The $10 billion edujobs bill was signed into law on August 10. Its stated purpose was to save the jobs of 160,000 educators. I, and many others, thought the need for the bill was based on some highly questionable numbers, but once that battle was lost, I was prepared to move on.
Except with each morning comes a new reminder about its flaws. Let’s begin with this wonderful little chart from the National Council on Teacher Quality:
NCTQ also notes that since the publication of this chart, San Francisco rehired 208 laid-off teachers.
Anecdotal? Sure. But anecdotal evidence is more evidence than the Council of Economic Advisors had. As NCTQ reports, “It turns out the numbers it cited were not based on any actual need reported by districts or their states. They never surveyed districts on how many layoffs they were facing nor did they collect data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics.”
We move on to Stateline.org, which published a story on September 3 detailing the problems some states were having with the bill’s fine print. It stated:
It’s almost impossible to estimate how many teachers have been laid off so far around the country but experts put the number somewhere between 100,000 and 300,000. U.S. Education Secretary Arne Duncan has said the new legislation would protect 161,000 jobs.
Unfortunately for Stateline, timing is everything, and the very same day the Bureau of Labor Statistics released its monthly report on America’s employment situation. Table B-1 disaggregates the statistics by sector. The vast majority of educators fall into the “Local Government – Education” category. The nearly 8 million employees in this category include superintendents, managers, principals, specialists and other workers not covered by the edujobs bill. Nevertheless, the total workforce in August 2010 consisted of 56,500 fewer employees than it did in August 2009. That’s a reduction of 0.7 percent, which isn’t much worse than the reduction in enrollment. It also fits quite nicely with NEA’s estimate of membership loss, pre-edujobs.
Yesterday, the Argus-Leader reported that the bill may cost some South Dakota school districts money, and the San Bernardino Sun listed the local California districts that are saving the edujobs money for next year, mainly because they didn’t lay off many (or any) teachers this year. This morning, the Columbus Post Dispatch noted that the Ohio district was doing the same thing (96 of pink-slipped 113 teachers had already been rehired).
Don’t forget: the House was recalled to special session to vote on the bill because it was supposed to require immediate action. The people who surrendered their food stamp increases will be happy to know the money is sitting in school district bank accounts, earning interest.