Thursday, March 22, 2007

Public Vs Private Education Conspiracies

Katie Christensen, of the Sutherland Institute, commented on my post "Schools in your area", in response to a theory that suggested that Sutherland wants us to think that private schools are geographical closer than public schools.

...We get our school addresses from the State Board of Education website. We have noticed that some of the addresses listed on that site are wrong...
Now Sutherland had been accused of being biased, which all organizations larger than zero people are. Katie doesn't not seem to be denying that fact. Qualitatively, however, the information that Sutherland has mashed together, in their School locater tool, is not influenced by Sutherland's distinct bias. Sutherland merely runs their calculations against the State Board of Education data.

So, maybe the State Board of Education wants us to think that private schools are more accessible than public schools?


Natalie said...

I think the addresses of the schools are right. I don't know how to program a computer to know that a school in South Bountiful is just as close (or closer) to a home in North Salt Lake as a school in North Salt Lake.

Again, most of my concern with the site was that it had misleading or incorrect information about my neighborhood school.

I checked the new list, and from a quick glance, it appears that my neighborhood school is in the top 25% in academics, and in the bottom 25% in atmosphere. Atmoshphere seems a little subjective of an area to judge.

Either way, anyone who wonders if the Southerland institute is biased against public education just needs to listen when Paul Mero opens his mouth. With his statements, I don't know how anyone can expect their school rankings to be fair to public schools.

I know I am not their intended audience, but someone at Southerland should sit down and decide if Mero does more harm than good.

Katie Christensen said...

Here are some facts you might find of use while looking at our site.
There is no such thing as "atmosphere" rankings on We do have environment rankings which are based on the extra services a school offers as well as its advantages, such as class size, tutoring services, parent organizations, and extra-curricular activities.
Again Natalie, if you have any more questions, just shoot me an email at and I would be more than happy to address them. I would recommend checking to see if the information regarding your neighborhood school is accurate there.
There is also a useful "Frequently Asked Questions" portion of the site that can be accessed at the following link:

Natalie said...

Katie - You're right. As I said, I just glanced at it quickly. And I do not believe that the errors on your site are intentional. Maybe you did get the wrong information from the state or district. But, just for my neighborhood school, there are three items that I know are wrong.

The point I was trying to make this time is that because of the bias Paul Mero has against traditional public education, I have a hard time trusting anything the Southerland Institute says about the quality of my school, or any school. And, if you or your Southerland colleagues want to appeal to and influence mainstream, moderate Utahns, the Southerland Institute should decide if he does more harm than good.

Again, I am not your intended audience, and if your purpose is to invigorate ultra-conservatives, than he is probably your man. If you want to help solve Utah's problems (both in education and in other areas) you may be better served with a less incendiary voice.