Now that we understand what education layoffs have looked like since the recession began (see Tuesday’s post), we’ll next consider the President’s Edujobs2 plan in light of the Administration’s prior efforts to save teaching jobs.
Before we get into that, though, a quick update on Edujobs2’s status: Last night, the Senate rejected the Democrats’ effort to put the full American Jobs Act – of which Edujobs2 is part – up for a vote. However, Edujobs2 and other pieces of the proposal are not necessarily dead. Democrats have said they plan to break the jobs package into pieces and vote on each provision separately.
Given that Edujobs2 could still become law, let’s move onto Issue 2 of this series: Since we’re talking about federal action to stem the tide of layoffs, what similar steps have the federal government already taken? Since the recession started, the feds have twice sent funds to states and districts to save education jobs. In March 2009, about $100 billion from the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (better known as the “stimulus” or ARRA) was earmarked for education, $40 billion of which was intended to save or create jobs. Of the funds first allocated, just 4% remain unspent. But that number masks significant variation among states: As Ed Week noted yesterday, some states have quite a bit more ARRA funds left than do others.
Nearly a year and a half later, in August 2010, the $10 billion Education Jobs Fund (a.k.a. Edujobs, or what we’ll now call Edujobs1) sought to help districts retain and hire teachers, school administrators, and “other essential staff.” While the ARRA education funds were designed to save jobs as well as promote reform, the Edujobs1 money was only intended to fund jobs. As of summer 2011, about 45% of Edujobs1 funds had not yet been spent.
Issue 3 brings us to a much thornier question: What did ARRA and Edujobs1 accomplish? Unfortunately, there isn’t an easy answer. According to a recent Government Accountability Office report, school districts mostly used ARRA funds to save or create jobs. The remaining one-quarter of funds went towards one-time expenditures.
Estimates of jobs saved by ARRA and Edujobs1 are few and far between, and the numbers vary widely. Government calculations range from 400,000 to 1.3 million jobs saved or created by the two funds put together. A March 2010 report from the Center on Reinventing Public Education estimated that ARRA saved roughly 343,000 jobs in the 2009-10 school year.
To put these numbers into context, 1.3 million represents about 20% of the national public education workforce, while 400,000 makes up just 6% of these employees. At the state level, ARRA’s impact according to state reports was hardly uniform: The number of jobs created or saved ranges from 55% of education workers in Idaho to zero in Wyoming. (See tables below for more detail.) Edujobs1 has made a smaller dent, with the positions saved in each state representing less than 5% of the eligible education workforce in most states.
What all these numbers seem to tell us is that despite the federal government’s interventions, layoffs still happened – but it could have been worse. Beyond that, unfortunately, it’s hard to know what impact these funds really had.
Now with our consideration of these contextual issues complete, we’ll next turn to a final analysis of Edujobs2’s potential effects. Stay tuned for Part 3!
Written by Education Sector policy intern Jennie Herriot Hatfield.