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Posted on Thu, Feb 4, 2010 : 6:02 a.m.

Lincoln pays $25,000 to be named one of the top school districts in Michigan

By David Jesse

The banner ad across the Lincoln school district’s website proudly proclaims it has been recognized as one of the best school districts in Michigan.

The criteria for Lincoln and eight other districts being selected?

A $25,000 check.

Nine southeast Michigan school districts paid $25,000 each to a Detroit-area public relations firm to be “named,” a top school district. That firm, in turn, bought airtime on a Detroit-area television station to broadcast a feature on the state’s best schools. A website - - also features the nine schools.

Mentioned nowhere on the videos or the website is the fact that the districts paid for the honor.

Representatives from the public relations company, Sussman Sikes, did not return multiple messages from over the past week. It’s unclear exactly when the program first aired, but it has been featured more than once on WXYZ Channel 7.


The Lincoln school district's website brags of the best schools honor.

A number of other school districts across the region, including Ann Arbor, were approached about paying to be part of the program. Ann Arbor was approached twice, including about a month ago, said Liz Margolis, Ann Arbor’s director of communications.

“Their pitch was that they would love Ann Arbor to be part of a half-hour show, and that they would showcase whatever we wanted showcased in exchange for a fee,” Margolis said. “I couldn’t justify it in my budget, but I also felt it bordered on the line morally and ethically (because there was no selection criteria).

“As long as we were willing to pay the freight, we would be selected as one of the best schools in Michigan.”

Lincoln Superintendent Lynn Cleary sees it differently.

“Unfortunately, with printed media becoming scarce within our county, we were looking for creative ways to reach a larger audience and felt this was a great way to acknowledge what we are doing well and to highlight our strong academics,” she said. “We were involved in the process of selecting what we were highlighting from start to finish. We actually received all of the filming tapes so we will be able to produce individual DVDs for new families moving into the area, and we will be able to provide links for each building to use on their individual website.”

The video highlights Lincoln’s multiage program, its engineering program and the Early College Alliance that involves Lincoln and other local districts. The video does not mention the ECA also is being run by those other districts.

Narrated by former Detroit-area television reporter Lila Lazarus, the video says Lincoln “has something special to offer every student.”

As a schools of choice district, Lincoln accepts students who don’t live in its attendance boundaries. Under the state’s current school funding plan, each student is worth $7,300 to the district.

Lincoln has a marketing budget of about $30,000 a year, but most years it doesn’t spend it all, Cleary said.

Dearborn Communications Coordinator David Mustonen said the money a district gains from increasing enrollment makes the investment worth it. Dearborn is one of the nine districts highlighted in the program.

“We had a new program starting in the fall of 2009 (district-wide all day kindergarten), and we felt that this was a good opportunity to get the word out,” Mustonen said.

“We felt the cost of the program was reasonable for what we received, and if we attracted three new students, the cost was covered. Our district did have a 350-student increase this year. We have no way of knowing how many of those students, if any, are a result of the program, but you never know. The show did get very good ratings the night it aired.”

The Lincoln school district has 4,764 students enrolled this year, a loss of 27 students from the previous year.

Lincoln parent Scott Wright said he was surprised to hear the district paid for its spot.

“I’ve heard a lot of people talking about it,” said Wright, the parent of two students in the district. “I haven’t heard anyone mention that the district paid for it. It seems like there should be some sort of disclaimer or something.”

The banner ad on Lincoln’s website links directly to the Best Schools in Michigan website and does not contain a disclaimer.

The Best Schools in Michigan website has basic facts about each district, features on various programs, pictures of happy students, a map and enrollment forms. It does not have a disclaimer saying districts paid to be on the site.

“I'm not sure if they have a disclaimer or not,” Cleary said. “Our board of education was fully aware of this, and we actually held a viewing of the program during a community forum.”

Mustonen said his district didn’t have a problem paying for the mention.

“We did pay to be part of the show. The cost was $25,000,” he said. “We were upfront with our staff and community and explained that we were paying to be on the program.”

Margolis said even if Ann Arbor’s marketing budget had room for a $25,000 payment, she’d still have qualms about it because of the lack of a disclaimer.

“I certainly believe that Ann Arbor is one of the best school district in Michigan,” she said. “I’m not criticizing school districts that spent money to do it. But with the state of school funding today, its tough for me to justify it.

“It’s not on our radar. I just felt it was disengious to call these the best schools in Michigan and not note it was because they paid for it.”

David Jesse covers K-12 education for He can be reached at or at 734-623-2534.



Sat, Feb 6, 2010 : 1:12 p.m.

Sheesh, and I even put in 'I believe', because I wasn't sure. My bad. It looks like Mr Hoover may have been the last. OK? But, while researching this minor point, I found out that Alan Shepard was schooled in a one room school house. As was, fascinatingly, Jimmy Wales, the co-founder of Wikipedia. Bloviate: to orate verbosely or windily. Maybe you should read your dictionary before using a word. Succinctly put, I think there is a growing case to be made for less government in public education. I'd better stop here before I'm accused of being verbose, obtuse, or vacuous.


Sat, Feb 6, 2010 : 12:29 p.m.

I am having difficulty believing anything from Lincoln schools. It is suppose to be a school of choice and yet my daughter proved that she lived in the district with her mortgage and Lincoln has refused to admit her children because her address is not on the back of her license. (It is suppressed because of domestic violence issues.) Reluctantly, she changed it and Lincoln has not admitted them. School of choice? Yes, Lincoln chooses to DECEIVE.


