Blogging Bayport Alameda

May 27, 2010

Lies, damned lies, and statistics

As I posted the other day, the Committee Against Measure E (CAME)/Alamedans for Fair Taxation (AFT) have been using the kitchen sink approach during this campaign.   Not allowing facts or good analysis of data get in the way of their messaging that Measure E is just horrible and awful and will only serve the elitist East End families who — could all probably afford private schools for their children — instead have evil machinations to force all Alameda property owners to pay for THEIR kids in some twisted evil plot to make little old ladies lose their homes and send business to India.

One of the “facts” that came out of CAME/AFT’s campaign was the revelation that Alameda has the 2nd and 3rd highest Administrators and Services Staff per pupil.    Of course when one actually looks at the data, it was pretty clear that CAME/AFT simply read the chart incorrectly.   When eventually confronted with this by commenter Matt Parker, CAME/AFT quickly backpeddled and asked people to look at a different set of data:

See in the middle, after Matt Parker points out what the data actually means, CAME/AFT asks him to instead view the data using the comparison of Pupils per administrator.

Meaning, as pointed out by Matt P., that he is asking us all to compare a metric to the same metric.    The common thread between all three of the school districts is the number of Pupils per Administrator, if you are going to make the assertion that AUSD has an unusually high number of Administrators, you can’t simply pull out examples that are equal to within +/- 5% and say that your conclusion is sound.   Because it’s not.

As shown by this slide, when compared to similiarly sized school districts,  AUSD runs on the lean side when it comes to administrators and staff.

Although the good times just keep on coming from the CAME/AFT campaign, this was one of the most recent messages posted:

An anonymous “supporter” stating the opposite of what the lawsuit against Measure H (and potentially Measure E if it passes and Edward Hirshberg makes good on his promise to keep on keeping on).

I am unclear on how the “rich and the poor” can be taxed “by the same amount” but at the same time not be uniform as CAME/AFT have claimed and is at the base of the lawsuit against Measure H.    But I suppose when you are trying every argument out there, there is no time for internal consistency.

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32 Comments

  1. Just noticed this intellectual gem on the Action Alameda site:

    “AUSD has a high number of admins per pupil, compared to similar schools as measured by admins per pupil.”

    Comment by BC — May 27, 2010 @ 8:30 am

  2. Compared to the other fifty states California public schools in 2005-5 ranked 49th in Students enrolled per teacher and 29th in per student expenditures.

    Last years I could find.

    http://www.ed-data.k12.ca.us/articles/article.asp?title=california%20comparison

    Comment by jayare — May 27, 2010 @ 8:58 am

  3. On a related note…

    I got a reminder today about sending in your ballot. It noted that you must SIGN AND DATE the orange return envelope, otherwise your vote won’t be counted. A good detail to remember!

    Comment by david burton — May 27, 2010 @ 9:58 am

  4. Speaking of statistics …

    Looks like AUSD Superintendent Kristen Vital’s contract includes a mandatory 3% pay hike.

    Assuming this is correct, what sort of message does it send to the voters? Why are we being asked to pony up more while AUSD is giving out pay hikes?

    Why is there a 3% pay hike at a time when people around the country (and in Alameda) haven’t had a raise in a while (if they are still lucky to have a job).

    Is there a similar raise in the staff/teacher’s contract as well?

    Comment by Joise — May 27, 2010 @ 1:43 pm

  5. http://www.action-alameda-news.com/2010/05/21/alameda-school-district-planning-millions-in-cuts-even-if-measure-e-passes/comment-page-1/#comment-5404

    He’s still arguing that he didn’t make a mistake:

    “When comparing pupils-per-admin to school districts with a comparable number of pupils-per-admin – within +/- 5%, and adjusting for out of district students in AUSD, AUSD fares worse. This was, admittedly, as small sample size, but of 3 districts surveyed, AUSD had the most admins per pupil.”

