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Karin Dryhurst

Myths About Myths

This recent rant from Charles Lane sounds like it could have come from the press office of Minority Leader John Boehner:

Don’t believe the hype.

Start with that scary number of 300,000 teacher layoffs, which has been bandied about in numerous newspaper articles. The sources for it are interested parties: teachers unions and school administrators, whose national organizations counted layoff warning notices that have already been sent out this spring and extrapolated from there. Notably, however, even these sources usually describe the threatened positions as “education jobs” – not teachers. That’s because the figures actually include not only kindergarten through 12th grade classroom instructors, but also support staff (bus drivers, custodians, et al.) and even community college faculty.

Hype! Scary! Unions! Scare quotes!

Lane has it all covered. I’m not sure what he’s getting at by pointing out that education jobs can include support staff and community college faculty. Are we only supposed to support classroom teachers because we all have a fond memory of our third grade teachers? Bus drivers get kids—especially kids whose parents work—to school on time. Custodians keep schools litter and vermin-free. And community college faculty provide important training—especially for workers who need updated education in this tough economy.

Lane then contradicts himself by saying the $23 million in education funding would go directly to teacher salaries:

Given these facts, it’s unclear how the bill’s supporters came up with its $23 billion price tag. It works out to about $77,000 per job saved in the 300,000-layoff scenario, but $230,000 per job if only 100,000 jobs are at risk.

Nice throwback to the 2009 stimulus debate. Take the price of the bill; divide it by estimated jobs numbers and poof you get an arbitrary number to criticize.

Truth is school boards are facing serious cuts in staff and in the programs educators administer. Fairfax County plans to cut 200 positions and to institute fees for sports and Advanced Placement tests, guaranteeing that success in school—which has been linked to sports participation—and in higher education—an advantage of AP classes—will be for those who can afford it.

In the end though, Lane goes with blaming the teachers unions:

The real point is that both the costs of the bill in increased federal borrowing and its benefits in purported economic stimulus are probably outweighed by the social costs of squandering an opportunity to wring concessions and reforms from the special interest groups that dominate public education, to the detriment of parents and children everywhere.

But, given the power of the teacher unions within the Democratic Party, something tells me that this bill isn’t really about stimulating the economy or educating our kids.

But, given Lane’s faulty math and demonization of unions, something tells me this article isn’t really about parents and children everywhere.

Karin Dryhurst: Author Bio | Other Posts
Posted at 3:21 PM, Jun 16, 2010 in Education
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