The special mail-in-only School Bond Election February 11 couldn’t wait for the primary election coming up May 13. The white, 6 x 9 inch, late January mail piece with all the stars looks like junk mail, not an official ballot.
This star-studded ballot envelope was placed in the mail box of every voter residing in the Lincoln Public Schools (LPS) District. The single question on the ballot was a vote FOR or AGAINST bonds in a principal amount “not to exceed One Hundred Fifty-three Million Two Hundred Ninety-five Thousand Dollars” to benefit LPS.
Stakeholders would recognize this as a ballot. They will check the right box, read and follow the special instructions for a mail-only election, place a first class stamp on the Identification envelope and Voter’s Oath and return it by the due date. There are no polling places open for this “election”.
Prior to voting FOR or AGAINST school bonds not to exceed $153,295,000, education consumers ought to determine if $330.3 million in 2012-2013 expenditures were used effectively to ensure our students master basic skills.
As required by law, last fall we received the 2012-2013 LPS Annual Report in the mail. This annual report included the following student Test Results:
Nebraska State Accountability (NeSA) percent that met or exceeded state standards:
NeSA Grade 8 Reading LPS 81% State 78% Math LPS 69% State 66%
Contrast the NeSA results with the 2013 National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP) scores, percent at proficient or above:
NAEP Grade 8 Nebraska Reading 37% Math 36%
NAEP proficiency scores are roughly half the NeSA results.
This LPS annual report also included the headline: District-Wide ACT Scores. However, there were no ACT scores. Instead, that section reported the participation rate of graduating seniors who took the ACT. A search of the Nebraska Department of Education (NDE) website reveals LPS 2012-2013 average ACT scores were below the state and national average ACT score in every subject.
Content-rich, rigorous curriculum; mastery determined by a valid test of that content inform education consumers of quality and outcomes. The Advanced Placement (AP) calculus program at LPS is instructive in this regard.
During the 2012-2013 school year, 479 LPS students took AP Calculus. Of those, 67 students took the AP Calculus exam and 36 of those (less than 8%) received a 3, 4, or 5 passing grade, which qualifies for college calculus credit. In addition, an unknown number of LPS, AP Calculus students likely took the UNL math placement exam upon enrollment at UNL. This test is administered on-line via a link which allows the student to take the test wherever he/she likes. Apparently, college calculus credit can be awarded upon successful completion of an unprotected test. Neither LPS nor UNL track LPS graduate results for this test. A less than 8% verifiable LPS AP calculus pass rate calls the entire process into question.
Conversely, the union priority of occupied seats made big gains. In 2013 the LPS graduation rate was 87.1%. Union-supported politicians enact harsh truancy laws, yet bar charter schools and vouchers, despite persistent student learning failure.
A broad measure of national student learning failure is a walk through graduate science, engineering or math classes and labs on any college campus. American students are largely absent. Foreign-born students make up that population. Our education expenditures have been rapidly increasing while student learning outcomes remain flat.
The stakeholders who build schools, supply schools and work in schools would benefit from a successful outcome of this LPS mail-only Special Bond Election. Targeted direct mail marketing, a win for the client, becomes voter suppression when applied to government.
- Timing-Low participation can be expected for a single issue ballot when most voters are focused on the upcoming primary election.
- Disguised-This School Bond ballot envelope is small and white with star graphics. Typically, mailed ballots are large, brown and plain.
- Intimidating-There was no secrecy (blank) envelope included in which to seal the one-question School Bond ballot; renders the completed ballot not secret.
- Cost/inconvenience involved-No polling places are open for this election. The ballot requires a first class stamp if mailed or it can also be carried back to the Election Commissioner.
Along with student learning and achievement, voting rights are run over and flattened by this fine-tuned, ever-expanding edupolitical machine.