May 17 2010
Vicki E. Alger
U.S. Education Secretary Arne Duncan and President Obama want Congress to approve another $23 billion bailout for schools, which would in essence extend the federal stimulus for another year, according to the Washington Post. The purpose of the bailout is to save teaching jobs, an estimated 100,000 to 300,000 nationwide. But if recent history holds any lessons, those funds would likely go into more administration. Let's review.
Nearly 162,000 grants totaling some $175 billion have already been awarded to states through last year's bailout, resulting in a reported 640,568 jobs from grants alone. Since February 2009, the Department of Education has topped the list for most "education" jobs "created" by the previous federal bailout, with more than 398,006 jobs through September 2009, up to 423,787 jobs through December 2009, and totaling more than 468,994 jobs through March 2010. Thus close to three out of every four jobs from the last bailout is an "education" job. At $175 billion, the country's entire teaching force of 3.2 million could be paid $55,000. So why another $23 billion supposedly to "save" less than 10 percent of the teaching force? Secretary Duncan's own department holds some clues.
According to ED's annual Digest back in 1949 public school teachers outnumbered administrators by more than 2 to 1 nationwide. Today, public school systems typically employ an equal number of administrators and teachers. In spite of this growth in administration, 70 percent of teachers nationwide report, "Routine duties and paperwork interfere with my job of teaching," a statistic that has remained virtually unchanged since 1993. Now across post-bailout America, teachers are supposed to add pink slips to their piles of paperwork, too?
If elected officials were serious about saving actual teaching jobs, as opposed to "education" jobs, then they should report how much money has actually trickled down through various federal, state, district, and teacher-union bureaucracies to teachers thus far. Better yet, award bailout grants directly to parents, not bureaucrats. The $175 billion already doled out would have been enough to distribute grants worth nearly $3,600 to parents of the country's 49.3 million public-school students. And you can bet parents would be sure that those funds went to schools that put their children's teachers first.