LJWorld.com weblogs Elections 2014

Davis still exaggerating teacher layoff claims


Rep. Paul Davis, D-Lawrence, the presumptive Democratic nominee for governor, reportedly claimed again last week that school funding cuts under Gov. Sam Brownback's administration have led to "thousands" of teacher layoffs, a claim that has already been shown to be greatly exaggerated.

According to a report in the Kansas City Star, Davis reasserted that claim last Wednesday during a fundraising event in Johnson County.

But even after Brownback compared education to defense spending in his first State of the State speech — a comparison Davis agreed with — the governor submitted a budget the next day with what the Democrat called the largest cut in school spending in state history.

The result: thousands of teacher layoffs and a myriad of school fees that parents must pay.

“This is foolishness,” said Davis, adding that it’s “not who we are as a people. It’s time for us to get things right.”

Although the story itself did not put quote marks around the phrase, Star reporter Steve Kraske confirmed in an email that Davis used the word "thousands" in reference to teacher layoffs.

Davis made a similar claim when he gave the Democratic response to Brownback's State of the State address in January, and the Journal-World reported afterward that the claim was greatly exaggerated.

According to official state data, only 811 teachers lost their jobs due to a "reduction in force" between 2009 and 2013.

Because Brownback didn't come into office until January 2011, only 201 of those can actually be attributed to his tenure in office - those that occurred in the 2011-2012, and the 2012-2013 academic years.

Layoffs, of course, are not the only way to reduce the size of a workforce. Many districts used attrition during the Great Recession - not replacing teachers who retired, changed careers or moved out of the area.

Since Brownback became governor, the total number of full time equivalent teachers employed in public schools has actually grown slightly, from 34,074.8 in his first full year in office, to 34,772.8 this year. That is still below the pre-recession number of 34,978.8 during the 2008-2009 school year.

Officials from Davis' campaign did not return phone calls made last week seeking comment. Davis himself said this week that he would have his office share with the Journal-World the information on which the claim was based, but so far we've not received it.


Dave Trabert 4 years ago

Mr. Davis' comments are not even close to being accurate. The staffing report referenced in that story makes that very clear. The staffing report in the story is tracking the reasons given for departure; this KSDE data comes from their total staffing reports. Reductions in force could be for budgetary reasons but they can also be caused by enrollment changes; a district may need fewer teachers in one grade but more in others. Tracking total staffing accounts for such changes and shows even greater distortions from the picture painted by Mr. Davis.

FY 2009 total teachers = 35,438.0 FY 2010 total teachers = 34,996.7 FY 2011 total teachers = 34,331.5 FY 2012 total teachers = 34,074.8 FY 2013 total teachers = 34,389.9 FY 2014 total teachers = 34,772.8

Using the reporter's time frames, there were 1,106.5 teachers lost in FY 2010 and FY 2011. Since then, 441.3 teachers have been added. In fact, the number of teachers increased in 2013 and in 2014.

A similar pattern exists for non-teachers.

FY 2009 total non-teachers = 34.971.4 FY 2010 total non-teachers = 34,850.4 FY 2011 total non-teachers = 33,854.2 FY 2012 total non-teachers = 33,785.2 FY 2013 total non-teachers = 34,169.9 FY 2014 total non-teachers = 34,776.1

There were 1,117.2 non-teachers lost in FY 2010 and FY 2011 but districts have since added 911.9. All numbers represent full time equivalents.

KSDE personnel reports can be found at http://www.ksde.org/Agency/FiscalandAdministrativeServices/SchoolFinance/ReportsandPublications.aspx#Personnel

By the way, while districts reduced total employment by 2,223.7 in FY 2010 and FY 2011, they also used $169.1 million of state and local tax dollars to increase their carryover cash reserves in their operating funds. http://www.kansasopengov.org/SchoolDistricts/CarryoverCashBalance/StatewideCarryoverCashbyMajorCategory/tabid/1543/Default.aspx

Thomas Bryce Jr. 4 years ago

So, The amount of teachers lost from 2009-2014 is 665(Hundreds) and the total amount of all positions lost is 2,224(Thousands) all from your own stats. Mr Davis may have used the wrong word, but I know what he meant and I forgive his "exaggeration". I think even Dr. Sagan("Billions and Billions of Galaxies..") would forgive him.

Steve King 4 years ago

I have no problem with what Mr Davis said. I understand what he meant.

So Dave? How's that court case turning out for you? Feeling a little embarrassed you've been involved in the spin when the courts said you were wrong?

Dave Trabert 4 years ago

Actually, we're very pleased with the court decision. The court did not say that more money must be put into the system; the legislature must deal with the two equity issues but the court clearly said that spending more money is just one way to resolve them. Changing adequacy from the "actual cost" basis to providing the minimum required to meet the Rose standards is a huge victory for students and citizens. Now the primary focus will be on outcomes rather than money. Money still matters, of course, but it's not the determining factor.

