As we near the final few weeks of one of the most hotly contested Senate races in the US – right here in North Carolina, social media messaging becomes more and more crucial for candidates as they continue their quest to win over undecided/unaffiliated voters in order to cross the finish line first in November. In the case of incumbent Senator Kay Hagan, the vast majority of the time that “messaging” boils down to falsehoods, half-truths, personal attacks on character, and grossly taking her opponent – GOP nominee and NC House Speaker Thom Tillis – grossly out of context.
Today, she managed to combine several of her typical tactics into standard anti-Tillis tweets – except this time she inadvertently slammed … herself and her fellow NC Democrats.
As of this writing, here are the two tweets:
— Kay Hagan (@kayhagan) September 30, 2014
— Kay Hagan (@kayhagan) September 30, 2014
Here’s the “write-up” on her campaign website:
GREENSBORO – Speaker Thom Tillis’ dangerous education agenda slashed $500 million from public education in order to give tax cuts for the wealthy, so it unfortunately comes as no surprise that a new report ranks North Carolina as the worst state for teachers. Those education cuts have put the squeeze on teachers who are dealing with larger class sizes, fewer teaching assistants and outdated supplies that have left them dipping into their own pockets to stock their classrooms.
From the Greensboro News & Record:
Among the 50 states and the District of Columbia, North Carolina ranks as the worst state for teachers, according to a new ranking by WalletHub.
The personal finance website analyzed data along 18 categories to come to its rankings.
The metrics it looked at included looks at states’ median starting salaries, unemployment rates and teacher job openings, among other factors.
Read the rest of the article HERE.
But what Hagan doesn’t tell you – perhaps intentionally, or perhaps it was out of sheer ignorance (my vote is for the latter) – are these pesky little details, as reported by Charlotte-based news outlet WCNC (bolded emphasis added by me):
The company looked at things like starting salary, per pupil spending and the 10-year change in teacher salaries from 2003-04 to 2013-14.
“The NC rank was affected mostly by the level of salaries that teachers have in NC and related indicators (starting salary, salaries increase over the last decade etc.),” Raz Daraban, communications manager for WalletHub said via email. “Other factors that had a negative impact were the low annual state and local expenditures for K-12 public schools per student and the best schools ranking.”
The analysis did not take into account the teacher raises that were approved this summer by state lawmakers.
What does all that mean? Well, a number of important things:
1) The ranking was “mostly affected” by salaries and their increase “over the last decade” – which, as NC education guru Terry Stoops notes means SEVEN of the TEN years of the report, the NC state legislature (known here as the General Assembly) was controlled by … Democrats, including then-state Senator Kay Hagan:
The “survey” is a series of rankings developed by Richie Bernardo, who is a financial writer at WalletHub.com and appears to be a nice young man. In fact, one wonders why the reporter did not ask Mr. Bernardo to comment on the ranking. After all, he did ask three liberals – State Superintendent June Atkinson, Progress NC’s Gerrick Brenner, and N.C. Association of Educators president Rodney Ellis – to use the survey as a platform to bash state legislators and Republicans. To respond to their charges, he interviewed one person – Tom Murry, a Republican representative from Wake County. To add insult to injury, the reporter repeatedly misspelled Rep. Murry’s last name.
I will not get into too much detail about the arbitrariness of the methodology or the sources used. (For an excellent overview of both, read this article from the Daily Haymaker.) The survey itself examined changes in per-pupil spending and teacher pay over ten years. Republicans have been in charge of the legislature for four years but most of the data sets used by Mr. [Richie] Bernard[o] lag by at least one year. As a result, it represents three years of legislative control by Republicans and seven years of control by Democrats. Given that fact, an honest liberal would have observed that Republicans and Democrats share the blame in stunting school funding growth.
But honesty, among other virtues, is usually in short supply during election season.
2) As pointed out above in the WCNC piece (and what should have been obvious, considering the years they reviewed), WalletHub’s analysis didn’t include the 7% increase in teacher pay raises that were passed by the GOP-led NC General Assembly over the summer. Keep in mind, too, that some of the statistics for the report were compiled with information provided by the National Education Association – hardly a non-partisan organization. So exactly how much weight should be given to its “findings” in the scheme of things?
