Lies, Damned Lies, and The Democratic Party – Part XXXII

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The Wisconsin Left’s dishonesty – indeed, seeming eagerness to straight-up lie – could be the theme of a publication unto itself. Once again, they’ve been caught with their pants on fire by claiming Wisconsin ACT scores plummeted to 41st in the nation. This is of course a total lie.

In a news release (that’s still up on the DPW website as long as the link works), the party breathlessly exclaimed:

Newly released information from the Department of Instruction shows a dramatic decline in student ACT results in the past year. Test scores dropped Wisconsin from 2nd in the country to 41st in the nation among states where more than half the students took the exam.

Without getting into the weeds of how ACT test scores are calculated and can legitimately be analyzed, the truth is that the state’s scores stayed the same as the previous year, 22.2 on average. That puts Wisconsin second among states where more than half of graduating seniors took the ACT.

Not 41st.

Basically, the DPW claim compares apples to oranges to wring the worst possible number out of the data.

Politifact, to its credit, called this a “pants-on-fire” lie – the lyiest lie rating they give:

For years, Wisconsin leaders have expressed pride in how the state’s high school students perform on the ACT exam, which assesses students’ academic readiness for college.

From 2008 through 2014, with Minnesota ranking first, Wisconsin has battled, usually with Iowa, for second or third.

That is, among states where more than half of the students take the ACT.

So, it was a surprise on Jan. 14, 2016 when the Wisconsin Democratic Party issued a news release declaring that Wisconsin’s ACT rank had plunged to near the bottom.

“Newly released information from the (Wisconsin) Department of Instruction shows a dramatic decline in student ACT results in the past year,” the news release stated, blaming Republican Gov. Scott Walker.

“Test scores dropped Wisconsin from second in the country to 41st in the nation among states where more than half the students took the exam.”

Such a free-fall should have produced blaring headlines.

There were no headlines because it wasn’t true, and news outlets typically avoid reporting outright lies.

A DPW spokesman issued a quasi-mea culpa, claiming the party “flubbed” the data. But this is dubious given their history.

The DPW also straight-up lied about Scott Walker’s early exit from Marquette University. At the time, as is the case now, they didn’t even bother taking down the lie. A webpage peddling their fictional narrative that Walker was expelled for trying to rig a campus election persisted at least through the 2014 election.

They’d hate to let the truth, or even a variation of it, derail their attempt to portray Walker as a nefarious dolt.

They also straight-up lied when they edited a video of Walker nodding, juxtaposed against a question of whether he’d been involved in a “criminal scheme” to make it seem like he was admitting wrongdoing. Walker has an unnerving tendency to tacitly acknowledge (by nodding along or just being nice to the reporter) the premises of questioners, which hurt him during the presidential campaign when he seemed to endorse a wall along the Canadian border.

In that case, the DPW was peddling a narrative that Walker was the head of a nefarious criminal enterprise teeming with evil mustache-twirling conservatives. Like the defunct, discredited John Doe probes that pumped out misinformation to advance the “criminal” storyline, it’s always full speed ahead, truth be damned.

Both lies also earned the pants-on-fire rating from Politifact.

Sure, both parties stretch the truth and even lie. But the ongoing, relentless bald-faced lies by The Left in Wisconsin never cease to amaze, especially in a state like Wisconsin, where decorum and honesty are still valued. Maybe their dishonesty is the cause of the beat-down Republicans have put on them in recent years, not the cure.

It appears that even with failed former DPW chairman Mike Tate off the party payroll (and on the payroll of the Bucks, oddly) and new, doe-eyed new chair Martha Laning, nothing has really changed on the other side. The professional Left in Wisconsin seems born and bred to constantly lie.

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In case the DPW actually takes down the press release, I’ve kept it for posterity below:

Wisconsin ACT scores plummet

Newly released information from the Department of Instruction shows a dramatic decline in student ACT results in the past year. Test scores dropped Wisconsin from 2nd in the country to 41st in the nation among states where more than half the students took the exam.

“The latest information released today is another glaring failure of the Walker Administration to make sound, smart policy decisions to improve education in our state,” Democratic Party of Wisconsin Chair Martha Laning said on Thursday. “As a parent with children who have recently graduated from high school I’ve had a front row seat to the destructive changes that have short-changed our children and their futures. When budget cuts force schools to do more with less it’s no surprise that the quality of the education our children receive inevitably declines.”

In last year’s State of the State address, Governor Scott Walker claimed his education policies were working, boasting that “ACT scores are up and Wisconsin now ranks second in the country.” Now, five days away from Walker’s next State of the State it’s clear that the policies of the last six years have failed schools, students, and parents.

Out of a top score of 36, the average test score in the state dropped from 22.0 to 20.0, which pulls Wisconsin to dead last in the Midwest and tied with Kentucky for 41st in the entire country. Due to funding cuts, damage has been made to Wisconsin’s traditionally high-quality education system and now our kids, businesses and communities will suffer. Nationally, Wisconsin saw the fourth largest cut to K-12 general school aid funding in 2015-16 according to the nonpartisan research policy institute, the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities.

While Wisconsin has traditionally ranked above average in terms of ACT scores, these latest numbers place Wisconsin dead last in the Midwest and among the bottom ten states nationally.

“I can only empathize with the parents across the state who see this news and grow ever more concerned with the direction of our state. Our kids deserve the same high-quality education we had as kids and the choices the legislature has made is stealing that from them..” said Laning. “The state of education in Wisconsin is not strong. The newest numbers should be a wake-up call to the governor and the Republican legislature that their misguided priorities are hurting our education system and, therefore, our kids, businesses and communities.”

About the writer: Chris Rochester is editor in chief of Morning Martini. He’s a communication specialist with experience in the private sector and on various campaigns. He's the communications director for the John K. MacIver Institute for Public Policy. Commentary here is strictly his own.
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