Waste is always worthy of being exposed and addressed. It’s the pretentious nature and condescending attitude Jones has toward parents (i.e. ‘outsiders’) coupled with his failure to disclose conflicts of his go to “expert” and one-sided reporting that torpedoes his credibility. His bias was on full display.
Here’s a snippet from his report (“APA charter school blew nearly $500K in botched expansion plan”):
American Preparatory Academy [APA] is in the middle of a lengthy, expensive legal battle that has cost Utah taxpayers hundreds of thousands of dollars, all thanks to what critics suggest is poor planning and a sense of entitlement.
“It was an expensive, dubious project to undertake,” said Carol Lear of the Utah State School Board.
He goes on to go after APA’s actions but here’s what Jones left out of his report:
- He didn’t disclose Carol Lear is a counsel attorney to Lear & Lear, LLP, a competing law firm (specializing in education law) to the one paid to represent the charter school in Jones’ report. Her firm is one which, just a few months ago, bid on a state school board contract resulting in conflict of interest concerns: “State board mulls possible conflicts after firms of 2 school board members bid on $40,000 contract“.
- Jones didn’t disclose Lear’s apparently passionate involvement prior battle with this issue and APA which occurred and was reported on over a year ago. She certainly wasn’t one of the “board members [who] were more moderated in their communications, while still hinting at discomfort over the issue.”
- In the televised newscast, he concluded, telling the KUTV anchors, that charter schools aren’t managed well because parents sit on the board instead of an elected politician or a professional education administrator.
Believe it or not, parents have a vested interest in the school’s operation (they pay for school and often volunteer) and their kids are directly involved and may be harmed. Meanwhile, a politician’s interest is in a career path. Of course, the media is in bed with professional political swamp, so not much of a surprise here that KUTV would want to promote the latter.
Charter schools are far, far more responsive to parents than a traditional school. I speak from experience. Obviously, not all charter schools are good (conversely, plenty of traditional schools suck too) but they are overall much more responsive and, at least, bear the consequences of their actions (decreased enrollment, funding, and eventual closure). Traditional schools generally don’t have this level of feedback. In economics, it’s been long known that the closer an individual or organization is to the funding source of their service, the better job they do – just read the section on public and private education pros and cons in Adam Smith’s The Wealth of Nations.
I looked through several KUTV “Beyond the Books” reports and I didn’t see such a ‘tenacious’ report on waste and poor management from the traditional public schools and I’m sure there’s plenty (some options: student data sharing, school fee abuses, Taj Mahal buildings, apparent violations of Utah code and district policy). Maybe he’ll go after them with the same zeal but I’m not counting on it.
I’m sure Jones has never found any problems with any politician’s decision…well, besides those he politically disagrees with. But he can sure run some exposé when it’s someone outside the anointed Utah political insider club like a bunch of parents on a board…ugh that icky rabble should just stay out of the playpen.
All this begs the question given the one-sided nature of his “reports”: Who’s feeding Jones the attack information so he can act as their hired gun? At least one of his benefactors is the left-wing Alliance for a Better Utah who sicced him on School Board member Lisa Cummins and I suspect he’s happily aligned with them and/or just plain lazy and happy to regurgitate what he’s been told.
I already linked to this above, but if you really want to know what’s going on with the APA issue in a much more objective manner read this in full: Should Utah charter schools be allowed to seize private land? Maybe Jones should ask the article’s writer, Benjamin Wood, to mentor him. Otherwise, he and KUTV are always welcome to the world of blogging where he can spout his opinion rather than feigning objectivity.
Note: I’m not affiliated with APA nor at all enamored with their actions based on what I read in Wood’s actual reporting (last link above). I’m just sick of pretend journalists (“fake news”). If you’re going to advocate, fine, just be open and explicit – don’t call yourself a journalist.
Side note for potential future reference: I stumbled on this. Apparently Carol Lear isn’t a fan of concealed carry and weapons training in schools:
“It’s a terrible idea,” said Carol Lear, a chief lawyer for the Utah Office of Education. “It’s a horrible, terrible, no-good, rotten idea.”
Utah educators say they would ban guns if they could, but legislators left them with no choice. State law forbids schools, districts or college campuses from imposing their own gun restrictions.[I believe this the opinion of the UEA]