An article in today’s newspaper reports on how USD 259, the Wichita school district, uses school district assets, personnel, and funds to promote the proposed Wichita school bond issue.
Oops. I meant to say to educate and inform. I made the same mistake that nearly anyone who has received material from USD 259 or has looked at their website makes. They call it for what it is: a political campaign designed to persuade citizens to vote for the bond issue.
Even the citizens group supporting the bond issue agrees. When they want to cite evidence — flimsy as it is — to persuade people to vote for the bond issue, they link to material on USD 259’s website. See Wichita School Bond Issue: Informing or Advocating? CARE Seems to Know.
Here’s an example of an email sent by a school principal. Since the email came from usd259.net, it’s certain that school resources were used to send this message.
From: Molly Nespor [mailto:firstname.lastname@example.org]
Sent: Wednesday, October 29, 2008 7:03 PM
Subject: Bond message
Good evening parents, this is Molly Nespor, Principal of Allen Elem. November 4 will be an historic day for our district, as citizens are being asked to vote on many critical races as well as our proposed bond issue. As you decide how you will register your vote, I want to remind you that this bond issue will benefit Allen by providing 4 new classrooms and a lunchroom cafeteria. Our bond issue is the final item on a rather lengthy ballot, so don’t forget to look for this question at the very end.
If you have any questions please contact the school office at 973-1750. Thank you for your support of Allen Elementary!
The message in favor of the bond that’s in this letter is milder than some of the other appeals the Wichita school district makes.
Citizens should also notice that the information provided by the Wichita school district never mentions alternatives or any material that would reflect poorly on the need for the bond. An informational campaign that is truly educational would be balanced. It would be an honest debate. The material that USD 259 presents is neither.