Teacher Unions Will Do Absolutely Anything to Win

July 28, 2010

If you don’t believe me check out this political ad from Alabama.  Robert Byrne was in a Republican primary contest for governor of Alabama, but the teachers unions didn’t want him to win.  So they “gave $1.5 million to 10 PACs, which in turn gave nearly $1 million to True Republican PAC. Joe Cottle, a lobbyist for the teachers’ group, is the treasurer of five of the PACs, and Rudy Davidson, a former education lobbyist and a contributor to A VOTE, was treasurer of four others.”

Fueled with laundered teacher union money, “True Republican PAC” ran the following ad accusing Robert Byrne of believing in evolution and doubting that every word of the Bible was true:

The Alabama Education Association, the local affiliate of the NEA, admitted to funneling this money to True Republican PAC despite the fact that the NEA has repeatedly declared its support for the teaching of evolution.

Truth, consistency, educational excellence, honesty, the well-being of children — none of this matters to the teacher unions.  The only thing that matters is winning so that they can extract as much money from the public as possible.

The teacher union-funded ad has attracted some funny parodies.  Bill Maher fails to correctly describe the origin of the ad, but has this howler:

And as long as we are making fun of incredibly ignorant and embarrassing political ads from Alabama, which makes me feel less bad about the incredibly ignorant and embarrassing ads in Arkansas, check out this one by another gubernatorial candidates, Tim James:

And now check out this parody:

Oh.  And in case you were worried, the teacher union-backed candidate for the Republican nomination was the one who won.  Gives you confidence in democracy.

(Update:  I can’t find the original Tim James ad without the editorial comments inserted, but this gives a a good idea of what the original ad looked like.]

Question for Leo — How Long Will It Take For an NEA Correction?

January 29, 2010

Since the teacher union flacks have a hard time changing the cue cards from which they read, we have a question for Leo:  How long will it take until the NEA issues a correction for the obvious error committed in the video above and in the press release here?

In case you need to catch up, the NEA issued a press release claiming “Inflation over the past decade has outpaced teachers’ salaries in every single state across the country…”  The only problem is that their own report shows that teacher salaries actually rose at a real rate of 3.4% nationwide over the last decade and at faster than the rate of inflation in 36 states.  Read more about it here.

We’ll start our new series, NEA Correction Watch, tomorrow to count the days until they admit the error.

UPDATE — I’ve been corresponding by email with Celeste F. Busser, the NEA’s Senior Public Relations Specialist, about this error.  I have to say she has been very responsive.  In fact, she just emailed me to say that the NEA’s research department has “confirmed their mistake.”  She has altered the web site of the press release to say that inflation has outpaced salary increases in 15 states (rather than every state) over the past decade.  And she says that she will send a corrected press release to everyone who received the original one. 

Yes, the NEA is still putting their heavy spin on these facts, but at least they are getting the facts right.  I feel a little guilty about expecting the worst with regard to their issuing a correction.  But my guilt is reduced somewhat by the fact that they do not appear to acknowledge any error and are just replacing the erroneous information as if it never happened.  That’s not quite what they should be doing.

The Ministry of Truth Speaks

January 29, 2010

A press release from the National Education Association landed in my inbox this morning with the alarming headline: “Teachers Take ‘Pay Cut’ as Inflation Outpaces Salaries.  Average teachers’ salaries declined over the past decade” 

The release goes on to say: “Inflation over the past decade has outpaced teachers’ salaries in every single state across the country, according to the National Education Association’s update to the annual report Rankings and Estimates: Rankings of the States 2009 and Estimates of School Statistics 2010. ‘Public schoolteachers across the nation are continuing to lose spending power for themselves and their families in an already struggling economy,’ said NEA President Dennis Van Roekel.”

The only problem is that this is not what the data in the NEA report actually show.  In Table C-14 “Percentage Change in Average Salaries of Public School Teachers 1998-99 to 2008-09 (Constant $)” we see that salaries increased by 3.4% nationwide over the last decade after adjusting for inflation.  The increase in average salary outpaced inflation in 36 states, which is very different from the claim that  “Inflation over the past decade has outpaced teachers’ salaries in every single state across the country…”  Check for yourself, the table is on p. 20 of the report, which is p. 38 of the pdf.

I can’t find a single table or figure in the report that would justify the headline and claims in the press release.  But when the Ministry of Truth speaks who are you supposed to believe — them or your lying eyes?

I should add that total compensation for public school teachers has risen much more rapidly than just salary because of the rising value of benefits.  In addition, the numbers the NEA provides are the increase in the average salary, not the increase for the average teacher.  The huge increase in new teachers over the last decade who begin with lower starting salaries makes the rise in average salary smaller than the average raise that each individual teacher has received.

Even with these distortions, the report is a treasure trove of interesting information.  We learn that the average teacher in 2008-09 was paid $54,319, excluding the value of health benefits, generous (and guaranteed) pensions, and exceptionally high job security (See Table C-11).  We also learn that the average school revenue per pupil was $11,681 in 2008-09, up from $11,432 the year before  (See Tables F-1 and F-2).  And total instructional staff has increased by 13.6% over the last decade to 3,716,541, with increases in educators employed every year — no recession here.  (See Table 3.2 on p. 75 of text and p. 93 of pdf.)

UPDATE:  Here is the NEA press release with a video from NEA president, Dennis Van Roekel, repeating the erroneous claim.  It is obvious from the video and an email exchange I’ve been having with the NEA press representative that they compared the constant dollar percentage increase to the increase in the rate of inflation and found that no state had a real increase that was higher than the 29.6% rate of inflation over the past decade.  The problem with this is that the constant dollar percentage increase adjusts for inflation.  The claim of the press release is based on an obvious error.

Synchronize Your Watches…

June 8, 2009

(Guest Post by Matthew Ladner)

James Sherk and Dan Lips point out that the Obama administration is lowering the amount of transparency for unions even as the Indiana swindle unfolds.

Meanwhile the NEA seems to have shifted its position from “we will take care of this” to “it sucks to be you disabled teachers” back to “we will take care of this.”

Synchronize your watches for 15 minutes and we will see what they say next.