by Dr. Terry Stoops
Director of the Center for Effective Education, John Locke Foundation
How many times have you heard someone begin a conversation with, “I was on the WalletHub.com website earlier today…”?
WalletHub.com was founded in 2012 and is in the business of ranking stuff and selling advertising on their website. For example, the small Washington D.C.-based company recently ranked North Carolina 37th on a list of most and least happiest states. (Just so you know, the happiest state was Utah and the most miserable state was West Virginia.) Now the folks at WalletHub.com produced a list of “Best and Worst States for Teachers.”
Too good to pass up, an ABC 11 reporter discovered the ranking and aired a story with the ominous title, “Survey calls North Carolina the worst state for teachers in the US.”
The “survey” is a series of rankings developed by Richie Bernardo, who is a financial writer at WalletHub.com and appears to be a nice young man. In fact, one wonders why the reporter did not ask Mr. Bernardo to comment on the ranking. After all, he did ask three liberals – State Superintendent June Atkinson, Progress NC’s Gerrick Brenner, and N.C. Association of Educators president Rodney Ellis – to use the survey as a platform to bash state legislators and Republicans. To respond to their charges, he interviewed one person – Tom Murry, a Republican representative from Wake County. To add insult to injury, the reporter repeatedly misspelled Rep. Murry’s last name.
I will not get into too much detail about the arbitrariness of the methodology or the sources used. (For an excellent overview of both, read this article from the Daily Haymaker.) The survey itself examined changes in per-pupil spending and teacher pay over ten years. Republicans have been in charge of the legislature for four years but most of the data sets used by Mr. Bernard lag by at least one year. As a result, it represents three years of legislative control by Republicans and seven years of control by Democrats. Given that fact, an honest liberal would have observed that Republicans and Democrats share the blame in stunting school funding growth.
But honesty, among other virtues, is usually in short supply during election season.