Government Spending

Workaday Media Bias, and State Budget Crises, Example #2

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Here are the first four paragraphs of an Associated Press article about education spending in California.

Would you fire this man?

California's historic budget crisis threatens to devastate a public education system that was once considered a national model but now ranks near the bottom in school funding and academic achievement.

Deep budget cuts are forcing California school districts to lay off thousands of teachers, expand class sizes, close schools, eliminate bus service, cancel summer school programs, and possibly shorten the academic year.

Without a strong economic recovery, which few experts predict, the reduced school funding could last for years, shortchanging millions of students, driving away residents and businesses, and darkening California's economic future.

"California used to lead the nation in education," U.S. Education Secretary Arne Duncan said during a recent visit to San Francisco. "Honestly, I think California has lost its way, and I think the long-term consequences of that are very troubling."

Not mentioned anywhere in the entire 1,093-word article: "[S]pending for kindergarten through 12th grade education in the Governor's proposed budget for 2008-09 [was] $7.4 billion higher than it was five years ago—and average daily attendance during that same period has declined by 74,000 students." Nor is there uttered the phrase "Proposition 98," which is a 20-year-old law that locks in K-14 education spending at 40 percent of California's budget. Considering that the California budget between 1990-91 and 2008-2009 grew by an average of 5.91 percent, compared to an inflation+population growth rate of 4.38 percent, that has resulted in two decades of robust education funding increases.

More relevant data, care of the Reason Foundation [pdf]:

To read some reports in the media, one might think that education is the perpetual whipping boy of the state budget process. In fact, education spending—for both K-12 and higher education—has seen a steady and significant increase, especially in recent years. From FY 1990-91 to FY 2008-09, General Fund K-12 education spending increased 191.5 percent (6.11 percent a year on average)—a greater rate than the overall General Fund budget grew.

Also not mentioned in the article are the $48.9 billion in school construction/maintenance bonds passed this decade alone (at a time of decreasing enrollment), or that firing teachers is a perennial California scare story, one that almost never results in significant amounts of teachers actually getting fired. (This is due in part to the fact that in many districts, it's nigh on impossible to fire a teacher.) Might this latter factor contribute to California's wretched K-12 academic performance? The article does not dip a toe in any such analysis, relying instead on a two-pronged explanation of slashed funding and under-educatable immigrants:

The unprecedented budget cuts mark a new low for a once highly regarded public school system that began its decline in 1978, when voters approved Proposition 13 […]

about a quarter [of public school students] do not speak English well, and nearly half are considered poor under federal guidelines.

I don't doubt for a second that teaching poor immigrants with ESL needs adds strain to a public education system. But nor do I doubt that in a better world, articles from straight news organizations might sound less like press releases from the California Teachers Association, and more like searching assessments of a complicated issue.

Well, at least the AP story wasn't picked up by 193 news outlets or anything. 

Yesterday's example of workaday media bias here. Also, read the Reason Foundation's great education analyst Lisa Snell talk about California Democrat "budget-cutting" proposals here.

NEXT: Another Isolated Incident

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  1. People laugh when I call it a “state run media” But I would like to know what other than a state run media would produce such crap and call it news.

  2. “Honestly, I think California has lost its way, and I think the long-term consequences of that are very troubling.”

    I don’t think those words mean the same thing to Duncan as they do to me.

  3. Oh man, I haven’t seen Teachers in ages. I forgot Macchio was in it.

    At some point, the politicians are going to decide that axing teachers is one of the few remaining things they can do to save some money. Maybe.

  4. Laura Dern was quite cute back in the day, even with the bad 80s hair.

  5. Welch is just shilling for Big Responsibility.

  6. I’m surprised that you would include an image for “Teachers” and not have it be of the original movie-poster art (featuring an apple with a lit fuse).

  7. Matt,

    Do you often feel like you’re screaming into the wind? I share your frustrastion with the parroting sold as reporting that much of the MSM (I think AP qualifies as MSM) is responsible for.

    Keep it up. At least reasonoids appreciate real numbers and your reporting.

  8. Whenever I think of Laura Dern, my mind instantly jumps to Isabella Rossellini naked.
    Damn you, David Lynch!
    Oh, wait. Bless you, David Lynch!

  9. Everybody* knows the only meaningful measure of success for any government program is the size and growth rate of the budget.

