Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Education Reporting: Obscurity Security?

As expected, I have thoroughly riled some folks with my reports on education spending. The name-calling is amusing and I'm thinking of starting a new blog called, "Ugly & Mother Dresses Me Funny." Amusement aside, I do want to point out the sources of information I have used to compile these reports.

One important resource is an in-depth report compiled by the non-profit,non-partisan Texas Public Policy Foundation entitled Examining Decades of Growth in K-12 Education: A Close Look at Spending and Achievement Trends.  The report was compiled by three education policy analysts and published in June of 2010, so the numbers are very current.  There are two-and-half pages of endnotes with resources. 

The second source of information is the Texas Education Agency website.  Supposedly in an effort to make education spending and results more accountable, the TEA puts reports for each district and school on-line.  I'll be the first to admit that there are conflicting numbers for the exact same reporting period in some cases, but supposedly this is where we are supposed to look for transparency on our school districts.  How convenient for districts to turn around and refer to statistics taken verbatim from those reports as lies. 

Perhaps we should refer to the education system's public reporting system as 'obscurity security.'  Make the reports varied and obscure, and keep them slightly out of date.  Throw in bizarre accounting measures for finance and test results (eg., The Texas Projection Measure) and presto!  No-one will know what's really going on; if anyone starts to figure it out, just call them 'registered nut jobs' and/or liars.

Perhaps we ought to rename the Texas Education Agency "The Office of Circumlocution."  Dickens would have loved it.

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