FULL WEIGHT, according to the Hagan campaign – and their faithful supporters on social media, who have also been dutifully passing along links to articles about the report and doing just as Hagan did, blame Tillis reflexively rather than carefully read and analyze the articles and report linked. But since we’re supposed to take this report as the “gospel truth according to Kay and Co,”, we’ll run with the stats in it – just for the sake of argument. You know, argue on their terms.
Not surprising that Senator Hagan and her campaign team apparently didn’t read the fine print on what’s been published by mainstream outlets about this report, when you consider that the most disastrous legislation that passed in modern history – Obamacare – wasn’t read in full by most Democrats who voted for it, either.
Including Senator Hagan who, ironically, brags of helping craft the bill that eventually forced nearly 475,000 North Carolinians off of health insurance plans they liked – in spite of Hagan’s some 24 promises to the contrary.
As they say, some things never change …
**Posted by Phineas
The break room coffee machine is a staple of many a workplace. Usually though, it tends to fall on the “economical” or “value” side of the java spectrum.
But not in Castro Valley, California, where officials with the Castro Valley Unified School District are taking fire for the purchase of a $14,000 espresso maker.
The outrage was immediate. According to KPIX News in San Francisco, the school board’s facebook page was flooded with angry comments when word of the pricey espresso maker – paid for with taxpayer money – got out.
According to a school board official, buying the espresso machine was “an opportunity” to keep a part-time child nutritionist on staff. If you can’t see that, you must hate the children.
Though how a $14,000 espresso maker for the staff and child nutrition go together is a bit baffling. When I was in fourth grade, we were served chocolate milk, not a double shot.
And for an additional fourteen grand per year, maybe they could have made that nutritionist full-time? Or used it to… Oh, I don’t know. Buy new textbooks and school supplies for the kids?
Silly me. I guess a Mr. Coffee is just too déclassé for the Castro Valley school board.
Can’t wait to see the board members justify this to the voters.
(Crossposted at Public Secrets)
Brown, 46, has become an articulate voice and recognizable face opposing tenure, the century-old system of laws and contractual guarantees giving public-school teachers due-process rights in layoffs and terminations. Brown argues that tenure makes it difficult and expensive for school systems to remove underperforming teachers, and it protects their jobs at the expense of their students.
“I’m a mom, and my view of public education begins and ends with the fundamental question: Is this good for children?” Brown says by phone from New York, where she lives. “In a situation where it’s the child or the adult, I’m going with the child. .?.?. Tenure is permanent lifetime employment. There’s no reason why anyone’s job should become untouchable for the rest of their life.”
Campbell the journalist might interrupt an interview subject to take exception to that kind of generalization. Teachers unions and their advocates say tenure — instituted to prevent widespread abuses of a female-dominated workforce — doesn’t guarantee much beyond a fair hearing. Tenured teachers deemed ineffective or negligent, after hearings and evaluations, are fired, they point out.
“I have trouble with this issue because it’s so totally illogical,” says Diane Ravitch, an education historian. “It’s hard to understand why anyone thinks taking away teachers’ due-process rights will lead to great teachers in every classroom.”
As for Brown, Ravitch is dismissive: “She is a good media figure because of her looks, but she doesn’t seem to know or understand anything about teaching and why tenure matters. .?.?. I know it sounds sexist to say that she is pretty, but that makes her telegenic, even if what she has to say is total nonsense.”
Far be it from me to stoop to the level this so-called “education historian” did by snidely boiling down Brown’s popularity and smarts to her looks, but I have no idea – none at all – why the woman would come across as jealous of another woman’s looks. None whatsoever.
Continuing on, I don’t know her political leanings but Ravitch displays the typical behavior of a left wing feminist educrat know it all who thinks not only do they know best how to educate children and young adults, but that anyone who disagrees with them must be dismissed as “extreme” or “all hat no substance” — as a person whose opinions are not worthy of serious consideration. By doing that, self-important elitists like Ravitch can therefore summarily without a second thought dismiss a person’s arguments without taking the time to read and/or hear them and later provide a reasonable analysis after careful consideration.
Jon Chait, no friend to conservative education reformers by any stretch nevertheless slammed Ravitch here on a multitude of levels:
Why, yes, that does sound rather sexist. Now, Ravitch suggests here that Brown’s analysis is so transparently illogical that perhaps only her looks can account for her views. Why, Ravitch wonders, would the elimination of a job protection help attract better teachers? Let me reveal, via the power of logic, how this can work.
