The Wichita Eagle’s Rhonda Holman, in her recent editorial Business should get off fence on bond, urges voters to get educated about the proposed Wichita School bond issue. It would be helpful if she’d do the same.
Just two small examples: First, Ms. Holman says that the reforms that I have promoted “have nothing to do with the district’s pressing facilities needs.” Here’s why she’s wrong.
USD 259 says they want to be held accountable. They say so. But it is only choice– giving parents real choices that they’re capable of exercising — that can hold them accountable. Anything less is not effective. As illustrated by the failure of USD 259 to positively respond to citizen record requests, USD 259 is not willing to release information that will help citizens — and newspaper editorial writers too, if they’re truly interested — hold the district accountable. Even casual information requests take time to fill. For example, in support of the current bond issue, USD 259 claims that research supports arts and athletics as ingredients in the success of students. But if you ask them to provide a reference to this research so that you can read it for yourself, it might take nine days for USD 259 to supply it. That’s how long it took for them to respond to me. You might think that if the district makes a claim, they would have evidence supporting it ready.
Then, contrary to Ms. Holman’s claims, school choice reforms can help with the district’s pressing needs. One such need is overcrowding. If charter schools opened, the students that chose to attend them would reduce overcrowding in the Wichita schools. Overcrowding is not a district-wide problem, so it’s possible that this might not be a total solution. But Rhonda Holman dismisses it entirely.
Wichitans need to ask whether Rhonda Holman is simply misinformed, or whether she knows these things but ignores them to advance her political agenda.