You can read my commentary on the court decision at http://www.kansaspolicy.org/KPIBlog/115773.aspx

On the original matter of employment, here's a little historical perspective. Between 1993 (the first year of the current school formula) and 2014, enrollment increased 6%, teachers increased 17% and non-teachers increased 42%. Since 2005, enrollment increased 4%, teachers increased 6% and non-teachers increased 12%. These facts and a lot more will be in our 2014 Public Education Fact Book that should be out next week.

Mark Rainey 4 years ago

Why is "Dave" involved in our Government? What are his qualifications, motivations? Where does he get his money to live? He appears to be an authority in many areas of our state from education, to wind turbines, to pipelines.

James Howlette 4 years ago

He's an authority on how to take dark money from the Kochs and turn it into biased research and talking points for conservative politicians. http://stinktanks.org/

His qualifications are that he's a libertarian "true believer" that managed a string of failing TV stations before they got bought out by some other network. That means he, in theory, knows the sorts of things that play well to news outlets, although his social media skills seem to be wanting.

Dave Trabert 4 years ago

Ad hominem attacks and false accusations are no substitute for a civil discussion of the facts. Should I take it from your response that you find no factual errors in the information I shared?

James Howlette 4 years ago

I was responding to someone else's question in this thread, Dave. I don't always have time to spin-check your posts.

Since this is now the game we're apparently playing, should I take your personally crafted reply that fell short of directly accusing me of making false accusations as an admission that you don't actually find any factual errors in the information I shared?

Dave Trabert 4 years ago

Of course not. Stinktanks is a shameless piece of propaganda that is the epitome of ad hominem attacks. The TV stations that I managed were all in far better financial shape that before I assumed responsibility for them. All but one had very strong profits. One of them was losing a lot of money when I was brought in to turn it around; we got it fixed so the owner could sell it at a good profit.

Yes, I understand communications but I also have a background in accounting, budgeting and financial management.

James Howlette 4 years ago

"Shameless propaganda" cries the local SPN and ALEC rep as he plugs the report his "stink tank" is churning out to advance their lobbying efforts. http://tinyurl.com/ndt5dhg

"Better financial shape" is a great euphemism. In my experience, it usually means a short-term solution to make everything look good on paper by laying off a bunch of people and neglecting any maintenance, as it will be the next guy's problem to figure out how to actually make money off of the thing after it changes hands. Better ratings? Award winning? Rated "best place to work?" It's telling what metrics people use to describe their records. While "financial shape" is certainly a logical choice for someone in your position, it highlights the problem with your authority and motives for shaping public policy.

"Better financial shape" took the form of laying off 40 people at WYTV right before you left. At KAKE they replaced you with someone who had a reputation for turning around "underperforming" networks. Not exactly bragging material.

From what I can see, your background does make you perfect for the Koch's lobbying purposes, but it makes you a very lousy source for the public at large. States are about the common good, not laying off people and deferring maintenance so you can sell it to the next guy.

Dave Trabert 4 years ago

The WYTV turnaround resulted from stopping a multi-year downward trend in revenue and having consistent revenue gains. Employment increased while I was at WYTV. Those layoffs were implemented by the new owner who combined the operation of WYTV with another station they owned in the market. At KAKE, the better financial condition came from moving from #3 to #1 in local and regional revenue in the market. The entire group was sold shortly thereafter and the new owner decided they wanted their own people in management positions at many of the stations, which is rather common in television.

But most important, you still have found no factual inaccuracies in the information I shared, despite giving you the link to the raw data. Your ad hominem attacks may play well in certain circles but they do nothing to solve problems.

James Howlette 4 years ago

Deflect blame all you want about those ratings slippages and layoffs, but they happened under your watch. The new team at KAKE even remarked that they needed to hire positions you'd neglected and offer programming instead of infomercials. Bet infomercials really help the old revenue stream. They just don't help the viewers. Meanwhile, you still haven't backed off from using profit margins as your only success metric. Telling. Very telling.

I don't really care to fact check your numbers for you. I'm sure they came "from a government source." Davis hasn't gotten back with whatever logic he was using, so I have no context with which to evaluate it. I'm not sure you really want to get out the scales and weigh lies between Davis and Brownback. But then again, maybe you do. What you post is almost always technically accurate but misleadingly framed. Sort of like telling us that most drownings come within a week of eating an ice cream cone. You tend to be the equivalent of Paul Ryan's fake school lunch story. Full of data, but leaves an empty soul.

Right now I've got paying work to finish, and unlike you, my paying work isn't to come here and post on behalf of dark-money financed lobbying groups that falsely claim an educational mission.

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