Wednesday, October 14, 2015

Fact Checking Doug Ducey and Andrew Morrill

Posted By on Wed, Oct 14, 2015 at 8:35 AM

COURTESY OF COMMONS.WIKIMEDIA.ORG
  • Courtesy of commons.wikimedia.org

The AZ Republic ran two education-related fact checks Tuesday, one on a statement by Gov. Doug Ducey and another on a statement by Arizona Education Association president Andrew Morrill. Ducey's statement was rated No stars: Unsupported. Morrill's statement was rated four stars: True.

I have to admit, Ducey's statement is more misleading than wrong. The Republic gave him no stars because it's based on guesswork, not data. He said during a telephone town hall,
“Arizona will be among the leading states in the nation in new dollars in this slow-growing economy that we’re adding to K-12 education.”
Ducey was referring, of course, to the bump in education funding if his $325 million plan is approved. The problem is, no one knows how much other states will add next year or the years following, so he's just speculating. But the Republic adds at the end of the fact check, "Arizona’s proposed funding increase would likely be at or near the top." Ducey is not so much lying as turning a possibility into a fact.

The bigger problem is, adding $325 million is no reason to proclaim "We're number one!" on anything related to education funding. Even if we add the funding Ducey proposes, we'll still be at or near the bottom of the barrel in per student funding. Actually, his $325 million isn't even new money. It's almost exactly what the courts say the legislature owes the schools by law. Sorry, Doug, if you and the other dead beat dads and moms at the legislature are planning to cough up what you owe for our children's education—and that's without going back and making up for stiffing our children over the past few years—that's nothing to brag about.

For Ducey to make it sound like we're beating other states in education funding makes as much sense as, say, bragging that he wants to get the money moving sooner, not later, when his plan has to make it through the legislature, then be passed by the voters. Best case scenario, if all that happens, the payments will begin in 2017.

HOLD EVERYTHING! STOP THE PRESSES! I just got an email from Daniel Scarpinato, Ducey's communications guy, that says, among other things,
"[Ducey] wants to get this money moving sooner, not later."
Unbelievable. Gotta love these guys. Or, not.

Andrew Morrill's four star statement is, 
"Charter schools in Arizona spend twice as much on administrative functions, by the dollar, as district public schools."
The Republic agrees. "Morrill is correct that Arizona's charter schools spend roughly double what districts do for administration." But maybe Morrill is just jiggering with the numbers. After all, one of the selling points of charter schools is that they're supposed to be more efficient than school districts because they don't have all that bureaucracy and red tape. Let's see what Eileen Sigmund, president of the privately funded Arizona Charter Schools Association, had to say when the Republic asked her to defend charter schools against the charge. See if you can understand the point she's making, because it escapes me.
"Our charter schools are typically much smaller and more streamlined than our district brethren so ... a teacher may have assistant principal duties. There's a splitting of many hats," she said.
Which means, what exactly? Since I know Sigmund is both smart and well spoken, I'm going to assume her non-answer grants Morrill another gold star for accuracy. That's five stars for you, Andrew. None for you, Doug.

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