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Not a Moment Too Soon


Nearly $40 billion in federal stimulus money is expected to be available to schools in the next month or so. U.S. education officials are hoping the aid will help prevent staff layoffs and further program cuts, according to The Washington Post. “This is really a chance to avert an educational catastrophe and to save a generation of kids," said U.S. Secretary Arne Duncan. Some states are already beginning to amend their education budgets for next year, in order to restore positions and erase cuts.

The money could certainly be of use in the Pontiac, Mich., school district, which recently announced a plan to lay off all of its nearly 500 teachers, effective June 30. The proposal follows a district decision to shutter almost half its schools as a result of declining enrollments and a $10 million deficit, according to The Detroit News. The laid-off teachers would be eligible to be recalled to work in the downsized district next year, based on seniority and qualifications. “We were told they needed to start with a clean slate because it’s easier to place people,” said Doris Colemen, a middle school educator who had attended a recent district information session.


Actually, I see this as a good time to review what we are doing and to decide what is working, what is not, and where we can most effectively use our funds which will be limited for the foreseeable future. During "good" times, when there is plenty of money, we tend to pile on programs that, while helpful, are not necessary.

The language in one of the quotes above is clearly geared to get us in the "panic" mode which is working so well at the federal level. Words like "catastrophe" and "save a generation of kids" are clearly hyperbolic and may not add to the discussion.

And, of course, much of this is about jobs which, as a teacher, I take seriously. But if we are going to have to review our spending and make changes to fit the currently reality, we may as well start here.

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