Hard Times

A new report finds that there may be more pain on the budgetary front for education institutions this coming school year, even as the nation's overall economy continues to claw its way back from “The Great Recession.”

With state and local economies still struggling, and ARRA (American Recovery and Reinvestment Act) funds ending, education institutions are finding themselves in the position of possibly having to eliminate an unprecedented number of teaching jobs, according to “Projection of National Education Job Cuts for the 2010-11 School Year.” The study, conducted by the American Association of School Administrators (AASA), estimates the total number of jobs that will be lost is almost as many as had been saved by ARRA funds in 2009.

Based on almost 1,500 responses from school administrators in 49 states, 82 percent of districts will eliminate 27,516 education jobs for the 2010-11 school year and 53 percent will freeze hiring. According to AASA, this translates into total national job cuts for education of 275,000, representing 92 percent of the 300,000 education jobs preserved by ARRA.

This is disturbing news.

Enrollment at the nation's elementary and secondary schools is projected to top 55.8 million in 2010, an all-time high and a number that will continue to grow through at least 2018. The students are coming, and reducing the ranks of education staff could have tragic consequences for this generation of students — and America's future.

Add the price tag of ever-increasing demands placed on education institutions; the financial effects of growing regulations; rising energy and operating costs; and a physical infrastructure in desperate need of upgrade, repair and continual maintenance; and you have a system in dire need of additional resources and funding.

In recognition of the looming budget crisis, Congress is considering additional funding for education. The “Keep Our Educators Working Act of 2010” is a bill introduced last month by both congressional education committee chairmen, Sen. Tom Harkins (D-Iowa) and Rep. George Miller (D-Calif.), that would appropriate $23 billion to save education jobs.

Hopefully, the eye-opening results illustrated in reports such as AASA's will prompt lawmakers to provide the resources to ensure a strong and competitive American education system.

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