After yesterday’s release-retraction-release of education job loss statistics from the NC Department of Public Instruction (DPI), the usual suspects lined up to blame Republican legislators for “draconian” cuts to public schools.  The News & Observer had an incredibly misleading, i.e., typical, headline, “N.C. school cuts just keep coming.”

In Part 1, I will examine the survey itself.

1. DPI used a Zoomerang survey to collect the data, rather than relying on the various databases that they maintain.  As my colleague Rick Henderson reminded me, when BLS or ESC takes surveys of private businesses, the agencies can audit their survey responses against the companies’ unemployment insurance payment records. With the government, there’s no comparable objective baseline.  In other words, self-reported data should be interpreted with extreme caution.

2. The data does not disaggregate jobs by funding sources.  How many of these jobs were cut due to the loss of federal stimulus funds?  How many positions had been funded with local dollars?  Was the state budget at fault?

3. Democrats controlled state government during the first three years of the data provided (2008-09, 2009-10, and 2010-11).  I just thought that you would like to know that.

4. Data for 2011-12 are rough estimates/projections. School districts are still hiring for this school year.

5. Why is this the first year that DPI conducted this kind of survey?  Does it have anything to do with Republican control of the General Assembly?  (Hint: Yes)

6. Duplin and Guilford counties did not participate in the survey.  DPI does not explain why they refused to do so.  Do they have something to hide?

7. DPI did not survey charter schools.  Why not survey all public schools?