The basic problem is that some proportion of American teachers is terrible at their job and immune to improvement, yet removing them is a practical impossibility. (A good overview of the research on chronically ineffective teachers can be found here. Standard caveat: The author is my wife.) Under some conditions, loosening tenure laws can lead directly to more effective teachers in the classroom. For instance, when the Great Recession drove states to lay off teachers in order to balance their budgets, last-in, first-out hiring rules led them to fire teachers regardless of quality, thus removing highly effective (yet unprotected) teachers from classrooms.
In most fields, your pay is based on your perceived value rather than on the number of years you have spent on the job. Value-based pay does not work perfectly in any field. It certainly doesn’t work perfectly in my field, which explains, for instance, Howard Kurtz’s rumored extravagant wealth. Yet if we stopped paying journalists on the basis of their perceived value and started paying them on the basis of time served, I’d argue it would reduce the quality of journalism.
Opponents of reform relentlessly pick apart the various performance pay measures that are being implemented by reformers, and it’s true that none of those measures is perfect, either. But nearly all of them work better than paying people on the basis of how long they’ve held a job and making it functionally impossible to fire them for being terrible at their job. In places like Washington, D.C., education reformers have given teachers a chance to forfeit their tenure in return for the possibility of much higher pay.
Whatever side of this issue a person is on is irrelevant to how the debate over it is conducted. Ravitch’s sneers and condescending attitude towards disagreement in any form are beneath contempt and, frankly, are not worthy of the children for who she claims to be fighting. Time to grow up, ma’am. As many in your circle have often said in the past, this is not about you. It’s about the children. So stop acting like one.
Teachers unions have turned on Secretary of Education Arne Duncan and the Obama administration, creating a major divide in the Democratic Party coalition.
The largest teachers union in the country, the National Education Association (NEA), called for Duncan to resign at its convention on July 4, arguing his policies on testing have failed the nation’s schools.
Tensions between Duncan and the unions had been building for some time.
The administration’s Race to the Top program, which has provided $4.35 billion to states, incentivized changes that unions strongly oppose. One of the most controversial policies backed by Duncan is using students’ improvement on standardized tests to help evaluate teachers and make pay and tenure decisions.
“Our members are frustrated and angry,” said NEA president Dennis Van Roekel. “Number one is the toxic testing. There is too much.”
An added spark came on June 10, when a California judge ruled the state’s teacher tenure laws are unconstitutional because they keep ineffective teachers in the classroom and deprive poor and minority students of their right to an equal education.
Teachers unions, which are strong defenders of tenure, expressed outrage when Duncan said the plaintiffs in the case were just some of millions of students disadvantaged by tenure laws. He called the decision “a mandate to fix these problems.”
With the teachers unions at loggerheads with the administration, Democrats are suddenly at risk of losing one of their most reliable allies and fundraising sources.
It would appear that when it comes to crucial issues of “tenure” and “teacher performance”, Duncan is surprisingly more right than left. On the flip side, he supports the implementation of the controversial Common Core “teaching standards”, which the right strongly opposes and even a growing number of left wing educators have issues with. If Duncan starts to become too much more of a liability for our celebrity President, look for him to “resign to spend more time with family” in the very near future …
Hillary Clinton is in hot water over a $225,000 speaking fee she will reportedly receive for an upcoming appearance at the University of Nevada, Las Vegas.
UNLV students are demanding Clinton to return what they see as an “outrageous” speaking fee for an October event and have criticized the school for paying her so much money at a time when tuition is scheduled to spike by 17 percent over the next four years.
“We really appreciate anybody who would come to raise money for the university,” UNLV student body president Elias Benjelloun told a Nevada television station. “But anybody who’s being paid $225,000 to come speak, we think that’s a little bit outrageous. And we’d like Secretary Clinton, respectfully, to gracefully return to the university or the foundation.”
Benjelloun said the potential 2016 presidential contender should donate her fee to the university.
Republicans have spread a video of student leaders slamming the university’s decision, hoping to paint Clinton as out of touch with working families, much the same way as Democrats attacked Mitt Romney for being too rich in the 2012 presidential campaign.