    *If “everybody” is defined as “I”.

  10. And therein lies the difference between the public and the private sector.

    In the public sector, if somebody fails to do their job, they say they aren’t being sufficiently funded to do so, so they jack up spending to the flagging entity.

    In the private sector, if somebody fails to do their job, their supervisor finds somebody who is able to do their job.

  11. “In the private sector, if somebody fails to do their job, their supervisor finds somebody who is able to do their job.”

    Have you seen the private sector lately? There are shitloads of unproductive workers that are kept on and given raises every year. They are kept around for a variety of reasons-they are good looking, they are connected, often just because noone likes to fire anyone…

  12. I’m surprised that you would include an image for “Teachers” and not have it be of the original movie-poster art (featuring an apple with a lit fuse).

    Alas, my Google Image search was on “Nick Nolte” and “Teachers”….

  13. Nick Nolte:

    Worst. Actor. Ever.

    And speaking of actors, this weekend, TCM aired the 1950 film “Father of the Bride” in which Spencer Tracy says to his daughter via the phone, “Do you know what time it is? It’s 4:20!”

    Also saw “The Courtshop of Eddie’s Father (1951?), the film where little Ronnie Howard gets a thermometer shoved up his ass by Shirley Jones. And not only does little Ronnie take it like a man, he demonstrates his professionalism by continuing to deliver his lines until she takes it back out.

    I sure miss the old films!

  14. Courtship

  15. In the public sector, if somebody fails to do their job, they say they aren’t being sufficiently funded to do so, so they jack up spending to the flagging entity.?

    Having worked in the public sector I have two comments.

    1)Often, public sector programs are underfunded.

    2) I have personally been involved in the firing of employees in both private and public settings…not much different. Teachers get fired when they can’t do the job…really.

  16. David Lynch is certainly a mad genius. Sometimes you get the genius (Blue Velvet, Twin Peaks, Mulholland Drive) and sometimes the mad (Inland Empire, Lost Highways)

  17. Sometimes you get the genius

    The Elephant Man, dude. Come on.

  18. David Lynch is certainly a mad genius. Sometimes you get the genius (Blue Velvet, Twin Peaks, Mulholland Drive) and sometimes the mad (Inland Empire, Lost Highways)

    But what do you do with the final episode of Twin Peaks?

  19. I found Lost Highways surprisingly watchable.
    Inland Empire, not so much.
    Oh, and I’m glad I’ve finally seen you (MNG) and Neu on the same thread at the same time. I always suspected a kind of Bruce Wayne/Batman thing was going on.

  20. Episiarch,

    With John “Alien’s Ripping My Guts Open” Hurt?

  21. “Nick Nolte:

    Worst. Actor. Ever.”

    No way. Nick was allright in the day. He was outstanding in North Dallas Forty. That is a seriously underrated movie and book.

  22. At least a couple times a day some driver makes me want to go all Robert Loggia/Lost Highways on their ass.

    “I want you to get a fucking driver’s manual and I want you to study that mother fucker!”

  23. He was outstanding in North Dallas Forty. That is a seriously underrated movie and book.

    I’m not sure I would go with “outstanding” but I definitely agree; North Dallas Forty was a great book/ movie.

  24. Elephant Man is great.

    I actually liked the final episode of Twin Peaks…I think Lynch came back, disgusted with what had been done with the show and the network shenanigans and did the best he could…

    Me and Neu have been on many a thread together, and often in disagreement (see immigration debates)

  25. Lost Highways has some great scenes, but it just doesn’t hang together well imo…

    And the Loggia motorist scene is one of those great ones…

    And every scene with Patricia Arquette (sp?). Lynch does sensuality very well

  26. I’ve always thought NM was a scientist, and so your batman remark in connection with him made me think of this gem:

    “Marge : There’s a man here who says he can help you.
    Homer : Is it Batman?
    Marge : He’s a scientist.
    Homer : Batman’s a scientist.
    Marge : It’s not Batman!”

  27. about a quarter [of public school students] do not speak English well, and nearly half are considered poor under federal guidelines.

    “Half are considered poor.” What if we just give them the fucking money directly? They can, if they wish, use the money to hire English tutors. Everybody wins. (Other than unionized “educators” that is.)

  28. “What if we just give them the fucking money directly?”

