Leftists Peddle Hyperbolic Fake News on State Education Spending

Greg Kline already told you about the fake news that The Seventh State was peddling about I-81 funding and the road kill bill. But sadly their fake news operation has extended to education.

A long piece posted this afternoon goes into great “detail” about the new Education Week report that says Maryland’s schools have “dropped” to 5th in the nation. Of course, the argument that they were #1 to start with was specious, but we will get to that.

So what exactly is fake about this alleged story? Plenty.

Education Week, which ranks public school systems by state, rated Maryland’s public schools as fifth in the nation as of 2017. That’s a decent rank, except when you consider that the publication rated Maryland number one every year from 2009 through 2013. Maryland scored particularly low on its achievement gap between low-income and high-income students, ranked as 42nd in the country.

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Yes, Maryland’s schools were rated #1 during the O’Malley Administration. Except there are a few things you need to know about that ranking. One is the fact that the Education Week rankings cited didn’t rank schools based on educational achievement; they ranked schools on per pupil spending by states on K-12. Even at the time the Baltimore Sun admitted the ranking wasn’t worth a hill of beans.

The second thing you need to remember is that everybody knew that the Education Week ranking was garbage when it came out. We were writing about the disparity between the Education Week ranking and actual education outcomes back in 2013 and the achievement gap in 2011. None of this is new, and the achievement gap has actually been improving under the Hogan Administration. Yet the gap lingered for years on O’Malley’s Watch.

Don’t forget this nugget from the O’Malley Years, too:

The other report, released earlier this week, the State Policy Report Card from Student’s First, led by former Washington, DC Public Schools Chancellor Michelle Rhee, tells another tale.  In that report, Maryland ranks 17th and received a grade of D.  The Student’s First report looks at state education policies from a different perspective, it “does not assess student achievement, school quality, or teacher performance, but rather the policy environments that affect those outcomes.”

That brings us to the other grievances that The Seventh State rolls out.

  1. He cut public school funding in his first budget.

This of course is demonstrably untrue and has been untrue. By any metric imaginable, Governor Larry Hogan budgeted more money for K-12 education in Fiscal Years 2016 and 2017. He also was the first Governor to ever to fully fund GCEI in his first year as Governor. Despite the rhetoric that you hear, these are all demonstrable facts and are beyond debate as even the Washington Post admits. Democratic whining and kvetching about education funding have more to do with projected spending estimates from the O’Malley years that were not sustainable over the longterm due to the structural deficit baked into the budget by mandated spending. Democrats have always lacked credibility on education funding, and continue to do so.

It would probably also help to point out that achievement is not linked to spending.

  1. He withheld teacher pension aid for counties in his second budget.

You may remember that it was the General Assembly that punted teacher pensions to the counties in the first place.

  1. He is jamming public school boards with public school skeptics.

This is a bizarre argument, and the use of “skeptic” here is politically charged. The piece notes that some of the appointees (including Red Maryland alumnus Ann Miller) are not in line with the status quo of education policy here in the state. That’s what this really comes down to. They aren’t “skeptical” about education. They are, however, skeptical about the way education policy has been run in this state for a long time. They are not particularly keen on doing things the way they have always been done in order to keep the Democrats bosses over in the Teachers Unions. The biggest gripe seems to be that fact that these board appointees are friendly toward the idea of charter schools, which of course themselves are actually public schools.

The real gripe with these “skeptics” is not the fact that they are skeptical about the practicality of public education. The gripe is the fact that they dare to consider implementing policies that actually educate children.

  1. He is pushing hard for tax dollars to be sent to private schools.

One of the few factual statements in and of itself in the piece. However again the issue seems to be what the gripe is about. It’s almost like the folks at The Seventh State are afraid that students in low-performing schools might get the opportunity to go to a better school.

And then the piece finishes up with this.

Hogan’s behavior is straight out of the playbook of Donald Trump’s nominee for U.S. Secretary of Education, Betsy DeVos: starve public schools and send the money to the private sector.

Other than a classic case of Trump Obsession, this statement is the textbook definition of hyperbole. The piece notes that Governor Hogan wants to spend $10 million a year on school vouchers. That’s $10 million in a $6.3 billion budget. So the piece throws out apoplectic accusations of “starving public schools to send the money to the private sector” when the Governor’s proposal involves spending 0.16% of K-12 education dollars on private schools.

This entire line of argument from The Seventh State defies logic and shows that they are continuing to credibility-crushing denial of the reality of the situation here in Maryland. Whatever arguments they are making in policy (which themselves are aligned toward protecting union interests instead of promoting student achievement) are immediately blunted by the completely fabricated “evidence” presented to make their arguments. It is understandable that the left is having a hard come coming to grips with Maryland’s new reality and with Governor Hogan’s ever increasing popularity. But it is unfortunate that the radical left is continuing to try to undermine Governor Hogan’s achievements and work toward improving student achievement in our state by promoting outlandish statements as fact and ignoring the damaging legacy of Martin O’Malley and his Democratic colleagues on education policy in Maryland and particularly on the educational achievement of lower-income students. The fact that the Democratic Party let these students down is no excuse for the continued hyperbolic rantings of Democrats who are more concerned with power and protecting union interests than they are in making sure that every student in Maryland has a chance to succeed.

Maryland’s K-12 students deserve better than the fake news being peddled in their name.


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