by Dr. Terry Stoops
Director of the Center for Effective Education, John Locke Foundation
Allysia Finley of the Wall Street Journal notes how teacher unions disseminate and distort education finance statistics for political gain. North Carolina gets a mention!
The NEA encourages its affiliate unions to use its annual state rankings “to advocate for higher pay for teachers and more state funding for public schools by showing how my state compares to others.” The union notes that its North Carolina affiliate uses survey data “on average teacher salary rankings and per pupil expenditure rankings as a vital and main negotiating chip to lobby for teacher raises and increased K-12 education funding.” In other words, by playing states against one another, unions hope to drive up education spending across the country.
When North Carolina public school teachers abandon their students for a hootenanny in Raleigh on May 16, we’ll hear a lot about the annual state rankings.
Ms. Finley also notes my “favorite” tactic – using elevated baselines. She writes,
Teachers unions nearly always compare school spending and teacher salaries today with peak levels before the great recession, which were inflated like housing prices. Between 2000 and 2009, average per pupil spending across the country increased 52%, according to the National Center for Education Statistics. After flat-lining for a few years, per pupil spending ticked up by 7.5% between 2012 and 2015. School spending growth might have slowed over the past several years, but it still increased faster than the consumer price index.
North Carolina’s elevated baseline was in 2008, which is why so many comparisons of education spending start there. It is a convenient way to ignore the recession-fueled drop in education spending by the Democratic lawmakers a year later.