Education Letter to the Editor

Should Schools Be Paying for National Spelling Bee?

April 07, 2008 1 min read

To the Editor:

Regarding the most recent developments in “Spelling Gate,” the furor over a National Spelling Bee participant’s disqualification because of a problem with her school’s submission of paperwork, as reported by the Associated Press and featured on your Web site, edweek.org, March 24, 2008:

According to public disclosures, Kenneth W. Lowe, the president and chief executive officer of E.W. Scripps Co., which is the National Spelling Bee’s sponsor, is personally being compensated $9.92 million per year. Richard A. Boehne, the company’s chief operating officer and executive vice president, receives $2.67 million. And the amounts being paid each year to the rest of the key executives are equally impressive.

Yet, this self-proclaimed “not-for-profit” spelling bee claims to have no choice but to charge schools $99 to participate in this event?

While the for-profit Scripps deserves credit for being the official parent organization of the spelling bee, it is undeniably in the company’s best interest to keep the bee as accessible and favorably publicized as possible.

The event’s director, Paige Kimball, has publicly set the annual cost of the Bee at $2.5 million.

Good Lord, the CEO alone could pay for this entire event, (without a cent from the schools or anyone else), and still clear more than $7 million a year!

After the publicity that Scripps has gotten lately, I bet he wishes he had.

Lorna Taylor

Olathe, Kan.

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A version of this article appeared in the April 09, 2008 edition of Education Week as Should Schools Be Paying For National Spelling Bee?