Education Secretary Arne Duncan is backing Sen. Tom Harkin’s $23 billion bill to save teachers’ jobs, reports Politics K-12. Students worry that their favorite teachers will be laid off, Duncan said.
Threatening to fire teachers — and then “heroically saving” teachers’ jobs with emergency funding — “has become the national pastime of America’s politicians,” sneers Hit & Run. Much of the $100 billion in education stimulus funds “went directly to pay for the salary, benefits, and pensions of school personnel.”
But now, in a development that exactly everyone could have foreseen, that money is running out. And since the massive infusion of cash saved states from having to make tough decisions about the budget, we are exactly where we were at the beginning of 2009. The cry goes ’round the room: Teacher firings are upon us!
The bill delays the inevitable belt-tightening, Gadfly agrees. Students will lose their “favorite teachers” only if “unions force districts to abide by ‘last-hired, first-fired’ rules, instead of making lay-off decisions based on merit, Gadfly adds.
Harkin’s plan is to “drop more money out of airplanes for education” without seeking meaningful reforms in return, writes Daniel L. Bennett on the College Affordability blog.
The bill was introduced as an emergency spending bill, meaning that it would be exempt from the meaningless pay-as-you-go rules that require new spending to be financed.
During the fat years, teacher hiring outpaced enrollment, notes the Wall Street Journal.
Between 2001 and 2007, 12 states saw student enrollment fall while teaching staffs grew, according to data from the Census Bureau and the National Center for Education Statistics. And in another half-dozen states, teachers were hired out of all proportion to increased enrollment.
For example, Virginia’s student enrollment grew by 5% and the number of teachers grew by 21%. In Florida, student enrollment rose by 6% and the number of teachers rose by 20%. Student enrollment was up by 9% in North Carolina, where the number of teachers was up by 22%.
In a recession economy, that’s not sustainable, especially if top-scale teachers’ jobs are protected by seniority, while bottom-scale teachers are laid off. (And, yes, if seniority vanishes, there’s a big financial incentive to lay off experienced top-scale teachers.)