    I’m not sure the same parents who can’t be counted on to feed their kids breakfast before school, make them go to bed at a decent time the night before school, etc., are going to make the best choices in selecting their kids schools…Just saying.

  29. I am a scientist.
    I am not Batman.

    sincerely,
    Anthony Edward Stark

  30. That’s just what Batman WOULD say…

  31. Citizen Nothing,

    Don’t make me angry.
    You wouldn’t like me when I am angry.

    Sincerely,
    Bruce Banner

  32. “Half are considered poor.” What if we just give them the fucking money directly? They can, if they wish, use the money to hire English tutors. Everybody wins. (Other than unionized “educators” that is.)”

    Think about this for a second. Some guy made millions selling tapes to teach children how to read called “hooked on phonics”. We spend hundreds of billions of dollars on elementary education in this country. Yet despite this, there is still a huge market to teach kids how to read. Worse still, all the tapes did was use the old tried and true method that our education geniuses had thrown away in the 1970s.

  33. Dudes, seriously Reed Richards is the greatest scientist…

  34. “I’m not sure the same parents who can’t be counted on to feed their kids breakfast before school, make them go to bed at a decent time the night before school, etc., are going to make the best choices in selecting their kids schools…Just saying.”

    I am not sure MNG, but you might be an elitist fuck who has no respect for anyone. Just saying. Further, considering the state of our current schools, how exactly will these idiot masses do any worse of a job making choices for themselves?

  35. John
    The best way to teach a child to read is to shame them into it. Everybody knows that, c’mon!

  36. MNG:

    “Have you seen the private sector lately? There are shitloads of unproductive workers that are kept on and given raises every year.”

    You’ve just described the UAW.

  37. John
    You don’t have to be an elitist to know that a lot of the poor have serious issues. Giving them checks and telling them to go use it for their kids education would be a serious mistake. Education could be waaaay worse in this nation, use your imagination.

  38. Personally, I won’t be satisfied until I can force the poor to do my bidding.

  39. Pro L
    You can often trick them into doing your bidding though. Give it a try!

  40. “Giving them checks and telling them to go use it for their kids education would be a serious mistake. Education could be waaaay worse in this nation, use your imagination.”

    We have mandatory attendence policies. Further, the lazy parents would just send their kids to the public schools anyway. In addition, for every parent who would make a bad choice, there are 1000s who would make the right choice. Even the ones who made bad choices or no choices would benefit from public schools actually having to listen to and respond to parents who care. As it is, we have a trillion dollar education bureaucracy that couldn’t care less about the needs of parents and children and are totally unresponsive to any urge beyond pushing moonbat leftist indoctrination and protecting their turf. No, letting parents make choices could only improve education. I will take the choices of the dumbest crack whore over the choices of the education bureaurcracy.

  41. Yes, perhaps we libertarians should attempt to trick and bribe the poor into voting our way. Hmmm.

  42. “I don’t doubt for a second that teaching poor immigrants with ESL needs adds strain to a public education system.”

    We have a winner!

  43. The poor should be eaten, not enslaved. A human slaughterhouse would be a major economic coup for Taintsville.

  44. Yes, perhaps we libertarians should attempt to trick and bribe the poor into voting our way. Hmmm.

    Well, we are a bunch of monocle-sporting plutocrats, wot? Why not use our ill-gotten capital for evil?

    The poor should be eaten, not enslaved.

    You’re just shilling for Big Kuru.

  45. Trickery and bribery don’t work too well when what your offering is reality, brutal honesty and the requirement of personal responsibility.

  46. Have you seen the private sector lately? There are shitloads of unproductive workers that are kept on and given raises every year. They are kept around for a variety of reasons-they are good looking, they are connected, often just because noone likes to fire anyone…

    And our president and Congress gives them billions of dollars for it!!!!!!

  47. The unprecedented budget cuts mark a new low for a once highly regarded public school system that began its decline in 1978, when voters approved Proposition 13

    When you look at per pupil funding adjusted for inflation, this makes as much since as

    The unprecedented budget cuts mark a new low for a once highly regarded public school system that began its decline in 1978, when voters approved Proposition 13 the first Susan B. Anthony Dollar was minted.

  48. MNG,

    “Have you seen the private sector lately? There are shitloads of unproductive workers that are kept on and given raises every year.”

