Friday, July 22, 2011

Study? Who needs to study? Let's go to Disney World!

"Despite pre-dating Oklahoma statehood," Senator Tom Coburn points out in a new report, "Riverside Indian School (RIS) in Anadarko, Oklahoma is one of only a handful of schools in the nation with an even more unusual distinction: it is run directly by the federal government."
Taxpayers may wonder, then, why hundreds of thousands of dollars have been spent on video games, amusement parks, and recreation when the school is failing basic academic standards.

Operated by the Bureau of Indian Education (BIE) at Department of the Interior, it is the agency's largest off-reservation boarding school with 540 students representing over 70 tribes. ... Unfortunately, Riverside Indian School has been plagued by low student performance. Its student dropout rate of 8.05 percent is nearly four times the Oklahoma average of 2.2 percent. The average Riverside composite score for the ACT, the primary college entrance exam administered to Oklahoma students, was 14.5 in 2010, well below the state average composite score of 20.7.

Given these serious challenges, it is unclear why the school has made so many purchases seemingly unrelated to improving academic performance:
  • $27,290 on a Positive Gaming iDance System. iDance markets its latest system as the "most advanced dance game ever."
  • $30,000 for "movie theater services" and movie passes.
  • $25,926 for an "incentive trip" to Disney World in Orlando, Florida for students who maintain at least a "C" average.
  • $20,000 for cell phone service.
  • $6,000 for a pilates/yoga instructor.
  • $5,337 for a plasma television.
  • $5,412 for mirrors for the high school gym.
  • $10,000 for "bowling and restaurant service."
  • Over $150,000 for sports apparel, including $9,950 for basketball shoes and $24,254 for NIKE basketball apparel.
  • More than $28,000 for tickets to Six Flags and Frontier City amusement parks.
  • $4,035 for lodging in San Antonio, Texas for "end of year incentive trip."
  • $2,181 for "prom services" and prom screen printing.

No comments: