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April 22, 2010
The recession is said to be lifting for some but not for teachers. Budget shortfalls across the country are now edging into education, resulting in up to 300,000 layoffs according to Secretary of Education Duncan. As per the usual, Congress has seen fit to introduce a $23 billion bailout for American schools and institutions citing a possible "educational catastrophe." Is this necessary or is Congress ignoring the arithmetic?
Budgets everywhere are in need of revising because taxes dropped but education was spared much of the cuts. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the education sector as a whole is expected to grow by 12.5% over the next decade even as 42.2% of the 2008 workforce is over the age of 45. Even as the industry becomes younger (with the Baby Boomers retiring) government schools have yet to adapt or even consider alternatives. In many cases, student enrollment has dropped but the number of teachers remains steady. In New York for instance, class sizes had the 8th highest national pupil-teacher ratio of 13:1, but 15,000 teachers were added to that state's public school system. Business as usual indeed.
Moreover, the stimulus bill helped support around 325,000 teachers and school staff and districts are still asking for more money? Attitudes may have changed during the economic crisis but practices remain the same. If schools cannot be expected to manage their finances with almost $100 billion coming their way, it is irresponsible to think another $20 billion will suddenly fix the problem. (Recently, even Megan Fox has gotten in on the act with a video advocating for more education money for California schools. She might want to check out the Law of Conservation of Mass as it applies to wealth as well.)
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