Today we learned that North Carolina is 45th on WalletHub’s ranking of 2017 Best and Worst States for Teachers. According to T. Keung Hui’s report today in the News & Record.
North Carolina was 45th on WalletHub’s ranking of 2017 Best and Worst States for Teachers, finishing as the seventh-worst state on a list that included all 50 states and the District of Columbia. The personal finance website developed its rankings based on 21 metrics, ranging from teachers’ income growth potential to pupil-teacher ratio to teacher safety (http://www.newsobserver.com/news/local/education/article175276116.html).
What is most surprising about this ranking is that it is not surprising. You can view the study and its findings here: https://wallethub.com/edu/best-and-worst-states-for-teachers/7159/#kimberly-kappler-hewitt.
Last year, North Carolina was 44th (http://www.citizen-times.com/story/news/local/2016/09/26/nc-ranks-44th-among-best-and-worst-states-teachers/91107988/). That means that this year is a setback of sorts, and with all of that “reform” going on.
In 2014, NC was 51st. Remember that the District of Columbia is included.
The validity of a study will always come under fire by those whose narrative does not fit with the results and conclusions. Hui’s report includes comments from Dr. Terry Stoops of the John Locke Foundation.
But Terry Stoops, vice president for research for the John Locke Foundation, said the study is just an attempt by WalletHub to get more clicks on its website. He questioned the methodology used by WalletHub for the many different rankings it produces.
“This isn’t truly about finding out best and worst places for teachers,” Stoops said. “This is about driving people to WalletHub’s website.”
Of course Stoops would say that. He works for the John Locke Foundation. If he agreed with the study, then it would go against JLF’s narrative that teachers do not deserve the “rights and privileges” they supposedly currently have. But it is interesting that he claims it is an attempt to get people to WalletHub’s website.
Maybe if North Carolina was ranked a little higher, say maybe in the 30’s, it would not have caused as many people to go to WalletHub’s site. Maybe WalletHub should have ranked NC in the top ten for how it treats teachers. That would really drive down the traffic from NC to their website.
Probably not. Either way, he certainly clicked on WalletHub’s site.
Yet, the parameters and variables they used to conduct the study do seem rather solid. Think about it. It is easy to quantify the results of qualitative data points and surveys and plot them.
The study ranked each state on (as Hui reports):
- Average starting salary for teachers (adjusted for cost of living) – 36th
- Average annual salary for teachers (adjusted for cost of living) – 34th
- Quality of school system – 13th
- Pupil-teacher ratio – 34th
- Public-school spending per student – 43rd
- Teachers’ income growth potential – 38th
- Ten-year change in teacher salaries – 46th
- Teacher safety – 43rd
Those are not flattering numbers for our state. And they are consistent with what has occurred in the last few years.
Stoops had one other comment in Hui’s article.
Stoops said that if the rankings were consistent then North Carolina would have finished much higher based on the mark it got for the quality of schools.
Actually, that is the most interesting part of the entire piece. What Stoops is referring to is that North Carolina ranked 13th in WalletHub’s 2017 States with the Best & Worst School Systems.
You may find that study here – https://wallethub.com/edu/states-with-the-best-schools/5335/#.
The variables used for that study include:
- Graduations Rates
- Dropout Rate: Double Weight
- Test Scores
- AP Scores
- Median SAT Score
- Median ACT Score
The actual list has many more items that are more thoroughly explained.But Stoops cannot seem to marry the idea that NC ranks 45th in one study and 13th in another. He cannot seem to fathom the idea that our schools are maybe doing a good job, but the state does not treat public school teachers well, especially veteran teachers.
That “discrepancy” of 32 places on the WalletHub rankings just might be due to the most non-quantitative and most qualitative factor in our schools besides hard-working students – the role of teachers.
So what if the WalletHub studies do hold water? If you look at them, you will see that there is included some “Ask the Experts” sections. The scholars in these sections seem rather “bonifide.” It would be hard to imagine they would lend their names to the studies if they did not approve of the methodologies. Sure they can have political bent or an area of focus that may sway their opinions, but they are scholars.
Stoops works for a libertarian think tank associated with a man named Art Pope who was instrumental in former Gov. McCrory’s first budget and policy shift toward alienating teachers. In other words, Stoops has a very political bent.
And the writer of this post is certainly of a political bent and has an extreme bias when it comes to public school teachers.
However, we both have something in common: we apparently went to WalletHub’s website.