It’s not often we see liberals hoisted by their own petards, so to speak, and I have to admit that I’m immensely enjoying the Clintons’ decades-old class warfare arguments being turned against them at a critical time in the run-up to the former Sec. of State’s expected (expected by me) announcement at another run for President.
For better or worse, Democrats have “set the standard” upon which the so-called “rich” should be judged going back many years, and Mrs. Clinton right now is on the receiving end of the negative backlash of a ridiculous, divisive (not to mention double) standard she and her party have held Republicans to since they’ve been active in politics, one which is now being used as a criticism against … her. It is to laugh.
The Politico has a well-written piece that discusses the apparent decline of teachers unions across the country:
As the two big national teachers unions prepare for their conventions this summer, they are struggling to navigate one of the most tumultuous moments in their history.
Long among the most powerful forces in American politics, the unions are contending with falling revenue and declining membership, damaging court cases, the defection of once-loyal Democratic allies — and a multimillion-dollar public relations campaign portraying them as greedy and selfish.
They took a big hit Tuesday when a California judge struck down five laws they had championed to protect teachers’ jobs. The Supreme Court could deliver more bad news as early as next week, in a case that could knock a huge hole in union budgets. On top of all that, several well-funded advocacy groups out to curb union influence are launching new efforts to mobilize parents to the cause.
Responding to all these challenges has proved difficult, analysts say, because both the National Education Association and the American Federation of Teachers are divided internally. There’s a faction urging conciliation and compromise. Another faction pushes confrontation. There’s even a militant splinter group, the Badass Teachers Association.
Leaders of both the NEA and AFT have sought to rally the public to their side by talking up their vision for improving public education: More arts classes and fewer standardized tests, more equitable funding and fewer school closures. Those are popular stances. But union leaders can’t spend all their time promoting them: They must also represent their members. And that’s meant publicly defending laws that strike even many liberals as wrong-headed, such as requiring districts to lay off their most junior teachers first, regardless of how effective they are in the classroom.
The result: an unprecedented erosion of both political and public support for unions. And no clear path for labor leaders to win it back.
My issue just from an “outsider” perspective is that these days teachers unions come off as little more than bullies who are more interested in pay hikes and bonuses and keeping their “status” within their respective organizations than they are educating children, you know – actually being, well, teachers in the truest sense of the word. In fact, teachers unions have become very similar to their contemporaries in the various Big Labor movements in that the only way they think they can get their points across and ultimately get their way is by strong-arming opponents and not listening to counter-arguments.
I know there are a lot of good rank and file teachers out there – in fact, most are – but the faces of the teachers union movements do them a great disservice, and that’s actually an understatement. It’s almost like everyone else is expected to sacrifice except for them at a time when people can’t afford having anymore of their paychecks going to the state and feds than they already do. That’s not to say that teachers don’t make great sacrifices themselves – many do by bringing in pencils, paper, etc to the classroom (among other extra things they do), but their union allies shouldn’t make the mistake of acting like they’re the only ones having to make tough choices when it comes to educating children and surviving in this stagnant economy: the parents of the children they’re charged with teaching probably are, too, in more ways than one.
Anyway, the article is an interesting read, so make sure you read the whole thing. I’m especially interested in hearing the perspective on this of parents who’ve had to deal head-on with teachers union issues in their city or state.
In case you were thinking that Cosmopolitan magazine was going to dial it down a notch or two in the aftermath of the outrage and disbelief over comments one of their managers made in response to Miss USA’s remarks on self defense in the context of campus rapes, think again. Cosmo sex editor Anna Breslaw stomped her feet and churned out this head-scratcher:
During the question-and-answer portion of the Miss USA pageant, 24-year-old Miss Nevada Nia Sanchez, who took home the crown, said she believed some colleges might sweep campus rape under the rug to prevent bad press. Sanchez, a fourth degree black belt in Tae Kwon Do, added, “more awareness [of the issue] is very important so that women can learn to protect themselves … You need to be confident and be able to defend yourself. That’s something we need to start to implement for a lot of women.”
Self defense isn’t icky, and anyone with a fifth-grade reading comprehension level can understand that’s not what Elisa was saying.
Actually, yeah – it was:
Can’t get much more plain that that. And as I noted in my prior piece on this issue, she was far from the only one.
