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October 4, 2010

1) Education Hiring Grew 2.3 Percent During Recession. On February 25, 2010, U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan testified before the House Budget Committee. He opened his remarks with this:

"It was just over a year ago that Congress and President Obama worked together to complete the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 (Recovery Act). This legislation will deliver nearly $100 billion to Recovery Act recipients, including States and school districts, to help address budget shortfalls in the midst of the most severe financial crisis and economic recession since the Great Depression. To date, the Department has awarded more than $69 billion. For the quarter ending December 31, 2009, recipients reported that assistance from the Department of Education funded approximately 400,000 jobs overall, including more than 300,000 education jobs, such as principals, teachers, librarians and counselors."

What Duncan did not say, and probably did not know at the time, was that almost half of those education jobs didn't exist a mere four months before the stimulus package was introduced in Congress. While America was "in the midst of the most severe financial crisis and economic recession since the Great Depression," the nation's school districts were hiring principals, teachers, librarians and counselors at an accelerated rate, despite flat student enrollment.

The National Bureau of Economic Research recently concluded that the recession lasted from December 2007 until June 2009, which coincides very well with the school years 2007-08 and 2008-09. According to the U.S. Department of Education's own Common Core of Data, school districts in the 50 states and the District of Columbia employed 6,063,831 full-time equivalent workers in 2007-08 and 6,201,006 in 2008-09 - an increase of 137,175, or 2.3 percent. It is ironic that this number almost exactly matches the number of jobs reportedly saved by the edujobs bill, which became law last August.

I have posted the state-by-state numbers on the EIA web site. Thirty-eight states and the District of Columbia increased their workforces during the 2008-09 school year. Of the new hires, almost 80,000 were teachers.

This lends an entirely new perspective to the battles going on in states right now over how to spend the edujobs funds. States that did not lay off education employees this year have to either use the money to support - for one more year - those new hires from Fall 2008, or use it to take on even more employees.

Whether we can sustain public education employment at ever-higher arbitrary rates remains to be seen. On the positive side, when we have one education employee for every student, we will be able to settle that class size reduction debate once and for all.

2) Poway School Staff Disaffiliates from State Union. This sort of thing is pretty rare in California, so it's worth noting the formation of the Poway School Employees Association, a local-only union recently recognized by the state as the exclusive representative of about 1,300 education support workers in the district.

The local had been affiliated with the California School Employees Association, but went public last March with its desire to become independent.

"Our chapter has gotten virtually no support from CSEA in the last 9 years," said Dianne Kodadek, who led the disaffiliation campaign. "In that time, we have had to negotiate our own contracts and represent our own members, while sending $330,000 each year to CSEA in San Jose and getting nothing in return."

PSEA won a representation election in June, which was challenged by CSEA. The split, it's fair to say, was not amicable. The local will draft a new constitution and hold officer elections later in the school year.

3) Scheduling Note. The next EIA Communiqué will appear on Tuesday, October 12.

4) Last Week's Intercepts. EIA's blog, Intercepts, covered these topics from September 28-October 4:

*  Who You Gonna Call? Ghost students in Indiana...

Haunting. ...and in Colorado.

Taxing. "It was Sanskrit to me."

Five-O Is a Lot of Blank Ballots. None of the above.

I Have an Alibi. Maybe the thieves thought that's where the money was.

5) Quote of the Week #1. "There's just not much more you can take from schools. There's no more meat on the bone. It's just amputation." - David Sanchez, president of the California Teachers Association. (September 30 Education Week)

According to the U.S. Department of Education, the number of education employees in California districts rose from 561,220 in 2007-08 to 586,110  in 2008-09.

Quote of the Week #2. "Organizers of Saturday's 'One Nation Working Together' rally at the Lincoln Memorial are proud of their diversity. Before the event, they predicted it would be the 'most diverse march in history.' It turned out they were right. Looking around the rally, there were Teamsters Local 311, Service Employees International Union Local 1199, Communications Workers of America Local 2336, American Federation of Teachers Local 1, United Auto Workers Amalgamated Local 171, Transport Workers Union Local 100, and representatives of many, many other unions. That's a lot of diversity." - Byron York of the Washington Examiner. (October 3 Washington Examiner)

   

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