Fri, Feb 5, 2010 : 9:57 p.m.

sbbuilder, i don't know what your point is about private education, Eisenhower, and the one room schoolhouse, but maybe you should read about Eisenhower's PUBLIC grade school education before you bloviate on an issue...

Dave N

Fri, Feb 5, 2010 : 8:50 p.m.

Monica, I think it's simple. If you make the claim of "best", there have to be one or more declared measures of quality, and you have to be at or near the top of an unbaised ranking. If you're not, you can't claim that you are. Making the claim is a deliberate lie. There are probably a couple of dozen measures I'd accept - specific choice depends on what the declared goals and priorities of the schools are. In this case, though, it's clear that there were NO measures of quality and NO specific comparisons whatsoever.


Fri, Feb 5, 2010 : 3:02 p.m.

There is no grey area here. No blurring of the lines. This shouldn't even be open for debate. Lying by omission, as others posters have noted. The rest is mamby pamby rationalisation, gymnastic creative justification. Proof? How about sitting in on the conversation in the advertising agency while they were koshing up this knuckle brained idea. "We need to generate some fast, easy money. How about the schools? They always seem to have some extra lying around. What if we offered them a buy-in to the inside track of school excellence? Yeah, that's cool. It's any easy feel good, and they get some publicity." Lincoln teacher: Sorry, it's Socialism, with a capital 'S'. What the founding fathers envisioned was that there are some things that individuals, and even small groups cannot provide for by themselves. A standing militia. Courts. Law enforcement. That kind of thing. But education has long been either private, or very localized. Only recently has education become the provenance of the government. E.g. I believe Eisenhower was the last president to be educated in a one room school house. There are many who would argue that the government has no business being in the business of education. As has been demonstrated countless times, there are many alternatives to public ed. But, as we currently have it, public ed IS socialist. Maybe that's not such a good thing after all.

Monica G

Fri, Feb 5, 2010 : 11:16 a.m.

People seem to be objecting most to the "best" label being applied to Lincoln. I agree with a previous commenter that, had the name of the TV show been different ("Up-and-Coming Schools,"for example), this would be a different story. On the other hand, people continue to focus exclusively on test scores as a measurement of quality because that's all they know about Lincoln and other area schools and they don't bother to dig deeper. Dave N, your comment,"In the absence of any evidence about the Lincoln schools being 'best,' claiming that distinction is a lie." What kind of "evidence" would you accept to allow Lincoln to claim that distinction? Except for the Lincoln parents and staff who have contributed, most people just keep hammering away at the point that Lincoln is clearly not a best school. The fact is, Lincoln has plenty of excellent programs. Test scores are low, but the music, theater and drama programs are competitive with other area schools. The high school science curriculum has received acclaim, and the district boasts unique programs (some highlighted in the TV special) that others districts don't have. I have lived in Ypsilanti for over 25 years, and I continue to be surprised and disappointed at the assumptions people make about Ypsilanti residents, schools and community safety without having any personal experience and rarely venturing east of Arborland. While I don't have a problem with honest questions about the ethics of presenting Lincoln as a best school without some sort of advertising disclaimer, pronouncements that turn into Lincoln-bashing aren't helpful to anyone. One more thing: I'd be interested in knowing what other districts' marketing budgets are. I'm guessing Lincoln's $30,000 is a drop in the bucket.

Dave N

Fri, Feb 5, 2010 : 9 a.m.

I was appalled by the story, and am appalled by some of the comments here either supporting or excusing the Lincoln schools' action. Have we come so far away from any clear sense of right and wrong in society that we can't label this action clearly for what it was? It was intentionally misleading. It was deceitful. It was a lie. It was wrong. The issue is not about the waste of money - the issue is honesty. In the absence of any evidence about the Lincoln schools being "best", claiming that distinction is a lie. Those responsible should publicly apologize, and perhaps be fired.

Ed U Cator

Fri, Feb 5, 2010 : 2:27 a.m.

If Lincoln wanted to spend money wisely they would've conducted a thoroughand professional and exhaustive search for the most qualified Superintendant available when the position came open previously.. instaed of hiring an unproven amatuer. In her Positions as Superintendent and Principal Cleary has a proven record of duplicity and intimidation and has yet to learn the difference between being a Boss and a true Leader.. with so much need in the district.. supplies, maitenance, fixing existing technology. spending $25.000 on at best a misleading presentation is irresponsible.. Investing in a top notch Superintendent with true Leadership skills.. who would rescue a poisoned organizational culture would be money well spent.

Ed U Cator

Fri, Feb 5, 2010 : 2:14 a.m.

If Lincoln schools wanted to really spend money wisely it would have conducted a thorough, professional and exhaustive search for the best Superintendent available when the position came open.To settle for an inexperienced amatuer has cost the district dearly. This Superintendent has a proven record of duplicity and dishonesty, not only as Superintendent but as a Principal. In her years with Lincoln Cleary has continuously poisoned a once strong organizational culture through manipulation and intimidation and has yet to learn the vast difference between being a Boss.. and being a real Leader..programs continue to be cut while waste is rampant.. buildings need care.. but $25,000 is spent on at best, a gross misrepresentation..Lincoln still has the potential to be a great District..But only with topnotch Professional Leadership.. That would be money well spent!


Fri, Feb 5, 2010 : 12:05 a.m.

If Lincoln is racist than I have no clue what Saline and Dexter would be.*** correction


Fri, Feb 5, 2010 : 12:02 a.m.

