Same old “unification” disinformation from the Chamber and CUEE

This is what CUEE Referendum Supporters apparently support, and why I call on them to stand up and say whether they are for or against it: the same old disproved disinformation sent again yesterday by a CUEE board member from the Chamber’s own email address to Chamber members. If you support CUEE, you support this disinformation campaign instead of real research that shows consolidation would do nothing to improve education, it would raise everyone’s taxes, and it would not help attract industry. Instead, it would seriously damage public education.

This is not a time to be silent. Which side are you on? CUEE and the Chamber’s propaganda campaign? Or public education, and you will vote no?

CUEE Board Member “Jud Rackley, CPA” emailed yesterday from, subject “The Truth About School Taxes and Unification”, including:

I’ve heard several people say school unification will cause a significant tax increase. Yet, no one seems to know why this would happen. It appears this rumor is based on a document circulated by the Lowndes County Board of Education.
Dr. Troy Davis spelled out why taxes would increase, based on actual tax statements, plus information from the Lowndes County Tax Assessors’ office and the actual budgets of the Valdosta and Lowndes County School Systems. See also former Valdosta School Superintendent Sam Allen’s partial list of massive layoffs, service cuts, and school closings caused by reduced income because of less federal and state funding, and increased costs due to bussing. And the formal statements against consolidation approved overwhelmingly by both school boards. In addition to these statements by people with actual experience in school administration, see also the extensive statement against consolidation by the Valdosta City Council, and even the VDT turned against this consolidation effort. If that’s not enough, David Mullis has compiled all the research into a convenient Grassroots Handbook Against School Consolidation.

Opposed to all this evidence, we have this undocumented letter by a CPA who gives no evidence of knowing anything about the local school systems. He trots out the same tired “common sense” talking point that was used by the speaker at the Chamber’s 11 October meeting. It was already disproven then by Dr. Troy Davis’ work. Why are CUEE and the Chamber still repeating it?

The one document that Jud Rackley cites is:

Page 56 of the University of Georgia’s Carl Vinson Institute study on school unification, which says, “city residents can expect a slight decrease in their school millage rate (16.98 mills) while county residents can expect a slight increase in their school millage rate (14.70 mills).”
He does not provide a pointer to that document, and it’s not on CUEE’s website, but it’s on the Chamber’s website as a PDF. It’s from 2008, and it does not take into account decreased federal and state funding because the school system would be larger, nor bussing costs, nor any of the other factors that Dr. Troy Davis’ analysis of this month takes into account. Besides, that’s the same Carl Vinson Institute study that said “unification” wouldn’t save money and wouldn’t improve education. From that study’s executive summary:
2. There is little, if any, financial advantage to unification of two school systems the size of Valdosta City and Lowndes County; a minimal long-term savings is possible.

4. Unification is not a ‘silver bullet’ and will not in and of itself ‘fix’ the problem of unacceptable graduation rates and AYP status;
So if you choose to believe that study, you need to also believe that “unification” is a bad idea, and you should vote no.

Jud Rackley concludes:

I encourage Valdosta voters to research the facts about school unification before heading to the polls and voting on this important issue.
Yet he doesn’t follow his own advice. The only research he provides is a superficial study from five years ago that has since been proven wrong by people with real local experience.

If you support the Chamber and CUEE’s school consolidation, you support that kind of shallow and incorrect propaganda that would damage public education and raise all our taxes.

If you go by evidence, and you support public education, you will vote No on November 8th.

Which side are you on?