Michigan Education Association Ads Fail Fact-Check

Claims of ‘concessions’ and doing ‘more with less’ are unsupported, misleading or false

The Michigan Education Association is airing television and radio advertisements that are misleading the public, according to Michael Van Beek, director of education policy at the Mackinac Center for Public Policy. Instead of heralding its ability to shield its members from the effects of Michigan’s decade-long recession, the Michigan Education Association says school employees are victims of politically charged attacks.

The Center produced a video analyzing each of the MEA’s claims.

“Research shows there is little supporting evidence for the MEA’s claims,” Van Beek said. “Far from being punching bags, teachers have weathered Michigan’s economic troubles better than most.”

For example, the MEA claims school employees have saved taxpayers $1 billion over the last three years through contract concessions. Using the latest data available from the Michigan Department of Education, Van Beek found that Michigan spent nearly $40 million more on public school employee compensation in 2008 than in 2006.

“In the end, pay increases for school employees outpaced any concessions made by particular employee groups,” Van Beek said. “The bottom line shows that there were no savings for taxpayers.”

Van Beek also fact-checked claims that class sizes are rising, that teachers on average spend $500 out-of-pocket annually on school supplies and that ineffective tax breaks for businesses are hurting schools financially. The last allegation was the only one that could be confirmed — several studies, including two authored by Mackinac Center scholars, have shown empirically that Michigan’s tax incentive programs fail to create jobs. The cost of these programs, however, only amount to 3 percent of what the state spends on school employee compensation each year.

“A healthy dialogue on how schools can best use their limited resources is important,” Van Beek added. “Unfortunately, the MEA’s ads don’t add anything to the debate and perpetuate common school funding myths.”

The Center’s video can be found at http://www.mackinac.org/12928#3322.

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