Class Size Chaos: The NCGA’s Deliberate Distortion of the Truth – Remembering Why We Marched in May and Will Vote in November (#10)

Remember when Sen. Chad Barefoot said this in February of 2017 concerning House Bill 13?

For years, the General Assembly has been sending tens of millions of dollars to districts for new classroom teachers for the purpose of lowering classroom sizes,” he said. “The question we keep asking over and over again is, ‘What did they do with the money? …The data that we have received from the districts varies, and some districts did not fully respond to our information request. What some of the data has shown is that there are districts that did not reduce class sizes with the funding we sent them. Why are they holding art and PE teachers’ jobs hostage for their misallocation of classroom teacher funds?” (http://www.wral.com/law-reducing-class-size-has-music-art-pe-teachers-anxious-about-future-/16628678/).

I do.

I thought about it a lot today as I reread Justin Parmenter’s December 2017 on-point op-ed in the News & Observer entitled “N.C. Senate ignores the class-size crisis” (http://www.newsobserver.com/opinion/op-ed/article191690189.html). Parmenter is a teacher-warrior and a vital voice for public education. He deserves any public education advocate’s attention.

Sen. Barefoot’s empty claim about having already “funded” the class size mandate was not the only one made, and it actually is the same manufactured lie conveniently used by GOP-stalwarts in Raleigh to hopefully silence the #ClassSizeChaos movement.

Parmenter made mention of two specific versions of the same lie:

During the October session, when the Senate declined to take up class sizes, Senate President Pro Tem Phil Berger said “those reductions have already been fully funded.” 

Senate majority leader Harry Brown said, “It’s obvious to us that money has been spent on something other than class size reduction…” 

But there was a purpose behind this lie. It was purely political. It involved money. And it was being championed by those who want to privatize public education here in North Carolina.

Even the John Locke Foundation helped to spread this lie. Dr. Terry Stoops gave an interesting explanation of how the NCGA had already funded the class size mandate.

Take a look at the video on the link below.

https://www.carolinajournal.com/video/jlfs-terry-stoops-rebuts-claim-that-n-c-class-size-reduction-is-unfunded-mandate/

class-size-chaos-e1518567515465

Perpetuating this deliberate distortion of the truth has become commonplace for this current NCGA, but there are many in North Carolina who are making the truth known.

One of those people is Kris Nordstrom, a well-known education finance and policy analyst. When Nordstrom publishes something, I read it. When he mentions something on Twitter, I look at it and read the links.

He’s just that good, and he doesn’t let statistics stand in the way because he is looking for the facts.

Parmenter’s op-ed made mention of Nordstrom, who published a rather epic article on the class-size mandate and the lies that people like Barefoot and Moore used in explaining their lack of action to fully fund the mandate (http://pulse.ncpolicywatch.org/2017/12/15/cant-general-assembly-leadership-stop-lying-unfunded-class-size-mandate/#sthash.UcohVyIb.dpbs). It is very much worth the read.

Within that article, Nordstrom stated,

DPI publishes data showing whether a school district has transferred their classroom teacher money for other uses. It’s a bit complicated to find. But in FY 2016-17, just four districts transferred any money out of their classroom teacher allotment. The transfers totaled just $1.1 million. In that same year, districts received $4.1 billion of classroom teacher money. In other words, DPI publishes data showing whether a school district has transferred their classroom teacher money for other uses. It’s a bit complicated to find. But in FY 2016-17, just four districts transferred any money out of their classroom teacher allotment. The transfers totaled just $1.1 million. In that same year, districts received $4.1 billion of classroom teacher money. In other words, districts spent 99.972 percent of their classroom teacher money on teachers last year. Clearly, district mismanagement is not a meaningful barrier to reaching lower class sizes.. Clearly, district mismanagement is not a meaningful barrier to reaching lower class sizes.

That bears repeating:

“Districts spent 99.972 percent of their classroom teacher money on teachers last year.” 

I would like to have heard Stoops’s response to that.

I would like to have heard Barefoot’s response to that.

I would like to have heard Berger’s response to that.

I would like to have heard a lot of people’s responses to that who believe in the convenient lie that this class-size mandate has already been funded.

But remember, those are the same people who believe that the current ratios of school nurses, guidance counselors, assistant principals, social workers, school psychologists, and teacher assistants to students are just fine.

2 thoughts on “Class Size Chaos: The NCGA’s Deliberate Distortion of the Truth – Remembering Why We Marched in May and Will Vote in November (#10)

  1. Seems this is another example of talking past each other. Just because $ was spent on teachers doesn’t mean the “extra” $ (which was never enough and came with other cutbacks in the same year) went to K-3 teachers. Berger has one view from the old studies about class size in 1st grade, and districts have another view about trying to balance needs all over (including supporting K-3 teachers with “specials” that allow planning time). Also, don’t forget $300m that local districts put into needed teachers (even though state policy is clear that NCGA should provide all operational expenses).

    Like

  2. When he said “Why are they holding art and PE teachers’ jobs hostage for their misallocation of classroom teacher funds?” Are they saying that those positions need to be used for classroom teachers. Get rid of the PE position for a classroom teacher? These people are absolutely crazy and have never been in a public school if that’s the case.

    Liked by 1 person

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