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The Math Behind 135,000 Education Jobs Saved


Schools and the StimulusThe White House promised today that the economic stimulus package will create or save 600,000 jobs nationally over the next 100 days.

And 135,000 of those jobs are education jobs, the Obama administration claims. You can see a state-by-state breakdown in this White House PowerPoint presentation, on slide 5.

So how did the U.S. Department of Education come up with that 135,000-job estimate?

According to the Education Department, officials added together all of the Title I, IDEA and state fiscal stabilization fund money each state is going to get. Then, they multiplied that amount by 68.3 percent — or historically, according to the department, the percentage of state school funding that goes to school personnel. Then, they took the national-average teacher salary (plus benefits) of $69,000 to figure out how many jobs that translated into.

This seems like a very simplistic way of figuring out how many jobs the stimulus is saving or creating. But trying to answer that question also seems like an impossible task. What do you think of the math behind the numbers?


Bogus! If we use that percentage of ARRA funds just to save jobs, we won't be demonstrating Duncan's prized innovations, and he'll take his baseball and go home. In other words, schools are in a Catch-22. Use the funds to save jobs and lose funds due to a lack of innovation. How innovative is it to call back pink-slipped teachers?

How can they say they are saving jobs with the stimulus money when the stipulations say....can not be used for reoccuring expenses? Our small district is laying off 23 teachers and 15 assistants. North Carolina teachers are receiving pink slips which mean disaster for our schools as well as our own households.

The education funds in the ARRA stimulus are, I think, among the most essential components of the program. And, where states and local school districts apply these funds appropriately, no doubt they will save many tens or even hundreds of thousands of teacher's jobs.

But applying the Department of Education's fuzzy math, as you report, will only create a fake metric that, like the much-ballyhooed test scores of NCLB, won't give us a real sense of how this critical investment in education is succeeding.

Diane, I'm not aware of any bar to using ARRA funds for recurring expenses. In fact, it would be difficult to spend the amount of money granted to states and local districts without using it on recurring items like salaries. Is this a requirement your state has imposed?

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