Racist? That's why we had a African athletic director for over 30 years. We have two African American basketball coaches, has two African American women as assistant principles and had a African American high school principle. An African American superintendent 4 years ago. A great teacher,coach and counselor who was also African American. If Lincoln is racist than I have no clue what Saline and Dexter would be.


Thu, Feb 4, 2010 : 11:57 p.m.

It's strange to hear union members talking about the need for "competition".


Thu, Feb 4, 2010 : 11:27 p.m.

I went to private schools for 13 years (K-12)...where 95% of the students went to 4 year universities, taught in a different state for 4 years in public high school, and now work in Lincoln School district. I can honestly say from my own experience that is doesn't matter where you go to school... what matters is what is in the home. We have top kids at Lincoln who go to top univerisities every year. We also have kids who drop out... the difference is the home values. The top kids come from parents who value education and stress the importance of it. So the difference between Lincoln, Saline, Ann Arbor, etc is the socioeconomic make- up. When you have a great majority of parents who come from higher socioeconomical backgrounds (aka college graduates), of course their test scores are going to be higher... the parents are more educated and therefore expect that from their kids. What happens then is that schools who have a diverse popluation get labeled as being "bad" because test scores are lower... but we are not testing the same kids. You have to look at ALL factors when comparing school districts- not just blame the school because I can tell you that our top kids can compete anyday with top kids from the neighboring school districts. Also, if Lincoln is so bad... why are they the 3rd largest school district in Washtenaw County behind Ann Arbor and Saline? They must being doing something right. What I can also say is that not only am I am employee of Lincoln, I am a resident, and have a child who attends Lincoln Schools. I will be the first to say that if I wasn't happy with his education he was receiving at Lincoln, I would pull him in a heartbeat and put him in private (NOT charter or school of choice) schools... but I have been very pleased with his education and have no intention of sending him to private schools. Also, in my opinion, school of choice and charter schools have ruined Michigan public schools. In the state I came from... neither existed. There was pride in your school district. School districts were not pitted against each other to compete for students. There wasn't "good" and "bad" districts... you went to school where you lived and took pride in your school district. I don't blame Lincoln for "advertising" their school... I blame WXYZ for not putting a disclaimer on their "advertisement". In Michigan, because of their stupid school of choice, unfortunately, school districts have to fight for every kid they can get so they can fund their school. I also have major issues with always putting stories up that just fuel controversy. For example, their headline on Ann Arbor's poorest school getting the least amount of funding. When if you read the whole article... one of their other "poor" schools was high on the list of funding. Now this story... the WXYZ show ran in the fall... what? is it a slow news day at that you ran this story or are you that slow in getting your information?? This was discussed in public at a board meeting way before it ran. They put these stories up just to get people fired up. They are no better than the National Enquirer...


Thu, Feb 4, 2010 : 10:29 p.m.

I agree wholeheartedly with "Lincoln Teacher" about the seemingly intractable Michigan school funding formula inequality. It is indeed outrageous. Now there's a story, and an issue, that might be worthy of our $25,000.00. But the Ann writer did us all a little favor and exposed a little dishonesty. He certainly is not the one with a chip on his shoulder.


Thu, Feb 4, 2010 : 9:36 p.m.

Schools of choice and dwindling budgets have created competition in education. Competition in the marketplace requires that competitors take steps to distinguish themselves from the rest of the field. We have all received print ads from different school districts and viewed billboards on the roads and in the malls telling us why a certain school district is better than another. The need to spend money on advertising is the resulting evil of this new marketplace. We are nave if we think that Lincoln is the only district spending money marketing itself. Competition can be good for all of us, but let us not forget that our schools are not on an even playing field, and this is the real issue. Desperate times like these sometimes lead to desperate measures. Instead of being outraged about this expenditure, the taxpayers in Lincoln, and in EVERY other UNDER funded district in the state should be incensed that in this state, a student in Ann Arbor (and similar communities) is worth more than a student in Lincoln (or Milan or Manchester). Significantly so. More than ten years ago the school funding formula was changed in order to equalize funding. The scheme was to reduce reliance on local property taxes and shift the funding burden to the sales tax. More than ten years down the road, and the difference between the haves and the have-nots is still glaringly distinct. You see, districts like Ann Arbor were awarded a higher beginning foundation grant because they had demonstrated greater local effort. Local effort meant that they had a higher property tax base. Sounds fair? You get what you pay for? Remember that it was not just Ann Arbor residents who frequented and supported the Ann Arbor area businesses that made up a good portion of that tax base. It was all of us. Despite the promise of equal educational opportunity for all of Michigans children, we still have a system that is far from equal. Where is the outrage about that?! What borders on the line morally and ethically is that somehow people have convinced themselves that it is perfectly okay to maintain a system that says a child of privilege is worth more than a child who is not. What borders on the line morally and ethically is that a system that keeps the poor in poverty by not offering them truly equal educational opportunities is not exposed by news agencies and railed against by ALL citizens. What borders on the line morally and ethically is the lengths to which some will go to sell a story, to create discord and to disparage another. I offer two suggestions: Mr. Jesse: Use your impressive investigative skills to shine a light on the disparities in school funding across this state. (But first remove that chip from your shoulder.) Readers: Educate yourselves about these disparities, become outraged about THAT and speak up.


Thu, Feb 4, 2010 : 9:13 p.m.

I was one of those Lincoln parents watching the WXYZ "news special," and I was absolutely stunned that a school with such abysmal test scores would be characterized as one of the "best schools in Michigan." Sorry, but calling this fiasco "creative advertising" is just pathetically dishonest spin. Read the Lincoln press release. We have a school board president without even a Bachelor's Degree, in over her head, and apparently unable to anticipate the damage that this kind of nonsense does to our already precarious reputation. Sorry to be so harsh, but it's about time for just a little more professionalism from our school board and superintendent.


