Inflation? Try an $800,000 Price Hike
As we reboot the Show-Me Curricula Project, it’s been interesting to compare the differences in responses between last year and this year. One difference this year is that we’ve received many more responses within the three-day window required by Missouri’s Sunshine Law. You can find those responses here.
However, the most obvious difference between the 2021 and 2022 requests isn’t the quicker time frame and greater participation. It’s higher prices—far higher prices. If we had paid for every school to respond fully to our request in 2021, the total bill would have come out to $59,980.63. In 2022, we would have paid $908,192.38. The average requested cost was $3,332.26 in 2021; it was $26,711.54 in 2022.
A significant amount of the massive price increase can be attributed to a group of three schools in the center of the state that each charged over $100,000 (I’ll discuss these schools in more detail in a later post). Still, ten other districts raised their estimates by at least $1,000, with the largest increase coming from rural Neelyville, which asked for $56,218.95. In 2021, Neelyville said it had no responsive documents to our request and did not bill us.
It’s not clear what is driving the huge price increase from Neelyville. Given that we have received underwhelming and disappointing responses from both small districts and large districts, it would seem the differences in curricular openness depend mostly on whether there’s a “culture of transparency” at a school, not whether critical race theory is present in the curriculum. (Just ask Kansas City Public Schools, which readily provided its school’s curricula and posts supporting these ideas in response to our request last year!) If nothing else, it would seem Neelyville’s “culture of transparency” has declined in the last 12 months.
In the end, schools choose whether their cultures will include transparency or not, and the estimates we’ve received in our curriculum requests show a troubling trend toward noncompliance.