECOT because of anxiety and depression related to school. How do you address this?
The CLC is an environment in which students can choose how they spend their time at any given moment. Many students experience depression in traditional school environments because of their lack of autonomy and choice. They have trouble getting out of bed in the morning to go to a place where they are forced to learn things that have no personal significance to them, and they have no time to explore their own interests. Many students also experience social anxiety from a school environment where there are hundreds of students all around them. Our community is small, at about 12 members so learners won't feel overwhelmed.
My student used ECOT because of a chronic illness; would the Columbus Learning Coop work for me?
Because our schedule is flexible and all classes are optional, we have been able to support some members with chronic illness. Learners are always welcome to stay home if they are not feeling well enough to come to coop that day and there are no repercussions or arbitrary punishments for absences even for extended periods of time. We'd like to make the CLC as accessible as possible for every family and support the health of our members whatever that may mean to them.
What should I do to maintain the continuity of my child’s education now that ECOT has closed?
As soon as you can, it is a good idea to get your child’s transcript from ECOT. Some parents local to Columbus have had success by visiting their location at 3700 S. High St to request a transcript in person. ECOT is likely receiving an influx of requests for this information at this time, so rest assured that the CLC does not need a copy of the transcript in order to begin attending our program, but it will be helpful for your future records. If you intend to homeschool your student for the rest of the year, you will need to send a letter to the superintendent, notifying them of your intent to homeschool. This is something that we support families in doing all the time and are happy to help you with if you choose to become a member of the CLC.
Can the Columbus Learning Cooperative be joined at any time?
Yes, we are always welcoming new members. Learners who have just joined us can begin many of the classes that are currently running. New classes start 3 times a semester and once your learner has joined as a member, we will work on pitching classes specifically to their interests.
Is it possible to do a day at the CLC to test it out before committing to becoming a member?
Absolutely! We recommend Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays as good tester days as these are the days of the week with the most activities going on. Friday is our most well attended day as it's when we do Town Hall meeting and a field trip in the Columbus community.
How will my student be assessed as a homeschooler?
Every year, homeschoolers can choose to do a standardized test assessment or a portfolio and narrative based assessment. The CLC employs a certified teacher to perform the portfolio assessment interview as all of our families currently go the portfolio-based route. We help our learners keep track of their personal projects and goals through weekly mentorship meetings. At the end of the year, the portfolio will look different for each learner depending on what they are passionate about and what work they have done that year. The interview takes about an hour during which the certified teacher attempts to answer the question, “Did this student perform to the best of their ability this year, and grow?” If the answer is yes, then the student is compliant with homeschooling law and can advance to the next year of homeschooling.
My student is younger than 10 years old, is it still possible to send them to the Columbus Learning Coop?
We make rare exceptions for students who we feel are mature enough to succeed in a self-directed learning environment. If this is not your child and you are still interested in homeschooling in a supportive group environment, then we recommend checking out Red Oak Community School- a wonderful sister program in Columbus that serves the needs of younger children.
I’m interested in learning more about transitioning from ECOT to the Columbus Learning Cooperative.
Check out the rest of our website to learn more about what we do. You can email questions to firstname.lastname@example.org or give us a call at 614-943-3252. We’d be happy to set up a time to talk in person with you and discuss your options. Check out the infographic for more info about the process of becoming a member. You can also follow us on Twitter, Instagram and Facebook for updates on what our students are learning and a view into our community.
Also check out our main Frequently Asked Questions page for answers to more general questions.