Thu, Feb 4, 2010 : 9:01 p.m.

As a high school student attending Lincoln, i can say that Lincoln isn't by any means one of THE best schools in Michigan. And i must admit,i am surprised about this. I mean the rep Lincoln usually carry's around is our varsity football team and school budget, but thats mostly us talking about Lincoln because i think deep down we just like to hate our high school. But i'm trailing off like i always do, anyhoo Lincoln needs the spotlight regardless, new textbooks would be superb oh and some new teachers would be nice too.


Thu, Feb 4, 2010 : 8:57 p.m.

braggslaw, what makes the mea ads "immoral, unethical, and improper", or do you just hate teacher unions? maybe you hate all unions?

mom of 2

Thu, Feb 4, 2010 : 8:54 p.m.

Were you at any of the meetings? Until now, it was always implied that we earned that honor. She mislead us.


Thu, Feb 4, 2010 : 8:51 p.m.

I have no problem with the school district using this show as P.R., but I just watched it again, and there is NO DISCLAIMER saying this is a paid advertisement, which is what this show was. I hold WXYZ as or more responsible for this issue, as they made it seem this was a "news show", along with using their the next day for a live webchat. Naturally, viewers would be confused at best by this. And to those charter school advocates...when your charter schools have to serve the SAME population of students as the public schools, disabilities, special needs, behavioral issues, etc...then come talk to me about test scores and what charter schools do better...just sayin'


Thu, Feb 4, 2010 : 8:49 p.m.

I have 2 kids that go to Lincoln schools.. I know the budget issues they are having..THe administration is making it a point to tell all teaching staff and genral staff to watch the spending.. I was talking with a teacher the other day and she said that thier funding was being cut.. the high school choir lost it's pianist.. due to budget cuts. What a slap in the face to have a check cut for this False commerical. Now lets talk about the morality of it, Let us for one minute make belive that we are trying to raise responsable adults. Ones that know that lying gets you no-where. How do explain to a child that this is ok.. when our teachers and school administraters should be leading by example.. Lincoln is by FAR the one of the best schools in Michigan.. As matter of fact if I recall correctlly.. they have some of the lowest test scores in the state. Shame on Lincoln School board!!!!


Thu, Feb 4, 2010 : 7:09 p.m.

Just what we need, teachers "outraged" by the improper public response to this waste of money. Ok we should grin and bear it? Taxpayers have every right to be outraged. We all know it is immoral, unethical and improper just like the the MEA radio commercials for the teachers unions.

Jed I Knight

Thu, Feb 4, 2010 : 7:06 p.m.

I thought only suckers paid to be named the 'Who's Who' list. I fully support marketing. I saw the infomercial, though when I watched it I thought it was an earned award vs. an infomercial. You know in print ads, they have to note: Special Advertising Section and on TV have disclaimers The following is a paid commercial announcement and not the result of merit or earned honors. Then I was impressed and thought great work Lincoln! Now, I realize they were deceptive and advertising. Too bad, I now think less of the folks running the administration. If you think differently, you are drinking the Kool-aid


Thu, Feb 4, 2010 : 6:22 p.m.

Instead of complaining about this, why don't more people complain to Lansing that education cuts are hurting our kids. I'm a Lincoln parent and a teacher for a 'rich' district in Monroe and I support the board for this move. Unless you're involved in the business aspect of education, parents and tax payers have no room to talk. Districts are doing everything they can to survive and Lincoln used money already allocated for marketing. No school district is perfect. But I don't think we need to sit here and pick at everything wrong in every district, now is the time for the people of MI to come to together and save our schools. If you have issues, stop complaining and you run for school board. See if you can do any better. I voted for the Lincoln board and I support them. I appreciate them for trying to highlight the positive things about our district.


Thu, Feb 4, 2010 : 5:16 p.m.

My 3 children graduated from LHS and graduated from top universities. They were well prepared for their undergrad and graduate studies thanks to the guidance of Lincoln's superior teaching staff (K-12). Lincoln Schools have every right to advertise and market their outstanding programs, but buying a title sends the wrong message to all stakeholders. I saw the program and wondered how the honor was earned. Now that I know, I am embarrassed for the fine people who made this very unfortunate choice. This negative publicity will negate much of the good that was intended. The truth is always the best path.


Thu, Feb 4, 2010 : 5:13 p.m.

Ah, my tax dollars at work again. Outrageous! Just tends to tell me that if they can spend $25000 on items like this they definitely don't need my vote for a mileage increase anytime in the future and certainly won't get it! Not sure how you can sit there and talk about cutting necessary programs (If you remember the busing fiasco not too long ago), then turn around and spend that kind of money on advertising. This is definitely not an administration that understands their business (educating our youth), or frankly really cares, if you can make a decision like this where every penny counts!


Thu, Feb 4, 2010 : 5:13 p.m.

Give Lynn and the board credit for putting the children first. Call it what you will but until you meet the 9 out of 10 dentist who recommend, your Malibu is voted the best mid-size car (by who), coffee drinkers agree that Maxwell house, or choosy mothers choose Jiff. Get a life people and let's tackle and discuss teenage pregnancy, underage drinking and obese adolescents.


Thu, Feb 4, 2010 : 5:04 p.m.

