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  • Borrowing from Their Future: Senator Harkin's $23 Billion Emergency Education Bill

    Sen. Tom Harkin (D-IA) announced during a Senate appropriations subcommittee hearing last Wednesday that he will sponsor a $23 billion emergency jobs bill in response to the country’s education employment situation.

    During the hearing Education Secretary Arne Duncan described the education job situation as “brutal” and Ramon C. Cortines, Superintendent of the Los Angeles Unified School District, warned of decreased academic achievement as communities “continue to hemorrhage teachers and other essential employees.”

    Although state and federal education leaders worry about any decreases in employment, increases in education labor over the past few decades cast doubt on the claims that labor market fluctuations will result in a poor quality of education for American students. As the Empire Center recently reported, New York State saw an increase in education jobs over the past decade although student enrollment declined during the same period. Commenting on claims that budget cuts will cost 14,000 state education jobs, the Empire Center reported:

    But these dire forecasts need to be weighed against a recent growth trend in school staffing. In fact, relative to enrollment, most school districts in New York employed more professional staff last year than they did at the start of the decade.
    Between 2000-01 and 2008-09, New York schools added 14,746 teachers and 8,655 non-teaching professionals such as administrators, guidance counselors, nurses, psychologists and social workers, according to State Education Department (SED) data. During the same period, statewide enrollment dropped by 121,280 pupils.

    The area of fastest growth in New York State occurred in non-teaching, support staff.

    Nationally, inflation-adjusted per-pupil spending has increased by from $2,703 in 1960 to $10,720 in 2006 while the student-teacher ratio has decreased from 27 to 1 in 1950 to 15 to 1 in 2006. Paying an increasing number of teachers to educate smaller classes of students (or else take lighter teaching loads) has led to a burgeoning jobs market in the education profession.

    Increases in education jobs are expected to continue. The Bureau of Labor Statistics’ latest report on kindergarten, elementary, middle, and secondary education teacher employment rates projects that job prospects for the industry will rise over the next decade even as student enrollment growth slows:

    Employment of kindergarten, elementary, middle, and secondary school teachers is expected to grow by 13 percent between 2008 and 2018, which is about as fast as the average for all occupations. Through 2018, overall student enrollments in elementary, middle, and secondary schools—a key factor in the demand for teachers—are expected to rise more slowly than in the past as children of the baby-boom generation leave the school system.

    Harkin is proposing the legislation without offsetting its cost–and he acknowledges that this is borrowing from the future:

    If there’s one legitimate area where we can borrow from the future, it’s education, because what sort of jobs will we have for my grandkids and great grandkids in the future if we don’t have a well-educated group of young people today?”

    Sadly, the only certainty in borrowing from our grandchildren to pay for bloated public-sector payrolls is to pass down higher taxes.

    Harkin’s $23 billion spending bill will prevent states from having to make difficult decisions such as rethinking existing programs and increasing efficiency. Harkin is ultimately letting states off the hook for existing financial obligations and budget shortfalls. His is a plan that is unlikely to spur states to implement long-term solutions in a sector that is ripe for reform.

    Posted in Education [slideshow_deploy]

    13 Responses to Borrowing from Their Future: Senator Harkin's $23 Billion Emergency Education Bill

    1. Billie says:

      As government schools beg year after year for more money, they admit they are failures to the cause. They do not figure anything out without causing tax burdens. There is absolutely no achievement in the standards of education in at least the last 10 years. More social programs and more demands of more money without showing a thing in at least the last 10 years, for it.

      No! The private sector students show much success and achievement and does it without this government failure. The private sector does it at reasonable costs as government can't do it at any cost but their LIMITLESS, own and without any achievement.

      get government out. they are teaching only in the best interest of the government. The government spends money as if there is a teacher per pupil. Their need is the illusion. The more students the less cost. Keep the disruptive students accountable and at home or get government out! Weed out the bad teachers by setting high standards and holding them accountable with reprimand if they fail WITH NO PAID LEAVE!


    2. Billie says:

      Less pay to ALL being paid with tax dollars (from the president down), In these hard times, should be the rule of thumb, but since it isn't that fair, it would at least show true integrity. Let's see what qualities of humanity, those working for us, have…

    3. karl wendell says:

      This bill will replace the dollars fromIDEA and Title I grants that went to private schools. To represent that the bailout was only for public education is fradulant at best.The republican party is more concerned with supporting vouchers and private education than fixing public education. To do a per pupil comparison without the impact of inflation and federal special education mandates is laughable. Who would publish such an artical

    4. Brad, Detroit, MI says:

      Another emotional argument the left will use to back their agenda of more public-sector union jobs. "It's for the kids !" You can't cut education ! "It's for the kids !"

      That is complete horse droppings and they know it. The US, while spending more on education than any other country in the world, has gone from top of the heap to not even the Top 25. Why ? Because we fill our school systems with administrators, bureacrats, and mid-level management positions that provide NO useful function in educating the kids. The graph says it all . . . since 1950, we have essentially doubled the amount of teachers relative to classroom size and have gotten WORSE. Just try to get a teacher fired. Good luck. There are still school districts in the area in which their health care coverage is so good – they still do not have any co-pays, and don't contribute one dime of their paycheck for their insurance.

      Maybe I picked the wrong profession ??

