Apparently $80 billion of stimulus funds for public education wasn’t enough. The Obama administration now says that the federal government should fork out $23 billion more in taxpayer money to save teaching jobs. If not, according to education Secretary Arne Duncan, we will see catastrophic teacher layoffs.
Before calling for a crisis and demanding more taxpayer money, it would be a good idea to look at the facts. First, from the $80 billion of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA), states received $49 billion in a portion of the act known as the State Fiscal Stabilization Fund. Of this $49 billion, states have only spent $28 billion. Why then is it necessary to pass another costly spending bill?
Furthermore, since (ARRA) passed, schools have continued to hire new staff, both teacher and non-teacher positions alike, with some schools creating entirely new jobs. Let’s take a look at some of the positions funded by the stimulus:
- Website coordinators
- Directors of planning and research
- Janitorial staff
- School support personnel
- Professional development positions
- Education coaches
- Homeless liaisons
- IT support
- Transition coordinators
- Food service staff
- Office staff
- Family center coordinators
- School psychologists
- Central administration staff
- Career specialists
- Behavior specialists
- Curriculum coordinators
- Technology coordinators
- District coordinators
- Recess aides
- Directors of student attendance
- Athletic directors
- Federal program directors
If schools can afford to fill such positions, it hardly seems the United States will be facing a crisis of teacher layoffs if states do not receive more federal aid.
Furthermore, the Obama administration claims this $23 billion bill will save between 100,000 and 300,000 teacher jobs. This means that each teacher job saved would cost the taxpayer between $76,000 and $230,000: an astronomical rate, compared to the average teacher salary of roughly $45,000.
Besides the inefficiencies connected to actual employment, the proposed $23 billion stimulus bill would also likely lead to the creation of non-essential programs, as occurred with the passage of the first stimulus bill. With state budgets tightening their belts, governments shouldn’t be throwing more money into new programs.
Relying on federal dollars is an unsustainable solution for improving state budgets and improving education, especially as our national debt continues to grow. School districts should make necessary cuts and implement changes that would lead to improved outcomes. Not only will this lessen the burden on an already indebted nation, but would instigate reform that will lead to academic improvement.