This type of expenditure is common in all areas - do you really think that "top doctors" and "top hospitals" and "top realtors" are rated on performance? They pay a hefty fee to the sponsoring organization (yes, even medical organizations), and they're in. As it has been pointed out in other comments, we all need to wonder why it is that people may make a decision on a school district (or doctor, hospital or realtor) based on claims on a website advertisement.

sas parent

Thu, Feb 4, 2010 : 4:57 p.m.

Lincoln Schools--one of the best in Michigan?? What a joke. If I were a Lincoln parent, I'd be OUTRAGED that the district wasted $ on something that is so ridiculous to state. They should have used that money to invest in academics so the school EARNS the right to be one of the best in Michigan. Unbelievable.


Thu, Feb 4, 2010 : 4:39 p.m.

Mick52: "The worst performing school district in the state could have paid up and received this designation." If you look at the website and see the 9 districts there, it appears that a number of them did.

scooter dog

Thu, Feb 4, 2010 : 4:21 p.m.

I think if I were a resident of the lincoln schools,I would be head first into a RECALL of all parties involved in this FARCE.A total waste of taxpayers money.Who cares if your the best school.Is mr Bobb available?


Thu, Feb 4, 2010 : 4:05 p.m.

"And, by promoting these achievements, help them spread like wildfire to schools around the country." That is a "sentence" from the press release. For all Lincoln grads from the 60s, G.Fred Libbey would roll over in his grave. This just keeps getting worse!


Thu, Feb 4, 2010 : 3:52 p.m.

As a parent of two Lincoln students, I am disgusted. Wouldn't the money have been better spent on classroom supplies and text books. This is the wrong message to send to our children. What about values and honesty? And pride, where is the Lincoln Pride now?

Jon Saalberg

Thu, Feb 4, 2010 : 2:50 p.m.

Will Lincoln students also be able to buy diplomas? College admissions essays? What else is available for sale? This is the height of hypocrisy - the head of a school district, which theoretically teaches children to work hard and do their best, eschews such, and buys its "best in MI" recognition. Very disappointing.


Thu, Feb 4, 2010 : 2:50 p.m.

I am astonished that so many responders are ok with this. Apparently Lincoln does not have the budget issues other schools are experiencing. To be on a list titled "Top School District in Michigan," by paying $25k is grossly misleading. Is the school trying to lure students using this designation? Anyone who hears this is going to assume their were evaluations done to determine the "best" schools. The worst performing school district in the state could have paid up and received this designation. If I lived in the Lincoln district I would be calling for the firing of anyone who approved this.

David Jesse

Thu, Feb 4, 2010 : 2:47 p.m.

Here's the original press release on Lincoln's Web site about the television show:


Thu, Feb 4, 2010 : 2:41 p.m.

They sure did remove that banner! Looks like damage control is in effect. Next time you need my vote to raise my taxes for the district, don't knock on my door, rather, knock on WXYZ's.


Thu, Feb 4, 2010 : 2:39 p.m.

Bravo to the firms sales/marketing people that came up with this idea in the first place. There is only one small problem. People DO react to advertising, that's why companies do it. It works. But in this case it may or may not be beneficial to the student. Quote: "Anyone who honestly believes that test scores are the best way to measure a school's ability to educate are severely misinformed." If test scores are NOT a good way to measure a schools ability to educate, then why do we even bother doing them. I could be wrong, but I think we do them to indicate (even at a rudimentary level) where students are and to track basic progress programs make or lose. What other methods are there for detecting and modifying the educational progress? All we have to do is attract three-and-a-half students to earn back the $25,000 wed spend, So says, Tecumseh Public Schools Board President Debbie Johnson-Berges. Well from a business standpoint this seems like a pretty decent investment. All any school district needs to do is snatch 3.5 kids from a neighboring district and they make back "their" money. And any additional kids they hook are just pure gravy. I would not have any issue with this IF it could be determined that the students were actually better educated in this new district. Whats really sad is the fact that efforts are spent either defending or attacking the merit of this "advertising campaign" rather than focusing on increasing a districts ability to educate.


Thu, Feb 4, 2010 : 2:35 p.m.

Seems I spoke to soon, I thought it was gone after I reloaded the page 8 times and it never came up. Apparently eleven was the charm...


Thu, Feb 4, 2010 : 2:30 p.m.

Hmmmmm... They are so proud of it that they have already removed that banner from their home page.

mom of 2

Thu, Feb 4, 2010 : 2:21 p.m.

This whole situation is sad. I attended the forum to celebrate "being chosen". Lynn Cleary handed out bags of popcorn to my children. It was never mentioned that MY TAX DOLLARS paid for this so-called recognition. What a horrible thing to do to our district. The teachers in my childrens' school are appreciated and respected. Do you want to know why? Is it not because they paid for it. Our teachers are amazing and dedicated - that is why! I feel bad for the embarrassment this will bring to our teachers. Two examples as to how Ms. Cleary operates in the same week. She mislead the elementary schools about moving students around and seems she also mislead the entire district about this so-called award. Shame on you Ms. Cleary.


Thu, Feb 4, 2010 : 2:13 p.m.

While I think Lincoln does have much to be proud of, I think this does have an unethical air to it. I think the real culprit though is WXYZ, who promoted this show, and never disclosed that they were being paid for it. They promoted it as a news item. That stinks.


Thu, Feb 4, 2010 : 1:56 p.m.

Getting to the heart of the issue, it's a shame that the school of choice and school funding systems put PUBLIC schools in a position where they have to compete with each other. The system is severly broken. While I agree that parents should have educational options for their kids I do not like the school of choice program because it has gone way beyond it's original intent and really hurts districts that are neighbors to districts that have the perception of being better. The state should control this program better so that it promotes improvement w/o punishing a district.