    So, out of 333 districts in CA, two other districts have about the same ratio as us. And of those three that have about the same ratio, ours is the worst (according to him). STOP THE PRESSES!

    Comment by LR — May 27, 2010 @ 2:13 pm

  6. This thing will pass. I mean seriously- take a drive through town and 95% of the houses have “Support Measure A!” signs.

    I don’t care either way because I don’t have kids. If I did I’d probably move to another state. But in any regards there’s a sort of irony in all of this. It seems like those complaining are mainly older folks. Folks who probably live in some huge house they bought for chicken feed and is now worth $800,000 and have been able to stay in because they’ve been protected all these years by prop 13. But a major contributing factor to the decline in California schools has been the result of prop 13.

    But now that the schools are broke, little tax hikes like these are going to probably going to become an annual thing and everyone’s going to have to pay.

    I’ve been saying it for years. You want to fix schools? Repeal Prop 13. Otherwise expect measure after measure to appear year after year.

    Comment by edvard — May 27, 2010 @ 3:21 pm

  7. Guess what, I opened my Alameda Sun this morning and a big yellow scourge fell out. It told me to vote no on E, to support classrooms not courtrooms.
    In the same Sun was a comment from the editors of the Sun to support E.

    Woe is me! Lawyers have to eat but then so do teachers. I guess I’ll vote for the schools and my wife can vote for the lawyers, that should make everybody happy.

    Comment by Jayare — May 27, 2010 @ 3:44 pm

  8. You got it all wrong edvard. That 800000 was worth 36000 or less when these old folks bought their homes. It’s you rich new guys moving in that drove the prices up.

    Comment by Jayare — May 27, 2010 @ 3:48 pm

  9. A polite person would thank them for driving up his net worth.

    Comment by dave — May 27, 2010 @ 5:36 pm

  10. David Burton,

    You do have to sign the envelope, but not date it. You gave me a moment of panic because I did not remember dating it before I dropped it in the mailbox.

    Comment by Jill — May 27, 2010 @ 5:42 pm

  11. 10. I hope you are correct, but I don’t think so. There is certainly a location for it to be dated. I just caught my neighbor with undated ballot and she insisted it didn’t matter because of date of post office cancellation, but I made her sign it anyway. Contract date location is usually immediately to the right so this ballot is confusing. It’s just like regular absentee which has date and address above signature.

    Comment by M.I. — May 27, 2010 @ 6:41 pm

  12. Only the signature is “required” .

    Comment by Jayare — May 27, 2010 @ 7:21 pm

  13. Measure E Results:

    Yes 57 percent
    No 43 percent

    Comment by AlamedaNayTiff — May 27, 2010 @ 7:26 pm

  14. I don’t think anyone has the nerve to repeal Prop 13, but it certainly does need an overhaul! Just another piece of the puzzle.

    Comment by Alana Dill — May 28, 2010 @ 12:26 am

  15. Still waiting for a response:

    http://laurendo.wordpress.com/2010/05/27/lies-damned-lies-and-statistics/#comment-84450

    Comment by Joise — May 28, 2010 @ 6:40 am

  16. Jayare,
    Don’t worry about at least this young family. We’re about 7 months away from moving out of state. Some other young hip couple will have to cough up $800,000 for that cute 3 bedroom bungalow. We make a good income but there’s no way we’ll ever pay $500,000+ for a home. Besides- as someone else mentioned I’m sure there’s a lot of old people in Alameda who are awful glad that their little working class house is worth 500% more than what they paid.

    This has been talked to death but it really is prop 13. This law will continue to suck the state dry year after year unless its repealed or changed. Yet it’ll never get repealed since the state’s population grows older and older and those are the folks who get such a sweet little benefit from it.