Breslaw went on:
What is icky is the idea that we’d pour the entirety of our time, energy, and federal funding into training every 18-year-old girl in America to be jacked, gun-toting Lara Crofts rather than, oh, I don’t know, teaching boys not to rape or shaming college administrators for not taking sexual assault allegations seriously.
What’s “icky” is Ms. Breslaw assuming that most people who did a double take at Ms. Benson’s remarks believe there’s only room for one solution. Also “icky” is her implicit assumption that boys aren’t taught from a very early age to respect women. Disturbing is her obvious belief that if respect is taught then it automatically means that a young man won’t grow up and eventually hurt a woman. We can and should drill it into the heads of every single one of them that respecting women is not optional, but that doesn’t mean on down the line he’s going to abide by that.
Which is where self-defense comes into play. Fortunately, Breslaw is on board with women learning self-defense. Sorta:
Self-defense is a fantastic thing for every woman (or man) to have under their belt — in fact, experts say would-be attackers are often deterred by the confident manner in which women educated in self-defense carry themselves — but this limited view of campus sexual assault prevention perpetuates dangerous myths about sexual assault and shames victims for not adequately “preparing” to defend themselves against rape. It’s the same mentality as blaming sexual assault victims for wearing provocative clothing and therefore “brought it upon themselves,” rather than blaming their attackers for the actual assault.
Do me a favor and please re-read the bolded part of the above paragraph. Then digest it. Self-defense “perpetuates myths about sexual assault” and …. “shames victims” for not preparing to defend themselves?? SAY WHAT? She actually thinks promoting self-defense is the equivalent to those who snidely say “but she was wearing a short skirt so she was asking for it”? And it “shames” women who have been victims of sexual assault? In what universe does Ms. Breslaw reside? One wonders if she’d say that exact thing to victims of sexual assault who take up self-defense training and who tour and give speeches promoting that very thing as a very useful tool in preventing an attacker from doing a woman harm?? Good grief!
She says she believes all this but yet wants you to think that she harbors a “big tent” approach to the issue combating violence against women that includes incorporating self-defense into the mix? I don’t think so. Here’s the shorter version of Breslaw’s ridiculous argument: ‘Let’s not emphasize self-defense because we don’t want to risk hurting the feelings of women who have already become victims. In fact, let’s put the onus for trying to stop future assaults entirely on “society” rather than try to educate women on how to better protect themselves.’ Maybe that “solution” would work flawlessly in Breslaw’s Feminist Utopia but here in the real world, the reality is that there are bad people out there and no matter how much we try and communicate that it’s not ok to hurt women, those who want to WILL.
Rape is more of a crime of opportunity than it is some guy hiding in an alleyway waiting for you to walk by. With increasing frequency, a rapist is more likely to be someone you know or are otherwise somewhat acquainted with, perhaps casually, than not. Either way, it’s best to be prepared for any situation. Travel in groups. Hold tight to your beverage of choice at all times. Don’t binge drink. Do not walk to your car alone at night. Lock your car doors and windows – and the doors and windows to your house. Do NOT answer the front door if you don’t know who the person is or if they just make you uncomfortable. Do not get into a car with a man you don’t know. Do not be free-flowing with personal information about yourself (such as where you live and your phone number) with guys who you’re just getting to know. The list goes on and on.
It goes without saying but I’ll repeat it anyway: You could do all of the above and then some and still end up a victim of a sexual assault – and if it does happen, it is imperative that you understand that it is/was NOT your fault. Unfortunately, there is no “fool-proof” way of avoiding the possibility of something happening to you. But you’ll lessen the chances of it happening if you take precautions. We tell young kids they can’t walk half a block to the store alone because someone might snatch them. We instruct teenagers to run away if someone they don’t know approaches them in a vehicle. These are common sense precautions that no one ever thinks twice about. Why would anyone on earth hesitate to make sure women are given the vital tips they need in order to try and avoid becoming a victim of a violent crime, in addition to continuing to educate young men that they must respect women?
Unlike Ms. Breslaw, I don’t speak out of both sides of my mouth. I really do believe we should do everything we can to prevent future assaults, not just by continuing to instill values at a young age to boys (and girls) that they should respect each other, but also by trying to ensure that women have every available tool at their disposal – both knowledge and physical power – to protect themselves. Nothing “icky” or shameful about it. The phony, warped political correctness behind Breslaw’s “but we’re shaming victims by doing this!!” mentality only serves to create more victims of rape down the road. She might be ok with that, but I’m not.
