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Conversation Full of Facts

January 14, 2013

On this blog, I try to give you what you want. In spite of my rants about Value Added Measurements, I believe in using data to make decisions. It just needs to be meaningful data.

I use the metrics provided by WordPress to help me understand what readers want to keep reading. This week’s post on the mid-term adjustments by the state quickly shot to third place among the 150 or so posts I’ve written here. In fact, three of the top four posts are about the state (either the legislature or the SDE) shorting school districts on money. As responsive as people are to criticisms of the SDE botching implementation of the A-F Report Cards and TLE, the money stuff really gets them worked up.

WordPress also tracks page clicks from my blog, and of all the content I’ve ever embedded in my writing, nothing has ever been clicked as much as the link to the spreadsheet of the mid-term adjustments. That tells me people who come here want to be well-informed. They want to see the numbers for themselves. So far, the post has 984 page views (not counting views directly from the home page), and the link has 94 clicks. In other words, I’m writing to an intellectually curious audience.

You also read the papers. Most look for articles and editorials about education in the Oklahoman and the Tulsa World. When it comes to the mid-term adjustments, the Oklahoman has been silent. The World has nailed it though, in reporting, with editorials, and with a perfect political cartoon.

The conversation continues in smaller papers and in schools. It continues at coffee shops and at school board meetings. The key questions are whether the SDE is doing all it can to support public schools in a meaningful way, and whether funding for virtual schools unfairly dilutes the pot. We should also be asking why the entire pot of state aid has yet to be allocated.

This isn’t about schools always wanting more, as the Oklahoman’s writers would try to convince their readers. This is about schools having less aid to serve the kids already there. This is about unfunded mandates.

This is a conversation that needs to continue, honestly and factually.

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