Thu, Feb 4, 2010 : 1:24 p.m.

Anyone who honestly believes that test scores are the best way to measure a school's ability to educate are severely misinformed. Test scores are more representative of a districts socio-economic factors than eduactional system. It's a proven fact.


Thu, Feb 4, 2010 : 1:22 p.m.

Prove to me this infomercial increased student enrollment. If that's true, then I guess I don't need to vote for the bond extension they want, with all those new students and their little dollars attached to them. I don't care about the advertising. I care about then said one thing and it turns out it was another. It was not an award for a job well done. Those programs deserve attention and are good things. But the attention was produced because they paid for it, not because they received some sort of award or accolade for them.


Thu, Feb 4, 2010 : 1:22 p.m.

Test scores should be how parents can make a sound decision on the best school for their children because obviously the title BEST has lost its meaning. Perhaps DPS could fork out $25k and also be one of the BEST school districts in Michigan!

David Jesse

Thu, Feb 4, 2010 : 1:15 p.m.

FYi - Tecumseh schools has approved doing the same:

Monica G

Thu, Feb 4, 2010 : 12:59 p.m.

As I mentioned above, if you decide to use test scores as your only standard for determining school quality, the more positive aspects of a school district can get lost. I agree that test scores show something about what a school is doing right; they just don't show the whole story. It's far too easy for high-performing districts to point to their high test scores to prove their superiority and not acknowledge the challenges of lower income districts with higher diversity. Now I'll get philosophical: What does "best" really mean?


Thu, Feb 4, 2010 : 12:51 p.m.

"I feel like this is a good thing for Lincoln. Lincoln never gets represented well especially in The Ann Arbor News. This ad already helped Lincoln with increased enrollment." Yes, perhaps a good thing for Lincoln, but at what cost? If we look at past test scores as an indication of future educational value, then Lincolns gain becomes the new students potential loss. So in that context, by Lincoln spending money to "lure" away students from other schools, they could be hurting those that would switch because the new students would have a greater chance to get an inferior education based on past test scores.


Thu, Feb 4, 2010 : 12:30 p.m.

We all know they had to pay someone to say this because student test scores in the Lincoln School District show that they are one of the three poorest performing schools in Washtenaw County year after year.


Thu, Feb 4, 2010 : 12:29 p.m.

This is not even about whether or not it's a good use of taxpayers' money to spend 25K on 'advertising', or whether or not you'll recoup your investment. It's about being honest versus being dishonest. Lincoln schools have unfortunately chosen the latter.


Thu, Feb 4, 2010 : 12:26 p.m.

sell it as you wish... to say that you have been placed on a list of the "best" of anything should be an achievement... NOT a purchase! Every district advertises... duh. Not every district feels the need to falsely advertise itself to whoever listens. If they simply would have said something like schools on the rise, or some other loosely interpreted phrase, this article would not deserve printing. The problem I have is with the use of the term best. It is misleading and when our local schools feel the need to mislead us when advertising, it goes only to show just how desperate they really are for the additional revenue. If they could trick more of the families and kids to feel satisfied with the education, they could cut the advertising budget in half.


Thu, Feb 4, 2010 : 12:07 p.m.

I am both a teacher and a parent in the Lincoln community, and I am NOT outraged. I am very, very concerned with how our district spends every nickle and dime. This was a marketing expenditure which I do believe will be a good investment because I also believe our having a chance to showcase ourselves will likely end up with at least a few new students. In other words, I believe that this will be a good investment for Lincoln schools. People make investments all the time. Businesses make investments all the time. Businesses spend money on marketing all the time. Why are companies spending millions (I believe it is near 30 million this year) for a 30 second ad during the Super Bowl? Wow, if they instead gave that money to schools, that would be a fantastic investment in the education of our future leaders. By the way, has the Ann Arbor Public Schools EVER spent any money for any kind of marketing or advertising on anything? If so, please re-examine the hypocrisy here. While I respect the right of everyone to have their own opinion, though, I wish folks would check their hypocrisy and jealousy at the door. Especially since your school district also had the opportunity to "buy" the "honor" of being named one of Michigan's "Best Schools". This was NOT a waste, it was simple marketing.


Thu, Feb 4, 2010 : 11:59 a.m.

As a tax payer in the district. Im glad to see where my tax money is going. Instead of paying a measly $25000.00 to be one of Michigans Best School Districts. They should pay me 1 million and I will declair them the best school on earth. Am I to assume they will not beg for more money with somekind of tax increase this year......Its obvious they have more money that they know what to do with. The Lincoln school district is a big joke...But Im not Laughing.


Thu, Feb 4, 2010 : 11:55 a.m.

I think it's reasonable to debate the ethics of calling the TV show "Best Schools..." and not overtly disclosing it was a paid advertisement. I can see both sides of this. However, I strongly disagree with the assertion that Lincoln shouldn't spend money to advertise or market itself as a good district with good programs. The bottom line is that advertising works -- that's why businesses (both for-profit and non-profit) do it. In this respect, Lincoln is like a business; it's competing with other districts for customers (students). If Lincoln adds students, the district gets more funding, and therefore can continue to improve the quality of education for everyone. For the advertising expense to be a good use of hard-earned taxpayer money, Lincoln needs to gain more in revenue (funding) than it costs them to advertise. With a district like Lincoln, which I think has actually improved a lot in recent years, advertising/marketing makes even more business sense because I think the perception of Lincoln is worse than the reality. So to assert that Lincoln shouldn't spend money on advertising just doesn't make sense. Just my opinion.


