WRAL Concerned About #WCPSS ‘Student Growth’

In the last week, there have been a number of articles about student growth in Wake County Schools.

Some of these articles focused on what role Wake schools play in boosting the local economy. These articles, in my opinion, are laying a narrative groundwork for a coming bond proposal or tax increase.

We already know the Wake County Commissioners are ready to raid our wallets and have already given Wake County schools more money. It’s not enough, they will claim as they point to articles like the one I am about to deconstruct.

These articles are running skewed narratives that utilized cherry picked data. Case in point, WRAL’s latest piece has this nugget in it:

The Wake County Public School System, the largest in the state, is growing more slowly than predicted, and that could mean a budget blow for schools.

The Board of Education meets Tuesday afternoon with student enrollment projections and the third-quarter budget forecast on the agenda.

According to the published budget, Wake public schools enrolled 155,184 students in 2014-15 and spent an average of $8,856 on each. Over the past five years, the student population has grown by about 13 percent while per-pupil spending has been on the decline.

With student population expected to take a dip, the board could see their state and county budget allotments do the same.

Note the per pupil spending number and the characterization that per pupil spending as Cherry Picking Is badbeing “on the decline”.

Yeah… no, not really.

WRAL seems to be parroting the cherry picking of data previously done by the News and Observer.

Bob Luebke at Civitas explained this back in January of this year:

For the first three years of this period (2008-09 to 2010-11), Democrats – not Republicans – were a majority on the Wake County Board of Commissioners and largely wrote the county budget. As you can see from the Table II, during that time period, local per-student expenditures actually declined 12.6. percent.
It is true that after Republicans took over the majority on the Board of Wake County Commissioners in 2010, the first year (2011-12) the local per student expenditures for WCPSS declined 6 percent. But overall, when Republicans were in control, local per student expenditures went up 3.4 percent and local per student expenditures for the last two years (2012-13 and 2013-14) actually exceeded $2,146, the level of 2010-11, the last year when Democrats essentially wrote the county budget.

Three funding sources make up per pupil spending: State, Federal and Local.

State and local spending have not really dropped, in fact state and local level spending rose. If you continue on in Luebke’s article, he points out the drop has been in federal dollars.

If editors are so focused on budget cuts they might have noticed that since 2010-11 Federal per-student expenditures have declined 30 percent. Has anyone heard any criticism of the feds? The N&O doesn’t point this out. In fact, as the table below shows, after the onset of the recession, total per-pupil spending remained remarkably stable. And the worst cuts came under Democratic control.

010115 Per Pupil Spending - Luebke article

Source: Data from Statistical Profile Online, available at:http://apps.schools.nc.gov/pls/apex/f?p=1:1:0

Federal funding dropped 16.80%.

These type of articles also serve another purpose, which is to attack school choice. Meanwhile, they are ignoring the multiple underlying causes of why parents are running for the exits of the public school system.

School safety is a big and increasing concern of parents as is the way the Wake Board and the NC Department of Public Instruction have ignored the parents complaints about Common Core.

Instead, Wake county parents are told by idealogues like former Wake Board Chair Christine Kushner, that what is wrong with Wake schools is their fault.

Until the public demands that Wake County Schools make public every line item of their spending, these cherry picked articles and hyperbolic speeches by elected officials will continue. Or, shorter — the beatings will continue until morale improves.

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About A.P. Dillon

A.P. Dillon is a reporter currently writing at The North State Journal. She resides in the Triangle area of North Carolina. Find her on Twitter: @APDillon_ Tips: APDillon@Protonmail.com
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1 Response to WRAL Concerned About #WCPSS ‘Student Growth’

  1. Pingback: #WCPSS Has ‘Student Growth’ — in Charters, Homeschools, Private Schools | Lady Liberty 1885

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