Thursday, August 01, 2013

Liv Finne Shames Herself Again; Facebook Doesn't Care

Still the #3 image when you search for Liv Finne on Google!


What frustrates me about Liv is that she is purposefully lazy in what she does, but at the end of the day she knows she doesn't really have to be accurate because accuracy doesn't really matter to what she's trying to accomplish.

Her newest "research" with the Washington Policy Center's name attached to it is prima facie ridiculous, but I've seen at least three conservative people on Facebook--people that I have an awful lot of respect for--repeat it as a verifiable truth, and that's maddening.  I think, unfortunately, that it gives some of them a conclusion that they really want to believe, but this isn't research, and the fact that it's given any sort of credence is a pretty powerful statement about just how dishonest the debate around school reform has gotten.  I'm not going to bother to fisk the whole diatribe, but here's the money paragraph:
In 2012-13, Washington school districts report they paid salaries and benefits to private outside labor organizations for the equivalent of 60 full-time positions, enough to provide full teaching staff for two elementary schools. The funds were diverted through a budgeted account called “Duty Code 61, Suffix 0, Certificated on Leave.” Union executives received an average of $68,783 each per year in public education funds, or about $7,000 more than the average pay of teachers who worked in Washington public school classrooms during the 2012-13 school year.
 That would certainly be a scandal.  That would also be a clear violation of state law as a gift of public funds, so if this is real (spoiler: it isn't), Liv should be filing formal complaints against every single one of those school districts for violating state law.  She's got them dead to rights!

Here's why Liv isn't beating a path to the courthouse door:  she herself knows that she's full of shit, because she made this same mistake three years ago in an attack against Mary Lindquist.  It was pointed out to her nicely in the comments section (lost, unfortunately, when the blog moved over) and far less nicely by me here on this blog that the money that school districts pay out for full-time release union presidents is reimbursed by the unions they're elected to lead.  There is no giveaway of tax dollars here--that would be illegal, and do you really think that school district superintendents would allow it to happen?

I was polite enough to call it a lie of omission back then, but when the lie has been pointed out and is repeated again it's more than appropriate to just call it intentional.  Liv repeats it because it scores the points that she wants to score, which is perfectly fine, but it certainly isn't "research" in any acceptable sense of the word.

Then there's the chart at the bottom of her post, where Liv names names and calls out those 60 full-time union positions.  Let's talk about some of those names:

*She says that Mabton, with less than 900 students, has a full time union president.  The guy on her list was arrested in May of 2012 for theft, and resigned in September.  Liv should know better than to use the preliminary S275 data to make a chart like this, but research is haaaaaaaard.
*Kirstin Nicholson is, in fact, the president of the Central Kitsap EA, but given that she's one (1) person I doubt that she's really released as three (3) FTE employees.  For Christ's sake, Liv, you didn't notice that when you published the chart?
*Tacoma must have one hell of a union, because they apparently have 11 different union officers on full time release, which would be a neat trick when places like Seattle, Spokane, and Kent only have 1.
*And one of those 11 is a principal, who is by definition not a WEA member.  The $115,000 salary is a bit of a tell in that regard, something I would expect an education expert like Liv to pick up on.  Through the magic of Google here's an article about when she got in trouble for cussing at kids.

So we don't really know how many of the people on that list are union leave.  Because Liv couldn't be arsed to do the basic fundamentals of fact checking and proof reading, her entire "research" is flawed.  This would fail most college classes, but apparently it's A-OK for the Washington Policy Center, and that's regrettable.

I may disagree on policy with the Freedom Foundation, but they're at least thorough.  We may have different conclusions, but I can at least look at the material they put out and see how they got there.  Plus, I respect Trent England's beard.

The Washington Policy Center, though, is a joke on education reform. This is an absolute, provable certainty, and it's never going to get any better.

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