Thu, Feb 4, 2010 : 11:41 a.m.

I feel like this is a good thing for Lincoln. Lincoln never gets represented well especially in The Ann Arbor News. This ad already helped Lincoln with increased enrollment. Look at the basketball team, with transfers from Huron and Belleville. Lincoln is not the greatest school but its not the worst either. I know plenty of people that had worst high school experiences than people from Lincoln had. This was a good marketing plan. Every ad has fibs, so why blame Lincoln? Lincoln did what it had to do and finally got positive comments about the school.

Monica G

Thu, Feb 4, 2010 : 11:27 a.m.

I understand the concern that there was no disclosure that school districts paid to appear on the show, but the fact that districts pay for marketing should surprise no one. I have seen several area districts promoting themselves through ads in local publications, and even in Briarwood Mall. While Ann Arbor's director of communications may have felt purchasing TV airtime "bordered on the line morally and ethically" because of the lack of disclosure, I'm sure she wouldn't deny that Ann Arbor spends money to promote their schools. Any business needs to market themselves in order to prosper; thinking schools shouldn't do so in these difficult economic times is naive. By the way, I'm the parent of a Lincoln High School senior who is near the top of her class and has been accepted at several selective colleges. You can get a quality education at Lincoln; you just need to be assertive and advocate for what is best for your child. Lincoln is a diverse district in terms of parent income and education levels and race. It's not perfect but students can get what they need there--and parents can afford to buy homes there, unlike other, more expensive districts with less diversity. When people just look at test scores and listen to a few select voices when making their choice of a school district, some of the good things about a district like Lincoln can get lost. I'm happy some of those positive things about Lincoln came out, but I also have my misgivings about the lack of disclosure.


Thu, Feb 4, 2010 : 11:14 a.m.

Ethics and morality have sure gone down the tubes in this generation. AS SEEN ON TV!!!!


Thu, Feb 4, 2010 : 11:04 a.m.

"bordered?? on the line morally and ethically"??? The entire program reeks of deceit. Another hit on the fabric of culture from the crowd that believes that the appearance of substance is actually substance.

Old Salt

Thu, Feb 4, 2010 : 10:52 a.m.

My family owns a retail business in the Ann Arbor area, where do we send our money to be recognized as one of the best in Michigan. It is a deductable expense and probably would increase our business by thousands of dollars.


Thu, Feb 4, 2010 : 10:52 a.m.

"Honest Abe" would be turning over in his grave right now.


Thu, Feb 4, 2010 : 10:39 a.m.

Some complain about the dollars spent. I am on the fence. But this was presented to parents as if it was an award. It was not. It was an paid advertisement. I have nothing against advertising, but I have to admit, this "omitting little itty-bitty facts" is very politician-like.


Thu, Feb 4, 2010 : 10:18 a.m.

@Jean...I am one of the most positive people you will ever meet and do not appreciate you saying that I am negative and like to gripe about everything. Maybe the issue is that you could care less where your hard earned taxpayer money goes! Or, perhaps you feel we have no right to "gripe" about the district lying by omission by making us think Lincoln had earned this title? By the way, I'm at work right now earning the money to pay for Lincoln's next great lie!


Thu, Feb 4, 2010 : 10:16 a.m.

Thank you Jean for supporting my opinion of Lincoln schools... corrupt and mismanaged! My student athlete left the district because all of her older friends told her how much they wish they could leave. We are very happy in a nearby district and think that our district tax dollars should have gone to something positive instead. Obviously this forum represents a lot of negative reaction to this advertising ploy and most likely shows how foolish this decision was. Our friends who teach there agree with me on the move and I bet they would rather have some of that money help in the academics of those that are there now!!


Thu, Feb 4, 2010 : 10:04 a.m.

Cash, I wish that Lincoln had the same morals and values when I attended. I wish it were just my opinion, but it's NOT. I, along with other Alumni, from my era, have all said the same thing. Jean, I have attended and participated in School Board meetings. I've spent several Mondays there, so do NOT point your finger at everyone. I agree that my elementary education was fair, but Jr. High and High School, were horrific. The comparison to my peers post High School was embarassing. Their institutions prepared them for higher learning. Lincoln could care less. I feel sorry for those that buy into the false advertisement.


Thu, Feb 4, 2010 : 9:54 a.m.

How can you be ashamed that a school district is promoting its strong points???? Believe it or not, most schools (including Lincoln) do have good points. Kids do graduate and do well after high school. True, not everyone does... but there are other factors that contribute to that aside from the school. Seems like the only people that comment on these issues are the negative ones who like to gripe about everything. The positive folks are too busy living a life to take the time to criticize online. I had the morning off... guess I'll work more to avoid getting caught up in so much negativity.


Thu, Feb 4, 2010 : 9:47 a.m.

Advertising is problem with that. False advertising is something else again. Had this ad run stating that Lincoln is a great school and here's what they do....fine. But the ads ran as though the school had been compared to other schools and WON a high ranking, which is false advertising. The board approval doesn't make it right. In fact,for me, it makes it even worse. You see, I am a proud Lincoln grad from the 60s and I was taught right from wrong back then by a group of dedicated teachers and student teachers and I'm forever thankful for that opportunity. We were taught back then that if something is wrong, and the whole class were to go along with it, it is our individual responsibility to speak up! So, I'm speaking up. This is wrong. And I am ashamed.


