January 16, 2009

The Union Executive's Projection

Justin Katz

This is classic Crowley:

Repeat the lie. Repeat the lie. Repeat the lie. No matter how wrong, no matter how damaging. Repeat the lie. This must be posted in the Projo editorial room somewhere:

The lie.

Crowley's first step to this particular platform was finding a bit of data that looks, in the light of a flickering 20-watt bulb, as if it might support the contrarian notion that taxpayers are actually moving in to Rhode Island. He then ignored arguments that his finding was, at best, incomplete. And before you know it, he's accusing of outright lies those who dare to restate the common (and accurate) knowledge that taxpayers (and people, too) are leaving the state.

You've heard the old home remedy that faking a mental illness means you don't really have it? Well, Pat's version is to point the finger at his opposition to distract from his own offensives.

Just the other day, when asked what "the teachers" would say to a particular argument, I referred to a year-old letter from Mr. Crowley claiming that "the cost of teaching has risen slower than overall inflation." His conclusion was that "it isn't teachers and their exorbitant salaries driving the costs" of local education. I pointed out at the time that, when one teased out the component of "instructional expenditures" that actually goes to teachers, it increased well over inflation, and at the expense of such other items as technology and instructional materials. There's something perverse about leveraging the decline in spending on an item from which teachers' ever-growing remuneration has been draining funds to suggest that contracts haven't been shifting in their favor.

Well, here he goes again:

According to the Rhode Island Department of Education, we are spending less and less of our education budgets on teachers and instruction over the last several years. For example, in 2004, 56.7% of statewide spending on education went to classroom instruction. In 2007, that number fell to only 51.7% of statewide spending, a drop of 5%. ...

What does that mean? Well, it means that spending on classroom teachers, their salaries and benefits, are not the things that are driving the cost of education. It also means that the items contained in collective bargaining are not the cost drivers. In fact, spending on teachers is not even keeping up with inflation. In 2004, total statewide spending on education was $1,795,090,933. By 2007, the number had risen 14% to $2,088,669,861. But instructional spending rose from $1,018,276,109 to $1,079,576,386, a rise of only 6%.

In actuality, from 2004 (PDF) to 2007 (PDF), the statewide per-student spending on "instructional teachers" (as opposed to the broader "instruction") actually rose $880, from $5,490 to $6,370, or 16%. Both the size of the expenditure and its increase are greater than any other item — or category — on the list of education expenditures.

So, as Crowley complains that spending on instruction hasn't risen in keeping with the rest of education spending, he ignores the fact that teachers claim an increasing percentage of that pie:

A broader investigation of expenditure data would make for a worthwhile discussion, if anybody wishes actually to engage in it.

Comments, although monitored, are not necessarily representative of the views Anchor Rising's contributors or approved by them. We reserve the right to delete or modify comments for any reason.

DON'T forget too that municipal expenditures to the state pension fund are going up every year, I believe by double-digits. In most (if not all) municipalities in Rhode Island, teachers are in the state pension system, but not other employees. So that municipal outlay to the state pension fund is 100% teacher.

That is part of teacher remuneration, and I suspect is not included in Crowley's sliced and diced figures.

Given that there's a circa seven billion dollar shortfall in the state pension fund, and "Baby Boomer" teachers are poised to retire en masse, those municipal contributions are about to skyrocket, and so with it teacher remuneration is about to skyrocket.

We're going to have thousands, if not tens of thousands of retired (non-working) teachers getting 50 / 60 / 70 thousand dollars a year (or more) from us taxpayers, for the remainder of their lives.

And since the ones hired before 1995 have no minimum retirement age, that "remainder of their lives" can extend several decades, in some cases longer than they actually worked!

Posted by: Tom W at January 16, 2009 7:20 AM

Another excellent piece, Justin.
I double checked your numbers (as I often do with statistics) and then went to check Mr. Crowley's.

Let's just say from an academic standpoint, there's no comparison.

Posted by: anonymous at January 16, 2009 7:40 AM

"Repeat the lie. Repeat the lie. Repeat the lie. No matter how wrong, no matter how damaging. Repeat the lie."

Huh. Sounds like he forgot to stop chanting his mantra that morning.

Posted by: Monique at January 16, 2009 7:54 AM

If Crowley told me what time it was, I'd ask someone else.

Posted by: Mike Cappelli at January 16, 2009 9:48 AM

Monique, you beat me to the punch! AUM, AUM.

Well, if there's anyone whose an expert at lying repeatedly, it would be Pat Crowley. See, when Pat says a lie, it's only another type of truth, right? Comparing Justin's research, with Pat's selective use of statistics, is not even remotely comparable. It's like comparing apples to hand grenades.

I honestly don't know if Pat actually believes all the stuff he says over there, or if he's a simple propagandist who will literally say anything in an attempt to advance his left wing agenda. I tend to think it's the latter.

Posted by: Will at January 16, 2009 12:13 PM

Anyone who thinks Crowley is stupid and easily dismissed is in danger. Will is right. Crowley is a clever, conniving liar, swindler and scumbag who will stop at nothing to advance his movement.

