Checklist for Evaluating a School Budget Referendum

1.  There’s time to evaluate a proposal.  The November election isn’t far, but it’s not tomorrow, either.  There’s time for a careful assessment. 

2.  Numbers, Figures, Results, Metrics.  Information should be presented fairly, and in context.  Old Whitewater has the mental tic of wanting to look good, regardless of whether performance is good.  They’re not the same thing. 

Analysis demands more than a simple numerology, as though a figure here or there means all the world.  (In any event, where sound reason and true faith appear, a superstitious numerology disappears.) 

The suitable tools of analysis are competitive American standards, not public-relations talking points.  

3.  Substance First.  I’ve argued that government should Lead Substantively, Support Fiscally

As a right, people may say as little or as much as they’d like. 

In my own case, however, if I consider a referendum, I will do so beginning with what I think matters for the curriculum, and thereafter consider what’s needed to achieve those goals. 

A discussion like this isn’t simply about money, but about objectives, where those objectives concern academics, athletics, and art beyond mere top-line results.

Learning is a process, independent of a score.  

Having contended that one should see it this way, I’ll write about it that way, or not at all. 

4.  Schooling, Education, Lifelong Learning.  Schooling (in the classroom), education (as a description of formal learning in all its forms), and lifelong learning are not the same things. 

We hope each leads to the support for, and participation in, the next. 

Along the way, a few will insist that to ask questions about schooling and education – merely to inquire – is evidence of an anti-education bias. 

I’m neither persuaded that’s true, nor deterred by those who facilely insist that it is true.   

My paternal family acquainted me with university life from the time I was a small child.  It was an expected path, and I recall my first visit to campus before I began kindergarten. 

My father and uncle took me to campus, to a football game and thereafter walked me across the university.  They wanted me to see the large number of students, the excitement of the game, and then to show me prominent places nearby.  It was nearly overwhelming for a small boy, those sounds and crowds, but they followed it with a quiet walk past buildings on a late afternoon. 

Yet schooling and education only mean something if one believes in them as something of meaning; from that belief, lifelong learning follows easily.

It’s an easy life to love, not superficially, but deeply. 

It’s not the meaning of metrics, numbers, diplomas, and degrees that matters, but the underlying understanding that comes from and after one’s schooling. 

I’ll not make the mistake of confusing those separate things; it’s a subject that deserves more care than that. 

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