    Last I heard the current plan in Sacramento is to borrow umpteen billion dollars from the Fed and somehow pay them back over 10 years through the glass bottle recycling program? That’s just for this year. Next year they’ll have to come up with another ‘genius’ plan. This state is so totally screwed financially. The fact that there is even talk about cutting school funding shows you how desperate the situation is. So unless something drastic is done ( like the repeal of Prop 13 and others) schools will probably have to get funded by more bake sales and tax increases. Totally ridiculous given that California is by and large a very wealthy state full of very wealthy people and extraordinarily successful companies.

    Comment by edvard — May 28, 2010 @ 8:04 am

  17. edvard, you must not understand the history of prop 13 to think it’s sucking the state dry. In fact, the state sucking property owners dry through confiscatory taxes was its impetus. It’s pretty simple for most people to understand that the state belongs to the people not politicians who’ve never seen a bucket of pork that couldn’t be filled by other people’s taxes in order to harvest votes.

    Comment by Jayare — May 28, 2010 @ 9:37 am

  18. When a commercial property owner is allowed to pay 10% of the taxes that a newer homeowner pays and get market rates for income, that is sucking the state dry. I don’t have a problem with someone’s physical residence being locked into a certain rate. That is the american dream and everyone should be able to work hard to save a down payment and buy it knowing they are able to handle the payment and taxes. Beyond the house that you plant yourself in at night all bets should be off. Corporations and people who own rental property should be paying market rate for their taxes. After all there isn’t a whole bunch of rental units or commercial property that is a bargain because the landlord decided to pass his/her savings along.

    Comment by Member of a real family — May 28, 2010 @ 10:07 am

  19. I’ve asked twice so far and gotten no response. So is it possible that my interpretation is correct
    and there are no real answers on why we’re being asked to pony up more cash to support AUSD’s payroll
    hikes?

    http://laurendo.wordpress.com/2010/05/27/lies-damned-lies-and-statistics/#comment-84450

    Comment by Joise — May 28, 2010 @ 2:32 pm

  20. Joise: I am not familiar with the details behind the Superintendent’s contract, but as to the teachers union, a commenter on Michele Ellson’s the Island listed out some of the concessions that were made by the teachers.

    Comment by Lauren Do — May 28, 2010 @ 2:41 pm

  21. Excuse me we leave on the east end and we are voting No on E , I was almost going to vote yes but then upon looking closely at the ballot it tell you the right way to vote , that is the ultimate fraud.I would not mind passing a $600 dollars rent hike on the tenants . Yet decency tell me No on E is the only way to vote.

    Comment by Georges — June 1, 2010 @ 2:04 am

  22. Walking around town this weekend I saw a whole ton of signs and even some houses decked out entirely with pro or anti Measure E propaganda. Its like a circus in some ways.

    I’ve been seeing quite a few signs that now say:

    “Protect your home’s value. Vote YES on E.”

    I can’t put my finger on it but something about that really rubs me the wrong way. It seems so much like the typical NIMBY rhetoric common in the Bay Area where your house is like some sort of golden idol. I can understand the reasons behind it. If you paid lots of money for a house so your kids could go to a good school and suddenly the schools get cuts then perhaps this would indicate the financial sacrifices you made would be threatened. Either that or the messaging is aimed at older residents who might not care about schools since they don’t have kids yet would hate to see their prop-13 protected house lose value.

    Saving home values has nothing to do with saving schools. The whole point of Measure E is to fund schools so that kids will be able to keep having the quality of education they have been getting. But with this message it seems that the top priority is to make sure and keep our property prices high and on a side note maybe help the schools too.

    The messaging needs to be strictly about saving schools. Period. Believe it or not I support Measure E. Here’s the reason why. I have worked in various locations throughout the Bay Area. I’ve worked on the Peninsula, SF, and the East Bay. Some of these areas are very wealthy and coincidentally have what are considered good schools. They are “good” because the parents who live there bankroll their public schools out of their own pockets. Meanwhile the poor areas have kids who go to schools that don’t get that kind of funding because their parents are poor. That seems wrong to me. It doesn’t matter if you are a poor or rich kid. They should all receive a fair chance.

