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Morning Sun
  • GUEST COLUMN: KPI ad insulting, deceptive

  • I was disappointed to see the negative ads from the Kansas Policy Institute about last year’s test scores for our area schools. They deliberately misled the public by redefining categories and then claiming our students were failing.

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  • I was disappointed to see the negative ads from the Kansas Policy Institute about last year’s test scores for our area schools. They deliberately misled the public by redefining categories and then claiming our students were failing.
    The state assessments are standards-based tests. They are scored and placed into five categories, much like an A through F grading scale. The lowest two categories — D and F in my example — are BELOW standard and are not considered passing.  
    The middle category is called “meets standards” and is a passing score. Any of the top three performance levels passes.
    Except in KPI land. To get their scores, KPI just redefined the categories! KPI makes the preposterous claim that the “meets standards” group somehow failed the test. Then they made a chart with the phony numbers and ran it 3 times last week.
    What are the real scores? How about Girard MS, where 97 percent passed reading and 96 percent passed math. Or Frontenac JH with 97 percent in reading and 92 percent in math? Cherokee Elementary, with 91 percent in reading and 90 percent in math, or Nettels with 88 percent in both? There’s Girard HS with 90 percent in reading and 94 percent in math, or Chanute HS with 91 percent in reading and 90 percent in math. There are many buildings with excellent scores, and a few with clearly some work left to do. But there are NO schools with the low scores that the ad claimed. Not a one.
    Teachers and districts are not afraid of accountability, but we don’t agree to move the target after the arrow is shot. Our state assessments are challenging, and the individual scores needed to pass are appropriate. We don’t need an anti-tax group to tell teachers and schools what our kids need to know and do.
    Finally, I wondered why a Wichita anti-tax group would be buying ads bashing our schools. Then I realized they had purchased identical ads in papers scattered across Kansas with similarly deceptive scores. Why attack our schools, or their schools either?
    Because our communities support our schools and want them funded. The state economy is rebounding. Some of the funding cuts can be restored, and programs can be reinstated. We can again provide the programs and services that make Kansas a better place to live, to work, and to raise our children.   
    Unless we blow it on another tax cut.
    And that’s what the KPI ads are really about. They come to our town and insult our schools, our teachers, and our students – for more money. Their New York billionaire bosses must still not have enough money. More money for them, and less money for kids, for our elderly, and for our most vulnerable citizens.
    Now it makes sense.
    So when you see information from KPI, remember their motive. They have shown a disregard for any of our shared Kansas values, including the power of quality public schools to lift our children to a brighter tomorrow.
    Page 2 of 2 - —Tony White, Director, UniServ Southeast/Kansas NEA, Pittsburg

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