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education cuts have put the squeeze on teachers who are dealing with larger class sizes, fewer teaching assistants and outdated supplies that have left them dipping into their own pockets to stock their classrooms.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 …