    With Measure E at least everyone would have to pitch in. Its everyone’s responsibility to ensure that kids get access to a good education regardless of their financial background.

    Comment by edvard — June 1, 2010 @ 7:59 am

  23. 21. please proof read you comment. I sort of know what you are saying, but not really. If you want your comment to be taken seriously would you restate it? especially about the ballot.

    Comment by M.I. — June 1, 2010 @ 3:56 pm

  24. I don’t see any pro-measure E folks condemning this despicable act … does that mean they (implicitly) agree with such strong arm tactics?

    http://www.action-alameda-news.com/2010/05/29/measure-e-and-racial-epithets/

    Comment by JB — June 1, 2010 @ 4:19 pm

  25. Lauren, thanks for replying (20).

    I find it odd that an ace blogger like yourself is unable to track down Vital’s contract, yet you’re able to get your hands on almost any document pertaining to the city without any problems.

    I was since able to confirm that her contract does include a mandatory 3% raise — so this begs the question: who needs measure E? The schools (as they would like us to believe) or AUSD administration/staff … so they get guaranteed pay hikes every year.

    Oh … we signed, sealed and delivered our ballots with a resounding NO on E.

    Comment by Joise — June 1, 2010 @ 4:25 pm

  26. Joise: I didn’t say I was unable to track down the Superintendent’s contract, just that I wasn’t familiar with the details and specifics.

    JB: If the reports actually came from a reliable source I’m sure you would hear the cries of outrage. Personally, I take any “news” from that site with a massive dose of salt.

    Comment by Lauren Do — June 1, 2010 @ 4:57 pm

  27. 24 — Given the credibility of the author, I very much doubt the incident happened. If it did, I’ll condemn it.

    Now, will you condemn the author’s race-baiting and creation of a map that shows the homes of Measure E supporters that he condemns as being motivated by racism? I’ve been asking that question for weeks and have yet to hear a single Measure E opponent condemn those tactics.

    Comment by Oh the irony! — June 1, 2010 @ 5:13 pm

  28. I think what Joise was “able to confirm” left some things out.

    I heard that the Superintendent has actually agreed to take a pay cut along with everyone else in the form of furlough days.

    I also heard that, unlike other employees, she pays all of her benefits out of pocket, so that her pay is not increasing as Joise says. I think she is also the lowest or nearly lowest paid Superintendent in the region.

    Finally, Joise sounds like she or he was going to vote no no matter what, but it might be good to note that Measure E says that funds from Measure E cannot go to pay administrators’ salaries.

    Comment by Heard It through the Grapevine — June 1, 2010 @ 7:17 pm

  29. I was at the board meeting where they updated her contract to include the furlough days.

    I couldn’t find a pay scale chart and I have to go to work soon but I can tell you that the 2 districts that posted salaries with approx. the same number of students make about $30K more than her per year.

    Comment by Member of a real family — June 1, 2010 @ 7:28 pm

  30. #27 — Yup. I’ve yet to hear a single Measure E opponent condemn CAME’s tactics either.

    I guess it’s either a “the ends justify the means” thing or people are terrified to speak up for fear their names, photos, and addresses will get published, too.

    Funny how powerful intimidation and reprisal can be.

    Comment by Higgledy Piggledy — June 1, 2010 @ 10:05 pm

  31. Has CAME come up with any school parents who want the measure to fail for the sake of making it more “fair” for their kids?

    Comment by Jack B. — June 2, 2010 @ 7:07 am

  32. Marvin Gaye (28), perhaps my preferences are not all that different from folks like you who had decided a priori to support Measure E no matter what.

    To each their own. I am just against funding frivolous AUSD expenses with no sign of anything positive being achieved as a result.

    Comment by Joise — June 2, 2010 @ 1:38 pm


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