Sunday, May 22, 2011

Plains Pops: Paul Dorr's Yellow Flyer Edition

Although, the yellow flyer is addressed to my wife's previous husband, the address also includes the word "occupant," so I don't think that I've broken any laws by reading it.  Yankton's opt out version of Adam and Jamie in at optoutmythbusters.com are taking a look at the mailer as well, and probably need little help from me, but I will add a few comments.

*When Paul Dorr quotes Wal-Mart executive Paul Duke, Dorr conveniently forgets to include several statements. First,
Wal-Mart has struggled with seven straight quarters of sales declines in its stores.

Addressing that challenge, Duke said the company made mistakes by shrinking product variety and not being more aggressive on prices compared to its competitors. [emphasis mine]
In short, Wal-Mart admits that other stores are offer customers better prices. Wal-Mart's customers have less money to spend at the end of the month because Wal-Mart charges them more.  Duke even admits as much.,
"What's made Wal-Mart great over the decades is 'every day low prices' and our [product] assortment," he said. "We got away from it." [emphasis mine]
Further, a May 19, 2011 Wall Street Journal article states,
[Dollar Tree's] successful first quarter contrasts what is going on at the U.S. operations of the nation's biggest retailer, Wal-Mart Stores Inc. (WMT), and may further sentiment that Wal-Mart's business is being siphoned off by more convenient and just as bargain-oriented retail chains.

Dollar Tree, whose array of home goods, healthcare products and office supplies are all priced at $1 or less, saw higher customer traffic and more buying per trip propel it to a 59% jump in first-quarter profit.

"We are gaining new customers all the time," Chief Executive Bob Sasser said on a conference call with analysts. "And when they are in the store, they like what they find. They are buying more." [emphasis mine]
Fuel prices may be a factor, but the major factors for Wal-Mart's decreased sales are its business model and the fact that Super Wal-Marts are inconvenient for quick purchases.  Shoppers spend less at Wal-Mart because they buy more elsewhere.

*Next, Paul Dorr asserts that defeating the opt out "could prove very valuable to the financial future of our young people"  because it would allegedly teach them frugality.  Am I the only one who remembers this line of reasoning being expounded by a recent school board candidate who lost?

Frugality, it seems, is easier to preach than practice.  One would think that $5,550 would buy more than a yellow pamphlet, especially since Dorr has made destroying public education his life's calling

*Watergate, my first political memory, taught Americans to follow the money when one seeks to know the truth.  Rough estimates indicate that a Yankton School Board member would have to serve two three year terms to receive a stipend equal to Dorr's.  Dorr will get his money for approximately six weeks of work.  Following the money indicates that Dorr may have more personal reasons to spin and shade facts than the school board does.

*The yellow mailer has several charts that purport to illustrate a "dramatic" declining enrollment.  I will note that the author distorts the scale of various items, a classic propaganda tactic.  Further, the board has provided those numbers to the public in other forums.
A document has been produced by the Yankton School District showing full-time equivalent employees (FTE) by function in both the school years 2002-03 and 2010-11. There are 10 less FTE K-12 teachers —151.1 to 141.0. In the terms of total number of teachers (including special education, alternative education, music, technology and Title 1) there were 188.1 FTE’s in 2002-03 compared to 180 FTE’s in 2010-11. There are currently more Title I teachers on staff.

The total number of paraprofessional employees of the district in 2002-03 was 51 (9 regular classroom and 42 special education) in 2010-11 the total number is 65.6 (9.6 regular classroom and 56 special education).

The total number of support personnel in 2002-03 was 138.55 FTE, currently that number is 132.35 FTE.

In the same time frame, student enrollment has gone from 3,104 students to 2,747.
Tellingly, the mailer fails to mention that the district has fewer teachers than it had a decade ago.  It also fails to discuss new federal and state mandates that require additional staff.  Further, the pamphlet does not mention of NCLB or the fact that the number of graduation requirements has increased from 18 to 22.

*Nothing in the pamphlet answers the questions posed here.

*Finally, Dorr cites some of his statistics, but on page 3, he fails to identify a "SD group-health insurance leader."  One wonders if this "leader" could be the same person who lost the recent school board election and who held a forum where he "said the district is running a self-insurance program that violates its own policies, making it illegal and unconstitutional" and told  respected community members to sit down when they questioned him.  Eyewitness accounts have this same "leader" asking the school board to be "discourseful" at the conclusion of the May 19, 2011 special meeting.

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