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  • A "Crisis," More Hype, and Another Call for Bailouts

    Brace yourselves – America is about to fall into an “education catastrophe,” says Secretary of Education, Arne Duncan. Up to 300,000 educational workers may receive pink slips this coming fall. The only solution is the same solution to all our other economic problems. Yes, you know the drill. It is time for another bailout, this time to save our education system.

    Last Sunday, President Obama wrote a letter to Congress urging members to provide $23 billion in relief to state and local governments to supposedly prevent the layoffs of thousands of teachers nationwide.  Countless newspaper articles have concluded that if Congress does not act now, class sizes will become so large that student achievement will fall far behind, the academic year will shorten, and some schools will even lock their doors for good.  Well, is the hysteria pushing this agenda really necessary?

    Charles Lane from the Washington Post calls this plea for more funding simply hype. Lane accurately reminds his readers that educational workers not only include K-12 teachers but also bus drivers, custodians, administration, etc., as well as some college faculty.  Moreover, consider the ambiguity behind the broad estimate of 100,000 to 300,000 future layoffs. From January 2009 to May 2010, which includes the deepest points of the recession, a total of 61,600 state and local educational jobs were lost, at a 0.59% rate of job loss. Over the entire last three years, from December 2007 to May 2010, there was actually a net increase in total state and local educational jobs by 20,700. Yet, the Obama administration is leading Americans to believe that up to 300,000 educational jobs will be lost this coming fall alone.

    Of course, state budget deficits that may lead to future educational jobs losses are certainly something to be concerned about.  However, when comparing job losses in the public sector to those in the private sector, it is clear the real job losses are occurring in the private sector. From December 2007 to May 2010, there was a net loss of 49,300 total state and local jobs at a rate of 0.25%. In the same time period, there were 7,972,000 job losses in the private sector at a rate of 6.9%. The industries hardest hit were manufacturing (2.1 million job losses, 15.1% of total), professional and business (1.4 million, 7.7%), financial activities (628,000, 7.6%), and construction (1.9 million, 25.4%). These figures make job loss rates in the public sector that are less than 1% appear minuscule in the broader economic picture.

    The argument remains that educational job losses will result in larger classrooms and thus lower academic achievement. However, if 300,000 job losses really occur, the student to teacher ratio would rise by a slim margin from 15.3 – 1 to 16.6 – 1. At 100,000 job losses, the ratio would rise to 15.6 – 1. To put this number is perspective; the student-teacher ratio in 1950 was 27:1. In addition, public schools at the time employed 2.36 teachers for every non-teacher. Today that ratio is closer to one to one. More importantly, throwing money at states merely puts a band aid on the problems facing our education system and prevents districts from pursuing actual reform and more efficiency.  If the administration insists on using its usual spending fix, it can start by using some of the $421 billion in unspent stimulus funds from last year’s Recovery and Reinvestment Act.

    True economic growth arises from entrepreneurship and the small businesses that create jobs. Taxing the private sector which is facing much higher levels of unemployment to save government jobs is simply a transfer of resources and in the end does not save or create jobs at all.  There is no such thing as a free lunch, and in this case the private sector will pay for it.

    Bethany Aronhalt is a member of the Young Leaders Program at the Heritage Foundation. For more information on interning at Heritage, please visit: http://www.heritage.org/about/departments/ylp.cfm

    Posted in Education [slideshow_deploy]

    9 Responses to A "Crisis," More Hype, and Another Call for Bailouts

    1. SamAdams25, Virginia says:

      Let's just be honest and call it what it really is – the Obama administration is lying to the American people again. Just like all the misinformation, twisting of facts and numbers, and outright lies the administration told us about ObamaCare.

      This is nothing more than a 23 Billion dollar "gift" to the teacher's unions to get them to support Dems this fall. The public education system should find ways of cutting costs, and the teachers should take pay and benefit cuts, just like everyone else has to do, but the greedy unions believe themselves to be immune to the difficulties that the private sector must face.

      ALL states should pass "Right to Work" laws to protect their citizens and state governments from the greedy and out of control labor unions.

    2. Harry says:

      Mr. Obama should ask for few Hundred Thousand Dollars to set up a BLUE Ribbon commission.

      Send these BLUE Ribbon members on a tour to the Orient with a mission to find out how many kids the Koreans, Filipinos, Vietnamese, Chinese and Indians stuff in their tiny classrooms.

      40 to 50 kids packed in a very tight confines of the so called classrooms with leaky roofs, virtually no amenities and little supply, these countries are churning out Math and Science whiz in droves every year.

      Let the BLUE Ribbon experts find out what magical potion those teachers and the kids drink there and how they produce vast number of kids prepared to take up the challenges facing them when they graduate.

      Next, put our kids and teachers on the same potion plans.

      Sarcasm aside, money or the class size has nothing to do with the students' achievements. It is the disciplined approach by both the teachers as well as parents that is working well over there. Also, the students are expected to learn their alphabets and numbers; no automatic yearly promotion to the next grade. When a student fails the grade, he / she stays in that grade and sit with younger kids in the same class next year. Students are made to feel ashamed that way, and their feelings of being shamed are secondary. Because those countries are over populated with meager resources, even the kids understand the importance of good education.

      Darwin's theory of "Survival to the fittest" is very well tested in that region.

      Let these BLUE Ribbon experts absorb some of these concepts and apply at least some of them in the American Schools.

    3. Billie says:

      Yep. LIE. HYPE. Many tasteless words for derelicts. The only thing Obama creates are crisis'. Hopefully the dignified teachers may choose to be laid off, knowing the fact their worth is much more greater and their position more respected in private sector and where only the accountable are held accountable.

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    6. Tom McHale, Atlanta says:

      If auto mechanics had the same poor results as teachers today, the government response would be to hire more incompetent mechanics. Student enrollment has been basically flat for years but education employment has nearly doubled. There is absolutely no correlation between education expense per student and student achievement.

    7. Bill Carson, Santa F says:

      How many people are still stupid enough to believe the outlandish lies of the Democrats trying to buy votes from teachers and other government employees? This economy is wonderful if you're a government worker. If not, tough!!!

    8. Bill Carson, Santa F says:

      that should have said "outlandish lies" in the above comment.

    9. Pingback: FRC Blog » Social Conservative Review–June 24, 2010

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