There they go again: The North Carolina Association of Educators (NCAE) continues to pump out misleading claims about Civitas and the state’s public school system.
Last month’s Civitas article Behind the DPI School Personnel Numbers analyzes changes in North Carolina school personnel over the past year using data provided by the North Carolina Department of Public Instruction.
Based on the factual errors, misrepresentations and faulty claims made in the February 8th NCAE Daily Political Briefing, however, you would have thought NCAE had never read the article. Let’s review a few of the most prominent claims.
NCAE: Civitas falsely claims 4,720 added state-supported teachers.
Behind the DPI School Personnel Numbers reviewed final school personnel data and reported “more than 4,600 additional state-funded employees”– 4,613 to be exact. Nowhere is it stated that these are all new jobs. Nowhere is it stated that these are all teaching positions.
An earlier article (Preliminary DPI Personnel Data Shows Increase in State-Supported Education Jobs), which included figures with only minor differences from the final numbers, reported “the number of state-supported public education personnel increased by 4,720 over the previous year” (emphasis added). Both Civitas reports – taken in context – make it clear that they are discussing state-supported or state-funded education employees, not state-supported teachers as reported in the NCAE claim.
The difference is not insignificant. To sum up: neither article makes the claim 4,720 new state-supported teachers were added in the last year.
NCAE: The General Assembly’s claim to have expanded teacher positions is false.
DPI school personnel data (not numbers “cooked up” by Civitas) show the overall number of teachers (state, federal and local) declined by 915 in FY 2011-12 compared to the prior year. However, when looking at the number of state-funded jobs, the number most directly impacted by policies of the General Assembly, it’s a different story. Because the state picked up funding for about 80 percent of the jobs previously funded through federal stimulus money – many of which were teacher jobs – the DPI data report the net number of state-funded teachers actually increased by 2,057. About 86 percent of all teachers’ jobs in North Carolina are now state-funded.
Furthermore, the budget bill also allotted an additional $62 million this year and $63 million next year to add 1,124 teaching positions for class size reduction in Grades 1 through 3.
NCAE’s claim ignores the findings of the DPI school personnel data which show that from 2011 to 2012 the number of state-funded teacher jobs increased from 78,963 to 81,020. It’s a fact no amount of NCAE criticism can erase.
NCAE claims the 2011-12 state budget adversely impacted the classroom and was the cause of massive job losses.
NCAE has spent the last six months howling about how budget cuts have impacted the classroom. DPI data reveal there were 4,840 fewer public school personnel than the previous year – a fact reported in both Civitas school personnel articles but conveniently ignored by NCAE. The data also show the loss of federal funding – not cuts to the state budget – as the major impetus for job losses. The expiration of federal stimulus money resulted in the loss of 7,420 federal jobs, and 2,033 local funded school employee positions. But because these facts don’t fit NCAE’s narrative, it avoids them.
How did job losses impact the classroom? Of the 4,840 education employees who lost jobs last year, about 19 percent were teachers. Non-certified personnel (e.g., teacher assistants, technicians, clerk typists, service workers, etc.), made up about 72 percent of all job losses last year. The loss of a job is a difficult event in anyone’s life, no matter what the position. However, accurate figures disprove NCAE’s claim.
NCAE criticizes lawmakers for taking any credit for expanding state teaching jobs that were and still are supported by federal funding. NCAE says the lawmakers’ assertions are “crafty” and “deceitful.”
This statement is as curious as it is absurd. NCAE says many of the newly state-funded jobs were saved with federal stimulus money and later with federal Edujobs money. True. But the money ended. Without providing LEAs the flexibility and ability to transfer thousands of jobs to state funding, the jobs would have been eliminated.
I find NCAE’s newfound concern for the accuracy of job numbers by funding source disingenuous. You have to wonder where that concern was during the last six months when NCAE trumpeted DPI job loss numbers with no reference to the source of funding or to the end of stimulus funding. It’s another example of selective indignation.
NCAE claims objective sources point out North Carolina’s weakening commitment to public education.
Objective sources? I beg to differ – vehemently. One source, the weekly magazine Education Week, has frequently been accused of merely being a mouthpiece for the education establishment’s values and preferences.
NCAE also cites the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities (CBPP) as a “federal organization” and an objective source. NCAE is wrong on both counts.
CBPP is not “a federal organization.” It is a non-profit think-tank. As for being objective, it relies heavily on grants from liberal foundations such as the Anne E. Casey Foundation, the Ford Foundation and the MacArthur Foundation. Two minutes on their website reveals a clear political agenda.
NCAE’s penchant for inventing claims, misinformation and ignoring cold hard facts show the lengths to which the organization will go to discredit those who dare to challenge the failed status quo.