    Not without a whole lot of rent seeking based on hooking up with politicians and government agencies. When you see that sort of thing then you are bound to see all manner of government protections in place to maintain those jobs. Of course, over the medium and long term it is always a futile endeavor; to analogize, an airplane can only stay in the air so long in other words before the force of gravity wins out.

  49. MNG,

    As for education funding, whatever the case may be about the benefits and costs of direct funding, it is the case that infantalizing people – which is what basically the government does with the poor – is always going to lead to rather undesirable results. Of course, one could very reasonably argue that it is in the interests of the agencies involved to act that way.

  50. “[S]pending for kindergarten through 12th grade education in the Governor’s proposed budget for 2008-09 [was] $7.4 billion higher than it was five years ago – and average daily attendance during that same period has declined by 74,000 students.”

    Doesn’t fit the narrative. Isn’t in the manual of style.

    Teachers: poor, underpaid, underappreciated, overworked.
    School system: Chronically underfunded.
    Education outcomes: Women and minorities hardest hit.
    Solution: Increased budgets, more teachers, higher pay, no right-wing ‘merit pay’.

  51. Avoid the products of union labor. That includes public school students and GM cars.

  52. brotherben:

    There are a similar number of teachers here in California also paid to do nothing… I think that article talks about that (just had to skim it).

    Which brings me to my second point,

    NM, you’re full of it. That does not happen in the private sector – and certainly not on the scale that it happens here. It sure as hell wouldn’t happen in a free-market setting, as companies who are paying for lousy workers to sit on their asses would quickly go out of business… Find me an example of this happening in the private sector absent some government bailout or perverse incentive and I may concede that you have a point even remotely worth considering.

    MNG: Being condescending is awesome and all, but maybe you should give poor people a little more credit.

  53. Sean W. Malone, re: the reading assignment you gave me. It has me looking back in the other direction. Thank you.

  54. Sweet… I might also recommend Walter William’s “The State Against the Blacks”, which might more broadly be called “the state against poor people living in inner cities”, if you want to actually get outraged 😛

  55. “Not without a whole lot of rent seeking based on hooking up with politicians and government agencies.”

    Oh, that’s hogwash. Plenty of enterprises make it with quite a few less than fully productive and competent employees.

  56. The state certainly has been terrible to “the blacks” lately. I mean, in 1950 over half of black families were below the poverty line, now it’s yearly around 20-25%. The horror, the horror!

  57. Thanks, outrage=catharsis for me.

  58. That’s cute MNG… It’s nice that you no longer even bother to make any arguments at all.

    One might expect the poverty level to go down to 20-25% compared to 50% in the absence of Jim Crow laws and the increase in social acceptance, but one might think that that number would continue to decline past the 1980s. Yet… Umm… It hasn’t.

    The projects were a good thing right?

  59. May I remind everyone that in the movie featured in the post’s picture, Nick Nolte’s character had “tenure” and couldn’t be fired. He could have shagged one of this students rotten, and probably would have kept his job.

  60. This is what happens when you mess with socialism. Tell people that no matter what they do, how badly they act, or who they hurt, or

    how lazy they are… They are guaranteed the minimums to life for doing nothing. Food (food stamps via welfare) and Shelter (housing

    assistance via section 8 and welfare), without having to excerpt any effort… Of course they won’t work! They have no incentive to

    even TRY. It is now at the point where you have a better quality of life sitting at home cashing checks, than actually going out and

    getting a job.

    If you have low or no income of your own, you get access to cheaper housing programs, cheaper housing loans, discounts on utilities,

    free healthcare, free dental, free vision insurance. People that are out there working 60+ hours a week don’t have access to any of

    these. People that are working 60+ hours a week, suffer in pain because they don’t have free medical and dental. People that lay on a

    couch watching oprah are fully cared for. Why are we rewarding the Lazy and incompetant, and punishing those that work as hard as they

    can? Why should the people working 60+ hours a week, have to pay for the leech that sits there doing nothing all day?

    After years of giving more and more to those unwilling to work, they always demand more. So who do you take it from? The middle class

    and upper class. After years of pillaging these funds from the middle class, you turn them into the lower class. The upper class, those

    with the ability to recognize they are being raped by their own government, will get up and leave, as they have the ability.

