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See above a screenshot from the John Locke Foundation's blog post critical of the Star News. (Credit: John Locke Foundation,screenshot)

The North Carolina Star News’ Jan. 15 editorial was accused of containing factual errors, according to a blog on the John Locke Foundation website.

The John Locke Foundation identifies itself as an “independent nonprofit think tank” and a “political organization in North Carolina based on Lockean thought,” according to its website. Source Watch calls it “right-wing” and “free-market.”  The Star News is a daily newspaper in Wilmington, North Carolina, according to Mondo Times.  It has a circulation of about 37,000 copies. It is owned by the New York Times Company, but is one of the sixteen regional newspapers the company said in December it planned to sell.

The John Locke Foundation’s Chad Adams argued that the Star-News’ editorial was wrong in its “entirety” because “state funding actually INCREASED staff.”   As evidence, Adams cited this Jan. 13 story by the Beaufort (NC) Observer, which reported that despite claims that the NC Legislature made “cuts in education,” “there was an increase state-funded education employees.”

Adams suggested the Star-News editorial should have instead editorialized on the issue by focusing “locally and/or to the federal side of the fiscal equation.”

This is the StarNews’ editorial, “Politicians should take a walk in educators’ shoes.”

But, despite the John Locke Foundation’s criticism, the editorial addresses “contempt shown teachers by lawmakers,” noted there have been “budget cuts,” reported on a teachers’ request for “a little respect” from lawmakers after cuts making teachers give up five workdays, requests from teachers related to “better technology” and “money for supplies,” and principals calling for more staff.

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As such, the editorial isn’t based in its “entirety” on an argument about state funding’s effect on the number of staff, as the John Locke Foundation’s Adams argued.

We wrote to the Star News’ editorial page editor Tricia Vance asking for comment on the John Locke Foundation’s criticism.  She told iMediaEthics by e-mail:

“When you write editorials for a living, you learn to accept that not everyone is going to agree with what you say — and I wouldn’t be doing my job if I didn’t touch a nerve now and then.

“The fact is that state budget cuts are being felt in our classrooms, whether these folks care to admit it or not. New Hanover County schools have lost 400 positions in the past three budget years, and the state cut $13 million from the school district’s budget this year. But this editorial did not deal with staffing. Rather, it discussed such issues as teacher morale and lack of supplies to do the job, as well as the legislature’s indifference if not outright hostility toward public school teachers. The people on the front lines are feeling these cuts, and that is the bottom line.”

We have written the John Locke Foundations’ Chad Adams for comment and will update with any response.

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John Locke Foundation Criticizes Star News Editorial, but Does Criticism Hold Up?

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