Thursday, February 21, 2008

Do you believe Senator Madsen, or...Who does Senator Madsen believe?

Senator Mark Madsen of Lehi claimed 25% of Alpine School District funds were spent on district administration when it's really less than half of 1%. He believes Utah as a whole spent 35% on administration. I already explained how that was false and was backed up by the district numbers in the article. He then claimed he was "misinterpreted" by the local media and expressed frustration that the Alpine District didn't come to him and "ask if I had been misquoted." See the D-News article here:,5143,695254916,00.html

I see two problems with Madsen's claims:

1. The inherent assumption that others should assume "local media" would "misinterpret" or "misquote," thus the need to vet your information with the assumably more trustworthy legislators.
2. The fact that he then apparently expects Alpine District Officials and others to only accept and believe his version of events, despite his uncritical acceptance of misinformation, or if you will, "misinterpreted information," from a corporate group with an anti-public-education agenda,

First, I've been to two local meetings with legislators in the last few months, one at Orem City Hall and one at Cherry Hills Elementary. They were both very informative and interactive...after the legislators finished their initial comments of over 30 minutes each time. Teachers were payed lip service both times, but were accused of lying about vouchers or opposing reform soon after. Both Senators at the Cherry Hills meeting falsely claimed the districts were mismanaging tax dollars and conveniently accused the media of "bias" when they talk negatively of the legislature. Having experienced these meetings, I would believe the words of a local paper or blogger over what the legislator claimed when in conflict. I would like more information here. Does anyone know what "local media" the article refers to? Were any of you there? I have a hard time believing that Senator Madsen claimed that Utah districts spend 35% of funds on administration...but of course, not Alpine.

That leads to the second problem. He got these numbers from the American Legislative Exchange Council, a corporate lobbying organization which advocates vouchers for the supposed full amount of spending per student and believes Classroom Size Reduction is unnecessary if we just teach better and use more alternate teacher certification. (I'm not kidding. Look at the first paragraph of the link below.)

ALEC on vouchers.

ALEC on Classroom Size Reduction.

ALEC also inflates spending-per-student in its state report cards besides dishonestly inflating administration costs.

Madsen said it was the American Legislative Exchange Council in December 2006. He was told that in 47 states in the country, the administrative costs for public education exceed 35 percent of their budget. He was told Utah had just crept into the "above 35 percent" category, upping the total states to 48.

Look at some of the comments after the article and see how they begin to arrive at the same conclusions as ALEC. Everything not in the "student instruction" category of the budget--i.e. teacher salaries--must be administrative waste. That includes the 6.52% on school administration (principals and vice-principals), 3.09% for support staff such as counselors and secretaries, 5.12% budgeted for instructional staff such as librarians, 8.55% on operation and maintenance of facilities, 3.75% percent on transportation, and 0.60% percent for the district business office, including accounting (and legislative audits...).

Those assertions go right along with Senator Madsen's bill to reward teachers for passing a test given by the ABCTE, a teacher headhunting company which alternatively certifies teachers for the low, low price of $850. Senator Madsen apparently believes that teaching is easy and that audits, buses, lunches, secretaries, and supplies are "luxuries" for a school.

A request: does anyone know of links to the "local media" who reported on the town meeting with Senator Madsen?

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