Yesterday, Citizens Alliance for Responsible Education (CARE) filed their campaign finance report. This group was in favor of the bond issue to benefit USD 259, the Wichita public school district.
There are some interesting details in this report, but there’s one glaring omission: there’s no mention of the campaign contribution made by the taxpayers of USD 259.
The administration of USD 259 says they spent nothing on a campaign to pass the bond issue. They say what they did was merely an educational and informational campaign. But what USD 259 did had all the characteristics of a political campaign except the explicit appeal to vote “yes.” Anyone who saw the materials produced by USD 259 got the message loud and clear: vote yes for this bond.
The assertion that USD 259 ran an educational and informational campaign is ridiculous. The campaign materials contained nothing that was negative or even neutral towards the bond issue. Is that because no such facts exist? Of course not. An honest informational campaign would have given consideration to them. But that’s not what the Wichita school district wanted to provide.
Now I can understand architecture firms like Schaefer Johnson Cox Frey Architecture and construction companies making contributions to the bond issue campaign and not wanting negative or neutral information provided. These firms promoted the bond issue solely out of self-interest. They’ll design and construct buildings whether they’re useful or not.
But schools — their mission being education instead of politics and self-interest — should be different. Schools should seek to teach the truth, and the only way to do that is to provide balance. That’s not what the Wichita school district provided the public during the bond issue campaign.
We’ll probably never be able to learn how much USD 259 spent promoting the bond issue. In the future, when taxpayer-funded entities like USD 259 run informational campaigns, we’ll need a method for balanced information to get to the voters.
Click here to download CARE’s campaign finance report.