Fraud by VOTE YES on 98 Campaign?
Stand for Children has spent millions to pass ballot measure 98. According to reports through August 10, 2016, the top donor in support of this measure, Stand for Children, Inc., provided approximately 71 percent of the campaign's total war chest. It contributed $3,058,210 in cash and in-kind donations. Political action committee Oregonians for High School Success/Vote YES on 98 campaign are doing the work of supporting measure 98.
The VOTE YES on 98 campaign uses one graph in particular as its primary tool of persuasion. It’s the PBJ DATA BANK graph pictured below.
Click here for a printable version.
The graph is from the Portland Business Journal but makes no reference of that except for the initials. The campaign refers to it as the “Peanut Butter & Jelly" graph while inaudibly glossing over the words Portland Business Journal in the presentation. Everyone laughs at the PB&J remark as the campaign rep proceeds to give a spiel about the wonders of career tech and vocational tech classes on graduation rates. She points to the graph as she explains the significant difference Vocational programs make in raising graduation rates in various student populations.
Vocational training strikes a chord in the hearts and minds of Oregon voters. They remember trades classes fondly and were sadden when austere budget cuts removed them from the high school curriculum. It’s a slick promotion. Trouble is it has little basis in fact.
The source of the information on the graph is the Oregon Department of Education (ODE). In tiny, squint-inducing print is this statement which isn’t mentioned during the presentation nor apparently read by anyone — except possibly me:
THE CTE BOOST
An analysis from the Oregon Department of Education shows the graduation rates of students who earned one or more credits in career-technical education courses is significantly higher than the general graduation rate.(sic) The ODE cautions, though, that the data shouldn’t be interpreted to mean CTE causes higher graduation rates.
Absurd. That fine print reverses the argument the campaign is making. Not to mention that lower class sizes, a 180-day school year, experienced teachers, libraries, more art, music, and P.E., early intervention, tutoring, and family engagement are much better predictors of higher graduation rates. AND, measure 98 specifically states that preference may/shall be given to more STEM (science, technology, engineering, mathematics) classes, not vocational programs. Oregon already has plenty of funding dedicated to STEM programs. Wouldn't it make more sense to plan and properly fund vocational and other education projects than to kowtow to the whims of the billionaire supporters of Stand for Children?
The rollout of VOTE YES on 98 has certainly been deceptive. The definition of fraud is wrongful or criminal deception intended to result in financial or personal gain. Do the deceptive practices of the VOTE YES on 98 campaign rise to the level of fraud? Time will tell.