Don’t buy NEA snake oil

Editor’s note: This is cross-posted from our friend Larry Sand. The NEA is the parent union of the powerful California Teachers Association.

July 24, 2012

By Larry Sand

The teachers union uses bogus numbers to con the public into believing that education needs more funding.

The National Education Association is relentless in its quest to raise taxes. In its latest gambit — “Massive Budget Cuts Threaten America’s Children” — the union claims that “…America’s schools have added 5.4 million students since 2003.” The only documentation for this outlandish number – an 11.1 percent increase – is a link to another article where they state the same fiction.

However, the National Council for Educational Statistics, an organization without an agenda, tells a far different story. NCES says that in 2003-2004 there were 48,540,375 K-12 students enrolled in the nation’s pubic schools. In 2010-2011, that number climbed to 49,484,181, an increase of just under 944,000 students – a 1.9 percent gain.

NEA also tries to convince us that severe spending cuts are dooming our children to an inferior education. But Mike Antonucci offers a realistic look at spending data culled from the U.S. Census Bureau. He came up with a chart which shows that between 2004-2005 and 2009-2010 per student spending increased 22 percent nationwide (9.3 percent after correcting for inflation.)

However, as Antonucci points out, the spending flattened out toward the end of that five year period. And in all likelihood we will be in for a decrease in the near term. But, what must be determined is how spending correlates to student achievement.

Compared to other countries around the world, we are fourth in spending after Luxembourg, Switzerland and Norway. Yet,

“The three-yearly OECD Programme for International Student Assessment (PISA) report, which compares the knowledge and skills of 15-year-olds in 70 countries around the world, ranked the United States 14th out of 34 OECD countries for reading skills, 17th for science and a below-average 25th for mathematics.”

Not much of a correlation there. What about individual states? A recent study about the U.S. failure to close the international achievement gap released by Education Next finds nothing at all convincing.

“No significant correlation was found between increased spending on education and test score gains. For example, Maryland, Massachusetts, and New Jersey posted large gains in student performance after boosting spending, but New York, Wyoming, and West Virginia had only marginal test-score gains to show from increased expenditures.”

Class size

The spendthrift teachers unions and their fellow travelers insist that we need more teachers because small class size is an essential component to a good education, but there is no evidence to back up this assertion. In fact, in a wonderfully contrarian op-ed, Cato Institute’s Andrew Coulson makes his case that “America Has Too Many Teachers” and other school employees.

“Since 1970, the public school workforce has roughly doubled—to 6.4 million from 3.3 million—and two-thirds of those new hires are teachers or teachers’ aides. Over the same period, enrollment rose by a tepid 8.5%. Employment has thus grown 11 times faster than enrollment. If we returned to the student-to-staff ratio of 1970, American taxpayers would save about $210 billion annually in personnel costs.”

Referring to the NAEP tests, also known as the nation’s report card, Coulson says that in spite of the increased workforce,

“These tests, first administered four decades ago, show stagnation in reading and math and a decline in science. Scores for black and Hispanic students have improved somewhat, but the scores of white students (still the majority) are flat overall, and large demographic gaps persist. Graduation rates have also stagnated or fallen. So a doubling in staff size and more than a doubling in cost have done little to improve academic outcomes.”

Ah, but what about the kids who do get lost in larger classes? A story in the Huffington Post addresses this, focusing on a sweet eight year old girl in New York City who is having a tough time in school because, due to budget cuts, her 3rd grade class now has 32 students. To be sure some students are hurt by being in bigger classes. But despite the appeal to sentiment, it is hardly a universal truth.

Teacher-pupil ratio

Hoover Institution senior fellow and economist Eric Hanushek has devoted much of his time studying this issue. In 1998, he released the results of his impressive research.

“Examining 277 separate studies on the effect of teacher-pupil ratios and class-size averages on student achievement, he found that 15 percent of the studies found an improvement in achievement, while 72 percent found no effect at all—and 13 percent found that reducing class size had a negative effect on achievement. While Hanushek admits that in some cases, children might benefit from a small-class environment, there is no way ‘to describe a priori situations where reduced class size will be beneficial.’”

In our fiscally tough times it is more important than ever not to be swayed by emotion, demagoguery, and plain ol’ BS. Americans must do their due diligence and not be conned by the hucksters. And be especially wary of the teachers unions; the snake oil they sell is particularly venomous.

About the author: Larry Sand, a former classroom teacher, is the president of the non-profit California Teachers Empowerment Network  — a non-partisan, non-political group dedicated to providing teachers with reliable and balanced information about professional affiliations and positions on educational issues.



Write a comment
  1. Ulysses Uhaul
    Ulysses Uhaul 24 July, 2012, 20:06

    Are they RAGWUS members?

