Thursday, February 04, 2010

How To Become One of the Best School Districts in Michigan

cross posted at Right Michigan

The goal of becoming recognized as one of the best school districts in Michigan is not as difficult to achieve as you might think.

Sure, that recognition can be realized the old fashioned way by working hard in the classroom and honestly getting the standardized test scores up, but a much easier way can be found.

How can you do this?

AnnArbor.com reports:

The banner ad across the Lincoln school district's website proudly proclaims it has been recognized as one of the best school districts in Michigan.

The criteria for Lincoln and eight other districts being selected?

A $25,000 check.

Nine southeast Michigan school districts paid $25,000 each to a Detroit-area public relations firm to be "named," a top school district. That firm, in turn, bought airtime on a Detroit-area television station to broadcast a feature on the state's best schools. A website - bestschoolsinmichigan.com - also features the nine schools.

Mentioned nowhere on the videos or the website is the fact that the districts paid for the honor.
Heck, for $30,000 I would have sold them a "Best School in the Universe" certificate.

Many Michigan school districts are in a world of financial hurt. While there are a few rich districts here and there that have escaped some of the worst contractions, poorer districts are closing classrooms, laying off teachers, and cutting programs.

Despite this, nine southeast Michigan districts had enough extra money in their coffers to spend $25,000 on the purchase of accolades.

I'm in favor of school district competition. However, the results of this competition must be honest and easily discerned by parents. It cannot be manipulated into a marketing scam that fakes out parents in pursuit of what is best for their children.

When standardized testing first began to be used as a way to monitor all schools' progress, many districts nationwide got caught up in schemes to cheat the tests. Tests were opened before hand. Students were coached. Results were doctored.

The end result was that otherwise failing schools were allowed to circumvent the system and stay just as miserable at educating children as they ever were, and parents of these children were unable to make informed decisions in pursuing what was best for their children.

I am certain that these nine school districts are not legally guilty of committing fraud, but I do believe they are just as guilty of misleading parents as were those that cheated on standardized tests.

So, while the Lincoln School District is able to burn through twenty five grand on demonstrably deceptive advertising, Fairview Area Schools is contemplating taking an axe to its music program in order to save less than that amount.

Ah, public schools in Michigan. No wonder Jennifer was bragging so loudly last night.

1 comment:

cynicalsynapse said...

Just goes to show, there's nothing money can't buy and if you wish it, it will be true. At least in your own mind.

To break even on that $25k, the districts need to attract about 4 more students.