(1924 National American Ballet)
Contrast the excellent coverage of what’s at stake for the various referendums taking place this coming Tuesday by my colleague TJ Mertz, in the post immediately below this one, with what was reported yesterday in the Wisconsin State Journal regarding three local ones chosen for coverage.
Three area school districts are holding referendums Tuesday — two say it’s to avoid the presidential election hoopla and another wants to finalize its budget as soon as possible.
Deerfield, Mineral Point and Weston school districts are each asking to exceed the revenue limit in order to pay for everything from daily operating expenses to maintaining staffing levels.
This type of coverage reflects the difficulties Madison will face in it’s referendum in November, this breezy piece failed to mention one of the basic W’s of good journalism – “why.” Why are these districts forced to go to referendum? For the low information voter reading about about one of these referendums for their community for the first time, they may wonder, why haven’t these school boards learned to live within their means during these tight economic times? Legitimate question, but the piece doesn’t provide the answer – it’s a dysfunctional state school finance system. A sentence or two would have sufficed. Instead, the reader is left to draw their own conclusions. I’ve brought up this issue previously of troubling referendum coverage that ignores the “why” of the story, with another journalist from the State Journal who replied to my critique (ironically enough, part of his piece was on the last failed referendum in Weston). It’s a pity the editors at the Journal have missed another opportunity to explain this budgeting shortfall, for one of the most critical functions of our government, educating our children.