If slashing the tires of every member of every school committee in the state would send an effective message to back off the unions he'd send a thug out to every driveway tonight. He's a big fan of those tactics and he's sorely disappointed that he missed the heyday of the unions where carrying a sledgehammer and a gun were common practice for someone in the intimidation profession.

Posted by: Greg at January 16, 2009 12:20 PM

>>I honestly don't know if Pat actually believes all the stuff he says over there, or if he's a simple propagandist who will literally say anything in an attempt to advance his left wing agenda. I tend to think it's the latter.

The behavior of the teachers "repressing taxpayer dissent" at the EP school committee meeting renders pertinent two quotes from one of NEARI's spiritual predecessors:

“The most brilliant propagandist technique will yield no success unless one fundamental principle is borne in mind constantly - it must confine itself to a few points and repeat them over and over.”

“If you tell a lie big enough and keep repeating it, people will eventually come to believe it. The lie can be maintained only for such time as the State can shield the people from the political, economic and/or military consequences of the lie. It thus becomes vitally important for the State to use all of its powers to repress dissent, for the truth is the mortal enemy of the lie, and thus by extension, the truth is the greatest enemy of the State”

-- Joseph Goebbels

Posted by: Tom W at January 16, 2009 4:44 PM

I saw Crowley on the news tonight, and I thought this was what you are talking about with "repeat the lie, repeat the lie" when he said that it's been proven that the people of RI on the side of the teachers and not the school committee.

Clearly if the only people he's asking are NEARI members, then yeah, the people are on his side. But everywhere else I look, Projo, Turnto10 or other local sites, the people are strongly on the side of the school committee. No question.

"Repeat the lie. Repeat the lie. Repeat the lie."

Posted by: pitcher at January 16, 2009 5:55 PM

Crowley and his ilk will say and do anything to capture the gold ring. They constantly keep their eye on the prize. The end not only justifies the means it justifies ANY means. He would sell out his own mother. BTW there were plenty of correctional officers, plumbers and many other union hacks they could find at the East Providence School Committee meeting. Without a crowd behind him, Crowley is a coward.

Posted by: bobc at January 16, 2009 6:49 PM

The obsession continues. Just because I point out again and again and again that your math is wrong Justin doesn't mean you can't keep trying.

Posted by: Pat Crowley at January 16, 2009 8:22 PM

Ommmm .....

Posted by: Ragin' Rhode Islander at January 16, 2009 11:08 PM

Don't waste your time getting dragged into a debate on specific elements / minutia of out of control education spending. It is good enough to know that Mr. Crowley has a long and proven track record of being WRONG all things financial and mathmatical.

Mr. Crowley's "year-old letter" to which you refer is what earned him the nick-name Patrick "I struggle with basic Math" Crowley!

In his letter, the moron wrote the following:

"Between the years 2000 and 2006, inflation rose by a rate of 19.91% (www.inflationdata.com ). Over the same years, according to the In$ite reports completed by the Rhode Island Department of Education (www.RIDOE.org), Instruction Expenditures, including the costs for instructional teachers, substitutes, instructional paraprofessionals, pupil use technology, and instructional materials and trips, rose by 19.8%.
Yes, you read that right: the cost of teaching has risen slower than overall inflation. Since this line item includes the labor costs of teaching, including wages and benefits, the argument that it is the teachers driving the increase in costs falls apart."

Well, Mr. Crowley was right when he noted that instruction expenditures rose a massive 19.80%, growing from $854,546,811 for the twelve month period ending June 2001 to $1,023,757,161 for the twelve month period ending June 2006.

However, Mr.Crowley was WRONG (lying?) when he wrote that the inflation rate over the same period was 19.91%.

As usual, Mr. Crowley (and his union) was dead wrong on the facts.

Specifically, he wrongly compared five years of spending growth (June 2001 to June 2006) to seven years of inflation (January 2000 to January 2007).

In fact, the inflation rate from June 2001 to June 2006 (the period over which the instruction expenditure’s growth was measured) rose 13.99%, which is no where close to the 19.91% Mr. Crowley crowed about. Go to www.inflationdata.com and request the calculation from June 2001 to June 2006 to confirm the 13.99% rate.

In typical fashion, the facts are just the opposite of what the moron asserted. The cost of teaching has in fact risen far in excess of the rate of inflation ...42% faster than the rate of inflation.

And it only makes sense given that better than half the teachers receive unsustainable annual salary increases that range from 7% - 19%.

Most telling (and frightening) is that the people teaching our students how to do math buy into this garbage.

Posted by: George Elbow at January 16, 2009 11:37 PM

George Elbow:

Has it occurred to you that by making the arguments a personal attack on Pat Crowley, you're doing what his rhetoric is designed to get you to do?

Rise above, bud. He's just a guy gone wrong — more deserving of sympathy than ire. Let's just point out where he's wrong (or not being entirely honest) and allow the arguments to stand for themselves.

Posted by: Justin Katz at January 18, 2009 9:10 PM
Post a comment

Remember personal info?

Important note: The text "http:" cannot appear anywhere in your comment.