Propping up the Teachers Unions
James Hall /
Last night, the House of Representatives passed their version of the defense supplemental bill by a vote of 215-210. The bill includes $10 billion for the “Education Jobs Fund” which Democratic leadership claims will “save” 140,000 jobs.
At that rate, each job “saved” will cost more than $70,000, which is $16,000 higher than the average teacher salary of $54,000 in 2008–2009—a cumulative difference of about $2 billion.
Data from the U.S. Census Bureau shows that the unionization rate of public school teachers in early 2009 was 57 percent. Average state union dues are approximately $300 —not including what teachers must pay to their national union affiliate—meaning teacher unions could have about $24 million in dues at stake in the “Education Jobs Fund”.
Chairman of the House Appropriations Committee Congressman Dave Obey cut $800 million from several of the Department of Education’s favorite programs, including $500 million from Race to the Top, in order to pay for the $10 billion “Education Jobs Fund”. Obey defended his decision noting:
The secretary of education is somewhat unhappy…One of the secretary’s objections, evidently, is the fact that last year in the stimulus we provided him with a $4.35 billion pot of money to use virtually any way he wanted to stimulate educational progress —$4.3 billion. He has spent a small amount of that.
On cutting $500 million, Obey stated:
…that still leaves him with $3.2 billion that he can spend any way his department wants…The secretary is somehow offended because he only has $3.2 billion to pass around…to suggest that we’re being unduly harsh is a joke.
While liberals are arguing over how to finance the “Education Jobs Fund,” conservatives are questioning the merits of another $10 billion public education bailout. According to The Heritage Foundation’s education policy analyst Lindsey Burke:
Long-term budgetary solutions are needed. Continuing to raise taxes and rely on more federal funds is an unsustainable plan for fixing state budget shortfalls and improving education. States along with the federal government have room to cut spending without jeopardizing teacher jobs or compensation. Instead of seeking another federal bailout from Washington, states should ensure that current funding is being efficiently spent on schools’ essential educational needs.
James Hall 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