Wednesday, April 24, 2013

The Goods on WeVote Part II - Merican Majority & WeVoBee Lies

As reported here recently, there are well funded national Plutocratic People with national plutocratic goals behind the local Tea Party people who after your schools, your money and your children: And surprise surprise they're willing to lie to advance their hidden agenda and achieve their goal$.

The National Agenda and the Generalized Lies: 
Let's start with the lies crafted by America Majority, who trained the local Tea Party / WeVote candidates for the BASD School board both this year and last year before proceeding to the lies promoted by both about events in Burlington. The following paragraph (emphasis added) is from the American Majority (AM) website:  

AM: "According to the National Center for Education Statistics, total per student spending reaches $12,643, or over $600 billion annually. That is a 46 percent increase from 1988–89 through 2008–09, “with interest on school debt increasing faster than current expenditures or capital outlay”. They also report that 81% of that goes to staff salaries and benefits- a 75% increase over 10 years. Clearly, the public education system has financial problems that need solutions."

It should be noted that the National Center for Educational Statistics (NCES) is part of the Federal Department of Education and therefore a non-partisan source of information. Now let's see what the NCES Actually Says:

NCES: "Total expenditures per student in fall enrollment in public elementary and secondary schools rose from $8,634 in 1988–89 to $12,643 in 2008–09, a 46 percent increase as measured in constant 2010–11 dollars (see table A-20-1). Most of this increase occurred after 1998–99. The various components of total expenditures experienced different percent increases during this time period. Spending on interest on school debt per student had the highest percent increase (149 percent, from $141 to $351), followed by capital outlay, e.g., buildings, at 117 percent (from $637 to $1,383) and employee benefits at 75 percent (from $1,267 to $2,222).

In 2008–09, salary and employee benefits for school staff amounted to $8,797 per student, or about 81 percent of current expenditures. From 1988–89 through 2008–09, combined salary and employee benefit expenditures per student increased by 38 percent, with the salary component increasing by 29 percent and the employee benefits component increasing by 75 percent."

Did you notice the little switcheroo that American Majority pulled? They claimed that salary and benefits had  increased 75% since 1998-99, when in fact they only increased 38% since 1988-89, less than the 46% over-all increase in spending since 1988-89. The 75% increase cited by NCES is for benefits only and is no doubt legitimately due mostly to health insurance, the costs of which rose 131% nationally between 1999 and 2009:  

The media these days is squeamish about using the word "lie", preferring terms like "misstatement". I suppose one could call these little manipulations of the facts "half truths". But since the intent of the "editor" was obviously to deceive the readers, that intent makes it a lie. If you must lie to advance your thoughts, your thoughts are not advanced!

And doesn't that figure of 81% going to employee salary and benefits sound familiar? It was the figure quoted by TP candidate Norma Miller as she ludicrously claimed that this money wasn't going to benefit students: Now you know where she got her figure and the ridiculous notion that in a labor intensive effort like education most of the money should not be spent on teachers, as if the teachers are there as mobile mannequins and not for the benefit of the students. How ponderously dim, SHEESH!

NCES went on to conclude: "Whereas expenditures per student for salaries have increased by 29 percent between 1988–89 and 2008–09, salaries for teachers and other staff have remained nearly flat. The increase in salary expenditures results from increases in staff greater than the increase in students."

I'm sure there are legitimate reasons for this increase in staff as well, like the deinstitutionalization and mainstreaming of children with disabilities that require extra support. Notice that American Majority  in shifting their "facts" around is trying to place as much of the blame as possible for the costs of educating our children on the teachers, even though staff related costs have risen at lower rates than other costs like capital outlays and debt service, their salaries (like the rest of us 99%-ers) are flat and they have no control over healthcare costs that are on a skyrocketing path to being out of the reach of most Americans. That is a reflection of their hidden anti-worker, anti-union, national plutocratic agenda.

And now Back to Burlington and the Localized Lies:
From the American Majority link in paragraph two above: "One of the groups that joined the New Leaders Project is We Vote Burlington. Activists in a local group led by Bonnie Ketterhagen attended an American Majority training and decided to bring some change to their own school board. They recruited two new candidates for the school board elections, trained them using American Majority’s campaign resources, and helped them to victory in the Spring of 2012."

Lie #1: "In the Burlington Area School District, citizens showed up in mass to oppose property tax hikes, and voted down a property tax increase. However, the school board ignored the wishes of the taxpayers and proceeded to raise taxes by 3.69%."

Yes the WeVoBees plotted and executed a sneak attack to show up en mass and vote to blow up the BASD budget process in the late summer of 2011:  But perhaps our readers will recall a little incident conveniently left out of the account above that was no doubt provided by WeVote to our friends at American Majority. There was a board meeting at the high school on Halloween 2011:  The bleachers on both sides of the field house as well as chairs on the floor were flooded with BASD electors. As it turned out the Citizens out numbered the Taxpayers by a substantial margin and the electors voted to reject the Tea Party's frightful sneak attack on our schools. I suppose it's possible that Bonnie simply forgot to mention that, or the AM folks didn't feel it pertinent to the "message" they wished to convey.

Lie#2: "The newly elected conservatives immediately started creating waves on the teacher-union dominated school board."  Yeah those of you who live in Burlington and pay any attention to the School Board know that "teacher-union dominated" simply is not true, nuff said.

Lies #3&4: "One of those new members, Phil Ketterhagen, decided to investigate local testing methods that had indicated improved test results and discovered that in reality scores had been going down for the previous 6 years, according to the statewide testing standards. After bringing to light the inconsistency and stating his view that teacher raises should be left out of the next budget, the liberal controlled school board voted to censure him."

Funny, as I recall the censure was related to an intemperate and bullying comment by Mr. Ketterhagen comparing teachers to cattle and saying they needed to be hit on the head with a 2x4. I guess fidelity to truth and facts are just not Cult of Con sacraments." I also seem to remember that there was significant dispute over Mr. Ketterhagen's interpretation of those test results and/or the particular type of test he chose to focus on. But I don't have that information readily available right now. And again, "the liberal controlled school board"? In Burlington!? Please.

Once again we see the Tea Party for what it is, a hidden big money anti-democratic, selfish national agenda behind local activists, attempting to impose their narrow-minded will on their fellow citizens, and who are willing to use scapegoating and lies about their fellow community members to attain the goals that are spawned from their perceived Taxpayer-Victimhood. Reject the Mad Hatters cuz INTEGRITY MATTERS!

For more reading on the Plutocratic education agenda and WHY the Wisconsin based Bradley Foundation is pouring millions into the cause of education privateering go here:

1 comment:

Sean Cranley said...

The blog post above included the following passage about the increasing cost of public school teacher salaries and my theory to explain that:

NCES went on to conclude: "Whereas expenditures per student for salaries have increased by 29 percent between 1988–89 and 2008–09, salaries for teachers and other staff have remained nearly flat. The increase in salary expenditures results from increases in staff greater than the increase in students."

I'm sure there are legitimate reasons for this increase in staff as well, like the deinstitutionalization and mainstreaming of children with disabilities that require extra support.END

Well today I came across the following article confirming my assumption:

Myth #3
EXCERPT: We’re spending more, but schools are getting worse
Warnings on this theme are generally accompanied by graphs showing steep growth in per-pupil spending — juxtaposed against a flat line representing academic achievement. That’s misleading, however, on two fronts.

Spending has certainly jumped. But a huge part of the increase — about half, according to economist Richard Rothstein — has been dedicated to serving students with disabilities who were not guaranteed (and often did not receive) a free public education until the 1970s. Schools are also serving far more immigrant students who come in speaking a dizzying array of languages.