Thu, Feb 4, 2010 : 9:46 a.m.

How many of you have ever attended a school board meeting???? You like to sit at your computers and complain but do you take an active role in the Lincoln school district? Have you run for a board seat? Boards do not make decisions hastily... they study issues before they make decisions. They have to look at the overhealth of their budget and enrollment, and do what they think will bring students to the district. Not sure you understand how competitive schools of choice is. Sure, Ann Arbor didn't go this route because, as of yet, they are NOT a school of choice so they don't accept students from other schools in the county. But they are considering becoming a school of choice because they too need to increase student population. Maybe you should learn a little more about how schools are funded, the effect of labor unions on school budgets, and other financial information before you start being so critical.


Thu, Feb 4, 2010 : 9:35 a.m.

My child attends a school in the district and as a taxpayer, I am OUTRAGED that $25k was spent for a title and a spot on a TV show. I had no idea that this was paid for out of my hard earned money. If the advertising budget isn't used each year, how about purchasing supplies for the classrooms? Not only do I pay my taxes that are supposed to go to the district, I also purchase supplies so my child's teacher doesn't have to use his/her salary to buy them. Couldn't that money have gone to one/some other programs that just got cut because of "budget contraints"? I thought it sounded fishy when the parents were sent home a notice to watch the show because, although Lincoln is good at the elementary level, once the students reach college, they are ill-prepared to tackle the challenges of college. Shame on every person that approved this fake title!

Denise J. Murray

Thu, Feb 4, 2010 : 9:29 a.m.

When it comes to your child's education, I hope decisions are made with a little more research than catching a TV ad.


Thu, Feb 4, 2010 : 9:26 a.m.

How can this be called "immoral and desperate"? Lincoln was showing their strong points and good programs. They voted on this in a public forum. They did not lie about anything. Schools have become much more like businesses than they have in the past. They have to market their strengths. And this is exactly what Lincoln did. I'm not laughing at them--I'm thinking it was a smart move. They do have programs to be proud of.


Thu, Feb 4, 2010 : 9:24 a.m.

If I recall, there were 3 schools featured per episode of that show. $25,000*3 + the normal advertisers fees. Not a bad gig for Laz and that company.

Somewhat Concerned

Thu, Feb 4, 2010 : 9:16 a.m.

I don't want my children taught in a school district with Lincoln's morals or Lincoln's desperation. Now, they're a laughing stock. Whoever decided this should lose their job (unless Lincoln really is that immoral and desperate).

Sherry Knight

Thu, Feb 4, 2010 : 9:12 a.m.

It's a way for a PR company and a television station to make relatively easy money. Responsible parents will look at test scores, educational programming, the level of individualized attention to students, graduation rates, percentage of students going on to college (and which universities they attend), environment and culture within the schools, efforts to prepare students to succeed in a global economy, how much parents are welcomed as partners in their children's education...


Thu, Feb 4, 2010 : 9:08 a.m.

This is similar to the 'best steakhouses' ads you see in airplane magazines. But while I don't begrudge a steakhouse marketing itself, I'd rather our schools traffic in truth, not fiction. This may be good marketing for Lincoln, but it's not ethical marketing.


Thu, Feb 4, 2010 : 8:51 a.m.

Now let's think about this. State funding for schools is based on student population. With the state of the economy as it is in Michigan, student populations are dwindling. With schools of choice as an option, schools need to attract students to increase their revenues. I think it's a very smart marketing tool. There is nothing phony about it. The board voted on the issue in a public forum. The show highlights all the good things about a school district which will attract students. Most school districts have good programs to offer and this is just making them publicly known. The amount of people reached during the viewing of this show is far greater than a single website produced by the school, newspaper ads, radio ads, etc. It was a smart move to go this route.


Thu, Feb 4, 2010 : 8:42 a.m.

>> s easy as it is to create a website, couldn't they have created a free site and link that says how great they think they are? It's not the way you say, it's how you get people to see it. Just because you create a website doesn't mean anyone is going to go to it. TV/Radio/Print is still the best bet. They should have disclosed that this was a pay-to-play. Again, I hope they can truly qualify the benefit. But with this latest disclosure, it's even more uphill than before.


Thu, Feb 4, 2010 : 8:33 a.m.

Seems like that money was nothing more than a bribe for good publicity. As easy as it is to create a website, couldn't they have created a free site and link that says how great they think they are? Maybe we're # 1 dot com?? If I was a lot smarter, I would have come up with this idea myself. If you have to tell people how great you are... you aren't!


Thu, Feb 4, 2010 : 8:27 a.m.

One more thought...I remember my father taught me...You have to earn your good reputation, NOT buy it!


Thu, Feb 4, 2010 : 8:21 a.m.

I guess if you can't earn it, buy it. Seriously parents and teachers should be outraged at this waste.


Thu, Feb 4, 2010 : 8:06 a.m.

The sad part of this story is that many good teachers and employees of the district will now have their good efforts tainted in public perception by the decision of the Superintendent and the Board of Education. I fully agree with the Communications Director of Ann Arbor, when the sole selection critera is $$$, it is less than ethical to make the claim as "one of the best".


Thu, Feb 4, 2010 : 8:03 a.m.

Advertising is only as good as the results. So my question, do you think Lincoln has any plan in place to measure just how many *new* students and their state $$ they are going to get from this expense? I'm on the fence about this. But I must admit, I wish this would have been made public during all the fanfare around this. My wife and I were scratching our heads as we watched this show. We thought to ourselves "sure these are good attributes", but how did it make the "top schools" that were featured. I guess now we know.