Congressional Action Could Mitigate Further Teacher Job Losses

California’s unemployment rate more than doubled between March 2008 (6.1 percent) and March 2010 (12.6 percent). The dramatic increase in the number of jobless no doubt includes some of the 16,000 teachers who lost their jobs in May 2009 and the 4,500 teachers who were terminated in May 2008, according to Legislative Analyst’s Office (LAO) estimates presented at an Assembly Budget subcommittee hearing. Schools are continuing to issue pink slips to teachers. More than 25,000 teachers recently received layoff notices for the 2010-11 school year, according to the LAO.

Concrete help could come from a supplemental appropriations bill that is rapidly moving through Congress. An amendment to the bill proposed by Senator Harkin would provide $23 billion in federal aid to states targeted to avoid future education job losses. Those job losses could number up to 300,000 due to state budget cuts, according to recent testimony by the US Secretary of Education.

When teachers lose their jobs, they have less to spend in their local communities – magnifying the impact of budget cuts on local economies. Additional federal funds would provide critically needed support to keep teachers in classrooms and dollars flowing to local communities. That’s why this is one piece of news worth cheering, and contacting your local congressperson, about.

— Jonathan Kaplan

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