Education secretary sees many teacher layoffs

WASHINGTON Sun Feb 21, 2010 5:30pm EST

President-elect Barack Obama (R) listens to Chicago Public Schools Chief Arne Duncan during a news conference at the Dodge Renaissance Academy in Chicago in this December 16, 2008 file photo. REUTERS/Jeff Haynes

President-elect Barack Obama (R) listens to Chicago Public Schools Chief Arne Duncan during a news conference at the Dodge Renaissance Academy in Chicago in this December 16, 2008 file photo.

Credit: Reuters/Jeff Haynes

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WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Many teachers and educators across the United States are at risk of losing their jobs in the next few months, the country's education secretary told a meeting of the National Governors Association on Sunday.

"I am very, very concerned about layoffs going into the next school year starting in September. Good superintendents are going to start sending out pink slips in March and April, like a month from now, as they start to plan for their budgets," said Arne Duncan, referring to the slips of paper included in some paychecks to notify a person of being fired.

As tax revenues in most states continue to plummet because of weak economies, states and cities are considering cutting education to keep their budgets balanced. Every state in the union except one, Vermont, is required to balance its budget.

The economic stimulus package pushed last year by the administration of President Barack Obama and approved by Congress saved at least 320,000 education jobs, Duncan told the governors.

The plan included the largest transfer of money from the U.S. government to states in the nation's history, according to the Pew Center on the States.

It created a stabilization fund of $48 billion that provided cash directly to states, mostly for schools. But those funds will likely run out before the end of the year.

Last week, Obama warned of the possibility of layoffs in state governments when the stimulus ends.

Duncan said the $1.5 billion "Race to the Top" grants included in the stimulus plan are on track to be distributed soon, with the finalists for the grants announced next week.

Obama has proposed extending the program, as well as expanding it by $3 billion, to fund new education innovations, especially at semi-autonomous charter schools.

The administration will also send out school improvement grants to states next month totaling $3.5 billion, Duncan said.

Employment is one of the most pressing issues in the United States, where the unemployment rate stands at 9.7 percent. The secretary, formerly the chief executive officer of Chicago Public Schools, said there was some hope for educators in jobs legislation passed by the House of Representatives and is pending in the Senate.

Duncan also said a bill known as the Student Aid and Fiscal Responsibility Act passed by the House would boost funding for colleges and universities.

In January, there were 8.03 million workers in local government education, down from 8.09 million a year before and 8.05 million in January 2008, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

(Editing by Philip Barbara)

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Comments (7)
Swarm wrote:
K-12 education is going to get hammered.

Unfortunately, the teachers’ unions will block progress as they refuse to accept the reality of the situation.

As usual.

Feb 21, 2010 5:45pm EST  --  Report as abuse
Anna123 wrote:
If the boomers have to pick up the tab for everyone’s health care and are expected to “sacrifice?”-It is time for people to pick up the tab and pay to educate their own spawn.
I did not have them and am sick of seeing my taxes skyrocket to support teachers and other beurocrats who recieve huge pensions for sitting on their duffs.

Feb 21, 2010 5:55pm EST  --  Report as abuse
I think it’s saddening how we are allowing those who created the deficits to get off without sacrifice, but we are all expected to take damage and then throw up our hands and say, “Oh well, it’s bad economic times, I guess we just aren’t going to educate our kids!”

Many districts have already lost teacher jobs, and it didn’t stop the higher administrators from adding more non-teaching positions and expensive non-functioning software systems and patronage contracts. These things don’t help students learn. Great teachers do. We need more teachers–not less.

Feb 21, 2010 7:24pm EST  --  Report as abuse
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