    5. Gerald Poe, Los Ange says:

      This is not the story the CTA and other unions have said. They tell stories of over burdened teachers and student results declining. In fact, most teachers have at least one aid (TA) per class room. The student is always the one that gets the raw deal. Unions always make sure they get not only their money but time off to boot.

    6. Tim AZ says:

      Obviously Harkin exists in his own little world of make believe. Where money flies out of the butt of Mao-Bama. While he sings it's a beautiful day in the neighborhood. I think reality is just about to kick him in the teeth.

    7. Rick says:

      I am a former and future high school mathematics teacher.

      I fully understand the need to manage school budgets closely. I understand the need to reduce municipal budgets if necessary to adjust to funding shortfalls.

      I do not understand demonizing teachers.

      I do not equate teachers with schools. I do not equate teachers with teachers' unions.

      I believe that regionalization and combinations of school districts can reduce the overhead burden of administrators and non-teaching staffs. I think professional training and increased attention to accountability can bring about positive outcomes in classrooms.

      I am ambivalent about using student performance on standardized tests to assess teachers, as it leads to "teaching the test" and short-changing students by narrowing their educational environment. Courses should be taught to the curriculum; testing within courses should be matched to what is taught.

      I am concerned that we do not have the proper high expectations for our students and that we do not match these high expectations with high commitments by teachers – and parents.

      Teachers should be evaluated – impartially and in accordance with recognized measures of performance and effectiveness. Much of the evaluation should emphasize the imparting of information within the classroom setting and be based on professional observation.

      Parents might be made part of this professional evaluation process. With some amount of training up-front, they could be excellent judges of good teaching techniques and procedures, and could be instrumental in using what they find in the classrooms they observe to bridge gaps in understanding between educational staffs and the customers they serve – the public.

      There should be a much wider, deeper discussion of education and its goals for our students' sakes. It needs to reach well beyond salaries, health benefits, and whether or not people without knowledge of the demands on teachers to prepare and practice effectively 'feel' that dedicated teachers do not work as hard as they do at their jobs.

      I am a former and future high school mathematics teacher. When I left teaching, my salary doubled and my workload halved. The pressure to perform as consistently high levels was lowered.

      But I left a position where I truly enjoyed and reveled in the successes of my students. I left an environment where I saw accomplishments daily – saw lightbulbs turning on (sometimes brightly, sometimes much less so).

      I have been away from teaching for seven years. I have not left the desire to teach behind.

    8. Jeanne Stotler, wood says:

      I have been saying for years that there is something wrong when private schools operate at a lower cost than public schools. Where is the line by line exam of all Goverment depts' and ccutting the waste that was promised before Nov. 2008?? As usual what BHO said before the election is the opposite of what he is doing, he committed fraud on the American people.

    9. Spiritof76, NH says:

      Eliminate tenures and seniority rules from teaching profession. Those rule belong on a factory floor of 1940.

      I am for paying for performance. If a teacher is not effective (determined by the principal based on a formal and crisp evaluation system) he/she should be removed.

      Right now, the students that go into teaching are most likely from lower rungs of SAT. By making the teaching pofession paid on performance basis can only elevate the quality of teachers.

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    11. Drew Page, IL says:

      Rick — Having once been a teacher myself, I can empathize with you statements. When you caution us not to deamonize teachers and not to equate teachers with schools or with unions, I agree. When you suggest there should be greater involvement, I agree. I remember quite well the meetings with my school's administration where staff was "encouraged" to teach to the test. This was done because the administration knew that they and their school board were going to be evaluated solely upon the results of standardized tests.

      Though they will deny this, they were really telling us to give the kids the answers to the tests and if they failed the test, there were any number of exceptions the administration was willing to accept to let the student retake the teast. I've had parents call me numerous times telling me that Johhny or Janie wasn't feeling good the day of the test and it wasn't fair that they failed. When I refused to go along, many of the parents went over my head to the Superintendent or a school board member, who was more sympathetic. The little triumphant smiles on their faces when they looked you in the eye and said "the Superintendent said I get to take the test again." I don't know how many times it took for me to be given the same speech by a Superintendent, "Look, let it go. It's no big deal. Let the kid retake the test. The kid's parents want to take this to the school board and the last thing I need is to have them all over me about this; they don't want to deal with it either."

      You want to know why a private (or parochial) school can teach kids for a lot less than what is spent in public schools? It's simple. First, there is the tuition that parents have to pay i.e., automatic parental involvement. Second, and probably most important, private schools have disciplinary codes for dress, deportment and achievement. This is spelled out in a contract that both parents and students sign before school begins. And believe it or not — these rules are enforced. Break these rules and you are out on your keister. End of story.

      The private schools are a privelege, not a right. Backtalk, insubordination, disrespect of fauclty or staff all all punishable by expulsion. In public schools, even armed police security staff aren't enough to stem gang violence, and physical abuse of fellow students and teachers. In public schools these miscreants are always referred to as "troubled youth", as if that is the acceptable excuse for any and all bad behavior from disrespecting faculty to attempted murder. As long as public schools must tolerate this kind of unacceptable behavior, no amount of money thrown at the schools will fix it.

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    13. Gary, New York says:

      I work in the school system in New York City and can tell you from direct experience that most class sizes are between 25 and 35 students. It is no where near 15 students. The information stated in this article is either wrong or gives incomplete information as to what it is really measuring.

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