We just received our copy of the Jordan School District’s Newsletter called Windows (pdf). For those who don’t get the publication it is supposed to be a way for the School District to communicate about the successes in the District to the people in the community.
While it would be nice if they presented the failures too, they wouldn’t do that because then they would get a bad name. But that really isn’t the issue with the most recent publication.
My big concern is the lie found on page two. Specifically, I am focused on the graphic that supposedly represents the fiscal responsibility of the district.
As I looked at this graphic, I couldn’t help but think that something was wrong. Then I remember from my Statistics 110 class in college. They taught me that one way to lie about statistics is to let the graphic do the lying for you. You don’t manipulate the number to tell a different story, instead you manipulate the graphic.
That means the presenter does something in the graphic that makes it look like the numbers represent more or less than it really does. This is sometimes done by using a brighter (or darker) color to make it look bigger (or smaller). Sometimes they do this by using two different graphics that portray the numbers differently giving one a more appealing appearance.
As I looked the dollar over I realized that “Administrative” cost were about 7% of the budget for the District. However, the darkened area sure seems to be more like 1 or 2%. So, I got out a trusty ruler and did some quick math. The graphic should have had a lot larger dark area for Administrative costs. It should have looked more like this:
Then I realize that there is another section other than in classroom spending. It is for “Support Services.” What are support services if they aren’t administrative? I thought that administrations were to support the schools?
I read through the supporting article, and there is not discussion about what support services are. My guess is that they are anything that the administration can hide from administrative costs in order to make their district look good.
So, I would personally like to lump support services with administrative costs and argue that the Jordan School District is spending 33% (that’s 1/3) of our tax dollars on administration, and that seems outrageous to me. Sorry, Jordan School District this is one tax payer who isn’t impressed with your numbers.