At BIPPS it's all about the message. Facts are mixed with errors and wild speculation to slant any story toward their predetermined goals. Modestly paid functionaries toil over reports and studies looking for anything that can be twisted into a on-going narrative about the big bad government. Public bad. Private good. After all, if rich folks are going to spend their money to hire underlings to express a point of view - they expect to get what they paid for.
And how much are these donors willing to spend? About $320,000 in a given year. Later in this post I'll attempt a BIPPS-style expose...of BIPPS. But first, Mr Waters.
The latest misinformation is from JWaters@freedomKentucky.org and hit my email inbox Monday as an audio file titled "KIRA-Testing."
That was my first clue, it was going to be about KERA. Close enough for BIPPS.
The audio didn't come with a warning label. But it should have.
The speaker opened with,
"Hello Kentuckians. I'm Jim Waters for the Bluegrass Institute."I'm pretty sure he got that part right.
Waters begins with the premise that,
"Kentucky's school testing system just doesn't work."This, three days after the legislature acted to dismantle the system. In support of his premise Waters offers the following:
"In 1988, Kentucky implemented the Commonwealth Accountability Testing system."Uh oh. Factually inaccurate. First KIRA, now 1988. Just 14 seconds into the piece and the only thing Waters has convinced me of is that he doesn't know what he's talking about.
But he persists,
"In 1990, the legislature passed KERA, the Kentucky Education Reform Act, which gives money to schools based on their test scores. The higher its students score on CATS the more money the school gets. Therefore, schools have focused class content solely on CATS material."That's three. He is using present tense, so one must assume that Waters is either years behind the times - just where I suspect he'd like us all to be - or he is intentionally misinforming his listeners. As informed people know, Kentucky's rewards program was removed by the Republican-controlled legislature a number of years ago. Schools that have received assistance in recent years are those who did not fare so well on the CATS assessment.
And of course Waters ends with the obligatory punch line about how school choice will solve everyone's problems.
One way to overcome this is to offer parents choice on where to send their children to school.He closes,
I'm Jim Waters for the Bluegrass Institute, advancing freedom, defending liberty, and building a more prosperous Kentucky online at BIPPS, B-I-P-P-S.org.At this point I had to laugh aloud. All he needed was a sound track of the Superman theme playing in the background.
I'm Jim Waters for Bluegrass institute; trafficking in hyperbole; spewing propaganda based on misinformation; and promoting the free-market principles that have made the nation's economy what it is today at BIPPS, B-I-P-P-S.org.
The piece is in error and ought to be retracted.
I wonder how the world would look to the folks at BIPPS if their microscopes were turned on themselves. What would they find if they looked inward? Would there be a big expose' in it?
I imagine a story something like this:
In a shocking development that is sure to rattle the foundations of freedom-minded Kentuckians everywhere, a lone investigator has uncovered substantial evidence of financial inefficiency and waste at the Bluegrass Institute for Public Policy Solutions based in Bowling Green.
According to the Institute's IRS Form 990, total revenue in 2007 was $332,534. But since the group's inception, circa 2005, BIPPS fundraising has accounted for as much as 24% of its total funding.
Outrageous! That means the group spends about a quarter of its money soliciting people for more money! This is a really big deal, one that has implications for future BIPPS donors and even the group's survival, given the current economy.
To make matters worse, it was revealed that only 32.1% of BIPPS funding ended up going toward the "program services" BIPPS tells its donors it will deliver, while another $106,277 or 31.9% of BIPPS funds were spent on "management and general expenses."
Whadyaknow. A libertarian jobs program!
In reaction to press reports of outlandish non-purposeful spending by some non-profits, researchers at the Urban Institute's National Center for Charitable Statistics (NCCS)/ Center on Nonprofits and Philanthropy and the Center on Philanthropy at Indiana University explored issues of nonprofit fundraising and administrative cost
reporting. They found that,
"The percentage of total expenses going to program costs is the most common measure of nonprofit organizational efficiency. Focus group research has found that donors expect worthy organizations to have low fundraising and administrative costs. Consequently, nonprofits frequently tout their low overhead ratios in their mailings to the donors. Most striking, the federal government's Combined Federal Campaign, which raised nearly $250 million for nonprofits in 2003, requires that participating organizations certify that their combined fundraising and administrative costs constitute no more than 25 percent of the organizations' total revenues."
Combined fundraising and administrative costs at the Bluegrass Institute, however, exceed 50%, a level of inefficiency not seen in the public school system since the removal of the highly localized Trustee System, where an almost complete lack of government regulation led to the misuse of untold thousands of Kentucky taxpayer dollars in the early 20th century.
If the astounding inefficiencies discovered at BIPPS is any indication of the level of operational efficiency we can expect from other privately-operated groups, then the public should move cautiously before offering privately-operated school choice options - and then, only if ethical and financial safeguards are in place to prevent profit from becoming the reason to open a school in Kentucky.
So, how'd I do?
All the facts will check out. It's all truth and opinion. I even believe almost all of it myself. But when do facts, misinformation and spin simply become a lie? Ask our friends at the Bluegrass Institute.