File this under “ongoing budget crisis.”
Also, file under “let’s get the date right.”
There are about 257 OKCPS-related campaigns currently seeking funding on DonorsChoose.org, a website designed specifically for classroom fundraising. Problem is, neither the official press release about the district’s desperate situation nor ensuing media coverage of said release were very helpful Tuesday in directing would-be philanthropists to the teachers and students in need.
The original press release (embedded below) lays out Oklahoma City Public Schools’ depressing budget cuts as follows:
- Fine arts budgets will be cut in half, for a total reduction of $195,000.
- Library media budgets will be eliminated outright, for a total reduction of $206,000.
- Elementary school budgets will be reduced $25 to $15 per student, for an estimated $260,000 reduction.
All of that is terrible news for OKCPS, its teachers and staff, and especially the students and their parents. It would be a little less terrible, however, if the links included in the official press release actually took interested parties to useful sites. Also, the situation might be a little less disheartening if the TV news stations who chose to copy/paste said press release actually bothered to check the links it included (or even included them at all).
KOCO published its copypasta first, about 47 minutes after the press release from OKCPS media relations director Mark Myers hit collective media mailboxes. A+ for timeliness, but they only included two of the three links from the release, oddly opting to eliminate the link that takes people to a volunteer sign-up page for the district.
News 9 wasn’t far behind with its digital mimeograph, and while the social-media leader managed to include all three links in its story, the links from the press release itself could’ve been better targeted.
The first link takes users to a page on The Foundation for Oklahoma City Public Schools’s website explaining its Partners in Action program. While this is informative for “companies, civic groups, nonprofits, faith-based organizations and individuals” wishing to get involved, the link on that page which ostensibly would lead such entities to an actionable destination instead takes visitors here, a 404 error page on the OKCPS.org site.
The second link from the release seeks to connect interested parties to DonorsChoose.org, but instead of directly linking to that nonprofit, it links again to The Foundation’s site explaining what Donors Choose is, and none of the four links on that page take users to the real heart of the matter (i.e. OKCPS teachers seeking funding for their crumbling educational worlds).
It shouldn’t be that hard. The OKCPS-specific Donors Choose list is linked above, and, just for kicks, it’s linked again here.
The final link from the release, as mentioned above, is for volunteer opportunities, and this one is actually helpful, well-targeted and operable.
Meatloaf famously sang “two outta three ain’t bad,” but one outta three is pretty dismal, especially considering the extent to which OKCPS needs emergency funding from all comers and the fact one would assume the district would do everything in its power to communicate that message and potential solutions to media and the public in a useful way.
Obviously, OKCPS can’t count on the larger media outlets to improve upon any broken links that emanate from their PR desk, and the coherence of its sprawling online network is likely of minimal concern when there are $661,000 worth of bigger fish to fry.
In the end, here’s hoping those able to support any of the 200+ OKCPS classroom campaigns find their way to the proper donate button.