Monday, November 28, 2011

One Wonders If the Bill Will Say "By Request of the Attorney General"

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

The Worst Education Analyst In the State Strikes Again!

So Liv Finne wandered over to the LEAP website looking for info, and she used it to turn out yet another one of her talking points:
In 2010-11, schools added an additional 235 employees to school payrolls, increasing from 101,675 employees in 2009-10 to 101,910 employees in 2010-11.
"See, there's more employees! Funding's great! Ignore all those lying assholes who actually work in the schools, they don't know how to use the internet the way I do!"

But there's two things Liv isn't telling you, and I'm not really sure that she understands either of them:

1) That same LEAP website shows that enrollment in the state went up by about 6,000 students; in tight financial times this makes sense, as parents can't afford private tuition any longer and pull their kids into the public schools instead.

The state funds high schools at a ratio of 1 teacher for every 28.7 students; in grades K-3, it's 25.23:1. Even if you use the higher number--hell, let's round it to 29 for fun--you would still have an increase of about 207 FTE, and that's only the teachers. If I played around with the formulas for bus drivers, paraprofessionals, etc., I'm willing to bet I'd get pretty close to 235.

The point: when Liv makes a deal out of there being more employees without noting that there are also more kids, it's a lie of omission.

2) The most important thing on the LEAP webpage is the little disclaimer at the top of the far righthand column: "District Budgeted". The figures that she's playing with are from the district BUDGETS for 2010-2011 (the F195 form) and not the ACTUAL for 2010-2011 (the F196 forms, which will start rolling out soon enough).

What's the difference? Most all of those budgets were built with $200+ millions dollars of stimulus act jobs money figured in, money which was later clawed back by the state to plug last year's worst budget hole ever. Take out that money--hey, the state did--and spending is just about the same.

I'll fisk the rest of her column a different day. Right now, it's time to go do report cards for my 28 students.

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Tuesday, November 15, 2011

C'mon, Chris

This is just silly:
After passing the Families and Education Levy, and managing to re-elect three of the four incumbents running for school board, the Emerald City rudely cast out School Board President, Steve Sundquist. In an upset, Seattle elected a retired substitute math teacher – a result that has some casting about for answers and left to wonder, what happened? Teachers’ union contributions happened. And likely a whole lot of other stuff. But without the benefit of exit polling, we’ll likely never know, exactly.
That's from Chris Korsmo of the League of Education Voters, and while she's already being beaten up pretty good in the comments section (+1 for transparency), it bears repeating:

  • The incumbent who got tossed out, Steve Sundquist, raised about $50,600 according to the PDC website. The winner, Marty McLaren, totaled about $27,000, or roughly half what Director Sundquist did.
  • About $9,000 of McLaren's money, a third, came from the WEA.
  • Director Sundquist had 11 donors who gave more than $1,000. McLaren only had 5, including three from the WEA.
  • Sundquist's top donor is the head of the Gates Foundation, along with his wife, in together for a total of $5,000, so there were motives to be found on both sides of the ledger.
When the LEV points out the union money as something of note without talking about the other money at the same time, it's pretty easy to think that there's an agenda. That "whole lot of other stuff" includes a dilly of a financial scandal, a fired superintendent, and a technically legal land deal that still had a stink to it in the newspapers.

It's funny when people who are very good at playing politics, like the LEV, complain about politics not breaking their way.

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