News Bite

Traverse City News Outlet Reports ‘Teacher Shortage’ With Debunked Myth, Bad Data, Biased Sources

Story’s title, conclusions and sources all misleading and demonstrably wrong

WPBN-TV, an NBC affiliate that serves the Traverse City area and is owned by the Sinclair Broadcast Group, recently published an article on an alleged teacher shortage that included several inaccurate claims.

The story blamed the shortage on state budget cuts, saying they have, over the years, had a negative impact on teacher morale.

But there is no record of state budget cuts to schools in recent years. To the contrary, the amount of state money allocated to K-12 public schools has increased every year since 2010-11, according to the Senate Fiscal Agency. This includes the current school year.

The WPBN report also claimed that in 2013, Gov. Rick Snyder “instituted a $1 billion pay cut to education.”

That was a myth promoted in 2013 by Democrats and public school interests, and carried by many state media outlets in the run-up to a gubernatorial election the following year. Michigan Capitol Confidential was the first news outlet to debunk it, eventually joined by a chorus of media and research organizations also reporting the claim was false.

The WPBN article quoted four sources for its article. One was a school district official and two were identified as officials with the Michigan Education Association, the state’s largest teachers union. A fourth individual, Frank Berger, was only identified as a teacher in the Carman-Ainsworth school district. The story failed to mention that is also president of the district’s local MEA union and was a nominee to the 2020 Democratic National Convention.

Michigan Capitol Confidential is the news source produced by the Mackinac Center for Public Policy. Michigan Capitol Confidential reports with a free-market news perspective.