    Welcome to California, this state is a prime example of ‘entitlement’ and what it will do to a civilized country. Everyone in the state

    feels they are entitled to a high quality of life, despite not doing anything to achieve it. They milked the middle class untill it was

    impossible to survive there. California became a state that even if you earned 200k a year, you still couldn’t afford a house. They

    then started milking the companies for the tax base they needed, what happened? They got up and left. The state is now in a crisis that

    it wont soon recover from.

    What would happen to a wild bear if you secured it in your house, fed it and cared for it for years? It would depend solely on YOU for

    sustinance. It may act appreciative at first, but when feeding time comes, it expects you to provide. When the time comes that you can

    no longer afford to pay for its food, There are only 2 possible outcomes. 1 – It has lost its will to survive, and will perish, being

    unable to obtain food on its own anymore because it simply forgot how, or 2 – it will select you as its next dish… This is where we

    are at now, we have millions of people that forgot how to survive on their own, and are now depending on others to feed them… Guess

    what? Most of the others can no longer afford it, and those that can, are no longer willing.

    You are now stuck with a very large population of looters and leaches, those that feel entitled to everything they need and want

    without having to work for it, and no population base left to pillage to pay for it. Will these people learn how to survive on their

    own? Not likely… The most likely situation is that they will immolate anyone they feel *can* pay for them. The few people left that

    are capable of it will be destroyed in order to to satisfy the leeches.

    No one should be left with starvation as the only possible outcome, but, anyone that wishes to suck at the government teet should be

    required to work 40 hours a week, just like everyone else. This work should be hard and degrading, they should WANT to get off the

    government teet. It doesn’t matter what (if any) disabilities they have, everyone can do SOMETHING. From data entry, to punching

    license plates, to answering phones… Everyone is capable of SOMETHING.

    Fellons, those that steal large amounts from others can’t vote or own guns…. Why should a leech of a different type be treated any

    differently?

    If this message offends you… Ask yourself, Are you a leech, or a producer?

  61. Nolte in that photo looks oddly familiar.

  62. MNG,

    Oh, that’s hogwash. Plenty of enterprises make it with quite a few less than fully productive and competent employees.

    And those companies fail without government support.

    The U.S. auto companies are a very good example of this actually. They should have failed or radically changed in the 1980s; but they were allowed to continue in significant part because of government measures – such as “voluntary” import controls. Fast forward a couple of decades later and of course the problem is even worse.

    As for “the blacks,” well, I would just note that to the best of my knowledge the rate of “unimpoverishment” (neologism I realize) was relatively steady throughout the 20th century, except for the 1930s, when New Deal programs (sometimes by design and sometimes not) forced black workers out of their jobs. There is why blacks at the time called the NRA the Negro Removal Act.

  63. I wanted to find some quotes related to this happening in the US – which I’m pretty sure Williams has written about as well, but there’s this from “Minimum Wage, Maximum Folly”:

    Two important surveys of academic economists were reported in two issues of the American Economic Review, May 1979 and May 1992. In one survey, 90 percent, and in the other 80 percent, of economists agreed that increasing the minimum wage causes unemployment among youth and low-skilled workers.

    Minimum wages can have a more insidious effect. In research for my book “South Africa’s War Against Capitalism” (1989), I found that during South Africa’s apartheid era, racist unions, who’d never admit blacks, were the major supporters of higher minimum wages for blacks.

    Gert Beetge, secretary of South Africa’s avowedly racist Building Worker’s Union, in response to contractors hiring black workers, said, “There is no job reservation left in the building industry, and in the circumstances I support the rate-for-the-job [minimum wages] as the second best way of protecting our white artisans.” Racists recognized the discriminatory effects of mandated minimum wages.

  64. Sean W.

    I said

    Teachers get fired when they can’t do the job…really.

    I can only go with personal experience.
    Having fired teachers because they couldn’t do their job…and having helped get superiors fired because they couldn’t do their job, I know that, in fact, that teachers do not, generally, have any more job security than those in the private sector if they can’t produce.

    YUMV

  65. The unprecedented budget cuts mark a new low for a once highly regarded public school system that began its decline in 1978, when voters approved Proposition 13

    Not sure what he means by “once” highly regarded but in 1958-1960 my brother and I lost two years in the Barstow, California school system, because when we moved there in the 2nd and 6th grade we were that far ahead. Barstow banks wouldn’t hire local high school graduates because they didn’t have the necessary math skills to count cash. Luckily my parents got us out of there as soon as Dad retired. We moved to Texas, and catching up was a bitch.

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