Wednesday, March 04, 2009

Obama Stimulus Money to Retain Union Teacher Jobs

Who would have ever guessed? Millions in stimulus money to go to elementary and secondary schools (public) jobs which potentially some 600,000 jobs might have been eliminated by state budget cuts.

Well now, Pennsylvania school districts better hurry up and begin the on-paper budget slashing and on-paper implement Rendell's so-called consolidation plans (slashing 501 school districts down to 100). Now we know it makes perfect sense why Union-supporter Gov. Ed Rendell proposed this consolidation plan when he did, so on paper it would look like all of these jobs were going to be cut, thousands, but hold on to your school hat, teachers, we're getting manna from Obama and we won't have to consolidate anyway!

At least not down to 100. Maybe a handful of districts will consolidate so area legislators promoting such can gain a boost in the polls but watch carefull, not one district will lose any school employees, not one.

Net the Truth Online

A main goal of education spending in the stimulus bill is to help keep teachers on the job.

Nearly 600,000 jobs in elementary and secondary schools could be eliminated by state budget cuts over the next three years, according to a study released this past week by the University of Washington. Fewer teachers means higher class sizes, something that districts are scrambling to prevent.

The stimulus sets up a $54 billion fund to help prevent or restore state budget cuts, of which $39 billion must go toward kindergarten through 12th grade and higher education. In addition, about $8 billion of the fund could be used for other priorities, including modernization and renovation of schools and colleges, though how much is unclear, because Congress decided not to specify a dollar figure.

The Education Department will distribute the money as quickly as it can over the next couple of years.

And it adds $25 billion extra to No Child Left Behind and special education programs, which help pay teacher salaries, among other things.

This money may go out much more slowly; states have five years to spend the dollars, and they have a history of spending them slowly. In fact, states don't spend all the money; they return nearly $100 million to the federal treasury every year.

The stimulus bill also includes more than $4 billion for the Head Start and Early Head Start early education programs and for child care programs.

The proposed emergency expenditures on nearly every realm of education, including school renovation, special education, Head Start and grants to needy college students, would amount to the largest increase in federal aid since Washington began to spend significantly on education after World War II.

Critics and supporters alike said that by its sheer scope, the measure could profoundly change the federal government’s role in education, which has traditionally been the responsibility of state and local government.

Responding in part to a plea from Democratic governors earlier this month, Congress allocated $79 billion to help states facing large fiscal shortfalls maintain government services, and especially to avoid cuts to education programs, from pre-kindergarten through higher education.

Obama administration officials, teachers unions and associations representing school boards, colleges and other institutions in American education said the aid would bring crucial financial relief to the nation’s 15,000 school districts and to thousands of campuses otherwise threatened with severe cutbacks.

“This is going to avert literally hundreds of thousands of teacher layoffs,” Education Secretary Arne Duncan said Tuesday.

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