    Reply this comment
  2. Ted Steele, Associate Prof.
    Ted Steele, Associate Prof. 24 July, 2012, 20:10

    LOL U haul—- hey—- cal watchers—- why would we want to buy NEA snakeoil—??? They only want to educate our brat kids……..


    Reply this comment
  3. Donkey
    Donkey 24 July, 2012, 20:55

    The NEA RAGWUS feeders have taken everything that has worked up to 1988 and changed it with policies and schemes that have failed. They are just another unaccountable RAGWUS bureaucracy. 🙂

    Reply this comment
  4. Rex the Wonder Dog!
    Rex the Wonder Dog! 24 July, 2012, 21:52

    Teddy, allow more time between your sock puppet comment= 4 minutes is a dead give away 😉

    Reply this comment
  5. Ted Steele, Associate Prof.
    Ted Steele, Associate Prof. 24 July, 2012, 22:10

    It’s true poodle– they’re all me………….you’re so smart. Mmmmmmmmmmmmm

    Reply this comment
  6. Ulysses Uhaul
    Ulysses Uhaul 24 July, 2012, 22:29

    Truly sad the RAGWUS hunters are speechless…content analysis, critical thinking….nothing but the same ole boring/stale baloney!

    Reply this comment
  7. Rex The Wonder Dog!
    Rex The Wonder Dog! 25 July, 2012, 01:44

    19 minute spread, busted again, so obvious 🙂

    Reply this comment
  8. Ulysses Uhaul
    Ulysses Uhaul 25 July, 2012, 07:56

    RAGWUS Baggers sick em!

    Reply this comment
  9. Hondo
    Hondo 25 July, 2012, 09:01

    The teachers unions stopped the law that would offer more protection to the kids. It is legally impossible to fire a pedophile teacher in Kalifornia thanks to the teachers union. And the pedophile teachers get to keep their pensions thanx to the unions.
    A tax increase for the ‘kids’ is actually the Pedophile teachers pension protection act.
    Vote early and often.

    Reply this comment
  10. Ted Steele, Associate Prof.
    Ted Steele, Associate Prof. 25 July, 2012, 09:52

    Yeah! There must be millions of pedophile teachers! LOL—–not——–the folks out here come unglued about the very few teacher sex criminals but are ok with the very common problem of mass murder shooting criminals! And of course this group loves to coddle the felons with their loooooong prison sentences for “victimless” crimes! LOL

    What happened to the Republican party????????

    Sad–but funny ™

    Reply this comment
  11. Judi
    Judi 25 July, 2012, 10:03

    The NEA is nothing but another socialist organization that does nothing but require more and more money – like the fat government the socialists/liberal/progressive crowd has already created here in the USA. Whose appetite for wanting even MORE funds is not only insatiable, but whose only purpose is to take even more money from underpaid teachers (through union “dues); as well as more control away from American parents!!! Don’t go for the NEA b.s. line!!! Cut them off!

    Reply this comment
  12. Ulysses Uhaul
    Ulysses Uhaul 25 July, 2012, 10:10

    The party playing golf at Pelican Hill….the steak sandwich is over $20.00 at lunch…..RAGWUS?????

    Reply this comment
  13. Andy
    Andy 25 July, 2012, 15:11

    Is that a pic of Ulysses Ashhaul up there in the corner?

    Reply this comment
  14. Ulysses Uhaul
    Ulysses Uhaul 25 July, 2012, 19:29

    Andy….just when I thought we were friends! See you at the VFW in Orange for an Old Milwaukee. Or would you prefer Montage in Laguna for a Cosmo?

    Reply this comment
  15. Ted Steele, Associate Prof.
    Ted Steele, Associate Prof. 25 July, 2012, 22:07

    LMAO U Haul !! I think these e’fete crimson dandies want some trout burritos and a pitcher of manhattans ……

    Reply this comment
  16. Ulysses Uhaul
    Ulysses Uhaul 25 July, 2012, 23:35

    Pass the Borsin cheese and Bernaise ssuce.

    Reply this comment
  17. Ulysses Uhaul
    Ulysses Uhaul 25 July, 2012, 23:36


    Reply this comment
  18. Rex The Wonder Dog!
    Rex The Wonder Dog! 26 July, 2012, 00:09

    Is that a pic of Ulysses Ashhaul up there in the corner?

    Hahahhaha 🙂

    Reply this comment
  19. Rex The Wonder Dog!
    Rex The Wonder Dog! 26 July, 2012, 00:09

    That is actually Teddy Steals…Oh wait, Teddy and Uhaul are the same, my bad 😉

    Reply this comment
  20. Ted Steele, Associate Prof.
    Ted Steele, Associate Prof. 26 July, 2012, 08:45

    Poodle boi has no idea…..he is certain that I am them….like he was certain about all of his predictions—- of course he’s 0 for 9 at this point !

    Reply this comment

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