Stop the Bailouts
Teachers’ Unions Ask and Democrats Deliver: Latest Taxpayer-Funded Bailout Spends $10 Billion to Preserve Education Status Quo
WASHINGTON, D.C. | August 9, 2010
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi has summoned House Members back to Washington for a rare August session. What pressing national priority justifies pulling Members back from their districts and constituents? It’s simple. Democrats want another bailout.
Doubling Down on Failed Stimulus
Democrats already inflated spending on state school systems by nearly $100 billion with their unpopular and ineffective “stimulus” enacted in early 2009. Although they pledged it was a one-time investment that would “save or create jobs,” less than two years later Democrats and teachers’ unions are once again demanding a taxpayer bailout to keep schools funded far above the levels states can afford.
- Stimulus funds are still unspent. States and the federal government are sitting on more than $30 billion in unspent “education stimulus” provided last year. At the same time, states and districts from coast to coast are announcing plans to “rehire” teachers and other personnel laid off earlier this year – even without the help of another bailout. Is this really an emergency?
- A bailout only prolongs state funding imbalances. Giving states another $10 billion to temporarily boost school spending does nothing to avert future layoffs and other belt-tightening needed to bring state budgets back into balance. In fact, spending more today could actually worsen the education “funding cliff” by allowing states to add new teachers and district spending they cannot afford in the long term. This makes states more dependent on the federal government and more susceptible to federal power grabs and control over our schools in the future.
- The bailout assumes all states are the same (except one). The Democrats’ state bailout presumes every state faces the same fiscal challenges – using a population-based funding formula for across-the-board state budget inflation. Clearly, this is not a response to specific funding shortages or jobs at risk. The only exception is Texas. Because that state has prioritized education funding in recent years, it will be forced to meet a much higher standard to receive federal dollars, which no state can refuse. The federal government is penalizing a state that has invested in education during tough economic times while rewarding states living beyond their means.
Failing to Protect Good Teachers or Improve Education
If money alone could improve the quality of our schools, America would long ago have overcome our education challenges, erased achievement gaps, and guaranteed opportunities for every student. The reality is, simply funding the status quo will not improve education for our children. Yet that is exactly what this $10 billion would do.
- The bailout does nothing to save the best teachers’ jobs. Most school districts use “last hired, first fired” policies. That means the teachers who have been on the job longest will keep their jobs, regardless of whether they are effective in the classroom. Evidence of these policies was seen earlier this year when award-winning teachers were among those to receive pink slips in Indiana.
- The bailout is not just for teachers. Taxpayers are forking over another $10 billion not just for teachers in classrooms with students, but for virtually any and all school personnel – including clerical workers, administrators, janitors, and many others. Education support staff are important, but Democrats are being dishonest when they say these dollars are simply saving teachers’ jobs.
- More school staff has not improved student achievement. According to research from the Heritage Foundation, since 1970, student enrollment in public elementary and secondary schools has increased just 7 percent, while public elementary and secondary staff hires have increased 83 percent. Yet student test scores have remained relatively static, and the Obama administration has said “the status quo clearly isn't good enough.”
- No one knows how many teachers’ jobs are truly at stake. Democrats and teachers’ unions cannot even quantify the problem they claim they are trying to solve. Earlier this year, they demanded $23 billion to save 250,000 jobs. That is a per-job cost of $92,000. Then, Democrats pared their request to $10 billion, claiming it would save 140,000 teachers’ jobs. Other estimates claim the $10 billion would save 160,000 teachers’ jobs – a cost of $62,500 per job, thousands more than the national average.
The $10 billion teachers’ union bailout – won’t create permanent jobs, won’t improve education, won’t balance state budgets.
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