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  • Forget Your Vacation, Come Bail Out Public Education

    Speaker Nancy Pelosi

    The taxpayer-funded, $10 billion public-education bailout moved one step closer to reality today when the Senate voted 61–38 on a cloture measure, clearing the path for bill consideration toward the end of the week. Since the House has already left for recess, Speaker Nancy Pelosi will have to call members back for a vote, which she has promised to do.

    Do teachers need lawmakers to leave the beaches and head back to Washington? Not if we’re to believe reports from school districts about their summer hiring. Mike Antonucci of the Education Intelligence Agency reports that schools have begun rehiring teachers despite the pink slips doled out earlier this year (and despite cries from the teachers’ unions and the Obama administration of catastrophic teacher layoffs if the bailout fails). According to Antonucci:

    • In Indiana, 148 of the 284 teachers laid off by the Fort Wayne Community School District have been rehired.
    • The Hesperia Unified School District in California decided to rescind the pink slips of 77 teachers that had been laid off earlier this year.
    • The Charlotte-Mecklenburg School District in North Carolina conceded that the state’s budget woes were overblown, and has decided to hire back 141 teachers that were previously laid off. The district also noted that 120 more teachers could also be rehired after budget talks conclude.
    • In Ohio, a budget deal reached with the Cleveland Teachers Union will likely mean that a majority of the 545 teachers laid off in the spring will get their jobs back.
    • The Broward County School District in Florida will be rehiring 465 teachers who were laid off earlier this year.

    These pink-slip rescissions likely represent a larger trend nationwide. It’s common practice for school districts to overestimate the number of teachers that will be laid off in advance of budgets being set, and in advance of the school year. What is less common is the federal government stepping in to bail out state budgets to “save” public-education jobs.

    But when the largest political contributor to Congress asks members to jump, they catapult their way into more deficit spending. The two national teachers’ unions — the National Education Association (NEA) and the American Federation of Teachers (AFT) — contributed more than $70 million to campaigns during the 2007–2008 season, with 95 percent of contributions going to Democrats and left-leaning causes.

    Teachers’ unions, members of Congress, and the Obama administration claim that the $10 billion public-education bailout would save 100,000 teaching jobs. That means taxpayers will be paying $100,000 per job — nearly double the national average for teacher salary, $54,000. Moreover, the U.S. Census Bureau estimates that about 57 percent of teachers are unionized. Using a conservative estimate of $300 in annual dues paid, the NEA and AFT have a minimum of $24 million in dues at stake.

    To recap: School districts are rehiring teachers without a federal bailout, but the administration and certain members of Congress claim catastrophic layoffs will occur if Washington doesn’t do something. Teachers’ unions are huge contributors to campaigns, and likely have about $24 million in dues at stake in the debate.

    To give this effort a little perspective, the $10 billion bailout comes on the heels of the $100 billion in “stimulus” money that was appropriated to the Department of Education last year. That effectively doubled the agency’s budget from 2008 to 2009, and President Obama hopes to increase it by another 10 percent in 2011.

    Congress and the Obama administration have lobbied nonstop for increases in education spending since they came into office, and this $10 billion bailout is their latest attempt. Yet the tiny $13 million D.C. Opportunity Scholarship Program, which is successfully providing vouchers to low-income children in the nation’s capital, is being phased out.

    Anyone who doubts the power of organized labor in education should just follow the money trail.

    — Lindsey Burke is a policy analyst in domestic-policy studies at the Heritage Foundation.

    Cross-posted from National Review Online

    Posted in Education [slideshow_deploy]

    9 Responses to Forget Your Vacation, Come Bail Out Public Education

    1. West Texan says:

      I hope Nancy's education bailout produces movers and shakers because they'll be the ones eventually stuck with the federal's enormous overcharge. This rural resident would sure like to see Nancy's personal shopping expenses. I'm sure it's one whopping figure. Who the heck is this woman to burden taxpayers and states with her intrusive overspending? November seems so very far away.

    2. Ben C. Ann Arbor, MI says:

      Wait until the Federal Government controls all of educations: K – PhD. "Brave New World" will be the reality and "Atlas (will have) Shrugged".

    3. Pingback: Ed is Watching » Edujobs Bailout Clears Hurdle in Congress: My Debt Grows to Protect Union Dues

    4. Pingback: Congress Called Back to Bail Out Teachers Unions While Starving Children By Cutting Food Stamps :: The Lonely Conservative

    5. Drew Page, IL says:

      When it comes to kowtowing to unions, you know what Obama, Pelosi and Reid are going to do. They are going to give the unions anything they want and the rest of us are going to pay the bill.

    6. Laurie Dedmon, Sange says:

      Dear Lindsey Burke,

      You are obviously totally unaware of what is going on in the classroom. The fund for salaries is not just for those teachers who are laided off. There are tens of thousands of kids who are getting up to 7 days off of the school year ( furough) to reduce the salaries and costs of conducting school. I don't think you would like your son or daughter to get a high school education with 7 less school days a year. For families that's another 7 days they need to pay for day care, and 7 less days to get their child to pass exit exams for a diploma. At our district we (the union) voted and decided to get less pay to keep our classified staff from being laid off. That's right. We elected to get paid less, so some families would not go without an income at all.

      This is not to mention that we only have $200 a year to pay for all office and paper supplies. This means that teachers pay for the paper that your child uses in the classroom at times. I have worked in several districts in California for 20 years, and at this time we are at the all time low for funding.

      Get your sources right before you accuse teacher unions of being greedy.

    7. Steve S. says:

      Lindsay, I am on your side in this. However, I cannot understand how you calculated the figure of $24 million in dues at stake here. Please enlighten me.

      The loss of D.C.'s program is so telling, thanks for pointing that out.

    8. Bobbie says:

      No bailout! The tax payers, responsible to themselves and the money they earn, need to control their own money. Putting it in the hands of unexpected irresponsibility should not constitute bail out. The government is without control and without limit, so they take advantage of the tax payers making them pay for the governments derelictions. Accountability is passed due. The government is the only sector that should sacrifice from the incompetence and poor decisions of government leadership themselves.

      My boss effects me. Government boss, effects financially and authoritatively, people not employed nor benefiting from tax paid government programs. How is that fair?

      If teachers are truly willing to teach, they would do what is necessary to continue or move to the private sector where children are more grateful.

      If 50% of the government sector went to the private sector, it would build freedom to the people, country and the economy. It would build strength all around.

    9. Robert N Ivy; Dawson says:

      Not too many years ago it was against public policy and governmental policy to unionize government employees. I think this would be a good starting point for educational reform today. No teacher could belong to a national or local union if employed by the local or federal government. Too much is required by unions which have the upper hand now. Just like management had the upper hand in the early days of the union.

      These are public employees who have the shaping of pliable minds in their hands. Dedication to doing a good job should be uppermost in their minds.

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