On June 16, 2008, I asked officials of USD 259, the Wichita public school district, two simple questions. At least I thought they were simple.
One question had to do with some figures about violent acts in the Wichita schools. The number of violent acts seems high, but before I could understand the meaning of the figures, I needed to know the definition of a “violent act.” The Kansas State Department of Education, which is where I found these figures, told me that the definition of a violent act is determined individually by each school district.
So I wrote to Wendy Johnson, Marketing and Communications Division Director for USD 259, and asked this simple question: “Can you tell me where I can learn what USD 259 uses to define a violent act in the context of these numbers from the Kansas State Department of Education?”
The other question I asked on that day was this: “In a recent column in the Wichita Eagle, Mark McCormick wrote about increasing test scores in the Wichita public school district. I asked him for the figures he relied on, and he couldn’t supply them. I have looked around the usd259.com website for some time, and for the life of me, I can’t find figures like the ones Mr. McCormick must have relied on. Can you please tell me where I can find test scores so that I can verify the claims Mr. McCormick made?”
Notice that I’m not asking someone to send me the test scores. All I asked is where they can be found.
Today is July 23, 2008, some five weeks later, and I have no response. I followed up with Ms. Johnson a few weeks ago, and she tells me that the answers are forthcoming.
Do you think that citizens should be able to get answers to questions like these without waiting five weeks? If you do, please contact Wendy Johnson, whose contact information may be found here: Marketing and Communications Division. Then, please leave a comment to this story telling us what happened.