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Liberal math

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This Ontario NDP fact check should warm the hearts of economists, accountants and math teachers everywhere:

Are Liberals Smarter Than a 5th Grader?

The Ontario Liberals put out a release with this erroneous secondary headline: "NDP K-12 plan amounts to just 0.0009% of total education budget."

To calculate this figure, they divided $20 million by the province's 2011-12 education budget of $23.2 billion. But they failed to multiply the result by 100 before expressing it as a percentage.

Characterizing $20 million as the NDP's entire K-12 plan is also inaccurate. Today's announcement comprised $20 million annually to remove fees for high-school courses and a further $20 million annually to reduce the reliance on parental fundraising for clubs, teams, field trips, special events and presentations. The NDP will say more on education as the campaign progresses.

In the meantime, here's a cheat sheet on today's announcement for the Liberal war room:

$20 million + $20 million = $40 million
$40 million / $23.2 billion = 0.0017
0.0017 * 100 = 0.17%

...and the same calculation for the first year of the Liberal K-12 platform:

science teaching ($8 million) + foster skills ($10 million) + summer camps ($12 million) + teacher education ($20 million) + healthy snacks ($35 million) = $85 million
$85 million / $23.2 billion = 0.0037
0.0037 * 100 = 0.37%

That's change that puts numeracy first.

This article was first posted on The Progressive Economics Forum.

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