“Ct Murder Rate Three Times Higher Than Ct Teacher Fire Rate”
Zachary Janowski, needler-in-chief at the Raising Hale blog (check out his post pointing out that half the legislature has a “leadership” title) weighs in on the raging teacher-tenure debate in a post with some odd statistics attached to it.
Janowski reports on the relatively small number of teachers bounced out of Connecticut classrooms each year, and reaches the conclusion that an average American worker is 17 times more likely to be laid off than a state teacher. Layoff statistics are difficult to wrangle, with industries like construction that might have workers experiencing multiple separations and hirings in a single year, but Janowski’s calculation is plausible.
But the post takes a strange turn as reprinted in George Gombossy’s CTWatchdog site. There, the headline is: “Ct Murder Rate Three Times Higher Than Ct Teacher Fire Rate,” and the following copy is added: “According to FBI crime statistics, each year in Connecticut there are more murder victims than fired teachers. There is a murder every three days. A certified teacher is fired every nine.”
That’s intriguing copy. But that’s not how statistics work.
Let’s break down the numbers. According to the FBI, there were 131 murders in Connecticut in 2010, which is reasonably close to one every three days. But murder rates aren’t calculated as crimes per day; they’re calculated based on the population. Those same FBI stats say the state had a little more than 3.5 million residents in 2010, and calculates Connecticut’s murder rate as 3.6 victims per 100,000.
Connecticut teachers, meanwhile, have on average seen 42 of their number fired annually, out of 42,000 in the profession, according to Janowski’s post. Those 42,000 include non-tenured teachers, but even ignoring that yields a firing rate of 100 per 100,000.
So to the extent that the comparison between murders and teacher firings is relevant, the “Ct Teacher Fire Rate” is actually 28 times higher than the murder rate.
But why would you even make that sort of statistical comparison?
Full disclosure: my wife is a teacher, though one pretty consistently deemed to be qualified.
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