Los Angeles (CNN) — A California judge ruled as unconstitutional Tuesday the state’s teacher tenure, dismissal and layoff laws, saying they keep bad teachers in the classroom and force out the good ones, the plaintiffs said.
The ruling was hailed by the nation’s top education chief as bringing to California — and possibly the nation — an opportunity to build “a new framework for the teaching profession.” The decision represented “a mandate” to fix a broken teaching system, U.S. Education Secretary Arne Duncan said.
The Los Angeles County court ordered a stay on the decision, pending an appeal by the state and the teachers union, the plaintiffs said.
Reforming teacher tenure and firing laws is a hotly debated issue in American education, and the California case is being watched nationally — evidenced by a statement by Duncan immediately after the court ruling.
Reformers say firing a bad teacher is almost impossible because of tenure laws and union protections, but teachers and their unions argue school boards and their firing criteria have unfair, overtly political standards.
The teachers union is, of course, vowing an appeal. But if this is upheld at higher levels, it’ll be fascinating to see what repercussions it will have on other states where Republicans are battling Democrats in an effort to reform broken education systems – as is the case here in NC. More school children might, I dunno, start learning more instead of just being a warm body occupying a desk just barely making it by from grade to grade. Wouldn’t that be great?
In an editorial published at Bloomberg View - which was adapted off of a commencement speech he gave yesterday at Harvard, Michael Bloomberg makes some surprisingly good points about the intolerance of liberals at colleges across America towards conservative thought (via):
There is an idea floating around college campuses — including here at Harvard — that scholars should be funded only if their work conforms to a particular view of justice. There’s a word for that idea: censorship. And it is just a modern-day form of McCarthyism.
In the 1950s, the right wing was attempting to repress left-wing ideas. Today, on many campuses, it is liberals trying to repress conservative ideas, even as conservative faculty members are at risk of becoming an endangered species.
Perhaps nowhere is that more true than here in the Ivy League. In the 2012 presidential race, 96 percent of all campaign contributions from Ivy League faculty and employees went to Barack Obama. That statistic, drawn from Federal Election Commission data, should give us pause — and I say that as someone who endorsed President Obama. When 96 percent of faculty donors prefer one candidate to another, you have to wonder whether students are being exposed to the diversity of views that a university should offer. Diversity of gender, ethnicity and orientation is important. But a university cannot be great if its faculty is politically homogenous.
In fact, the whole purpose of granting tenure to professors is to ensure that they feel free to conduct research on ideas that run afoul of university politics and societal norms. When tenure was created, it mostly protected liberals whose ideas ran up against conservative norms.
Today, if tenure is going to continue to exist, it must also protect conservatives whose ideas run up against liberal norms. Otherwise, university research will lose credibility. A liberal arts education must not be an education in the art of liberalism.
This spring, it has been disturbing to see a number of college commencement speakers withdraw, or have their invitations rescinded, after protests from students and — to me, shockingly — from senior faculty and administrators who should know better.
It happened at Brandeis, Haverford, Rutgers and Smith. Last year, it happened at Swarthmore and Johns Hopkins. In each case, liberals silenced a voice and denied an honorary degree to individuals they deemed politically objectionable.
As a former chairman of Johns Hopkins, I believe that a university’s obligation is not to teach students what to think, but to teach students how to think. And that requires listening to the other side, weighing arguments without prejudging them, and determining whether the other side might actually make some fair points.
If the faculty fails to do this, then it is the responsibility of the administration and governing body to step in and make it a priority. If they do not, if students graduate with ears and minds closed, the university has failed both the student and society. If you want to know where that leads, look no further than Washington.
PJ Tatler’s Bryan Preston responds:
I am aware that Bloomberg remains a hypocrite on guns who believes that his use of wealth to push his policy preferences whether people want them or not will buy his way into heaven, even though he doesn’t really believe in God. He’s a small man with a gargantuan ego. But when he’s right, he’s right, and in this speech, he’s right. His commencement address is an important one.
Yes. As the old saying goes, a broken clock is right twice a day. While Bloomberg is frequently wrong – more wrong than right, in fact, at least in this instance he hit it on the mark. Well done. For a change.